Worcester scores top marks on LGBT score for fifth year

Worcester scores top marks on LGBT score for fifth year
Just how LGBTQ-welcoming are we? 13 N.J. towns got score cards
For many members of the LGBTQ community, the journey to living authentically is beset by emotional challenges ― which is why National Coming Out Day (Oct. 11) remains as significant as ever.

Sometimes abbreviated as NCOD, National Coming Out Day was established in 1988 by activists Robert Eichberg and Jean OLeary to celebrate queer visibility. It also recognizes the social and political strides made by the LGBTQ community. In the 30 years since then, the day has been recognized globally in places like the United Kingdom, Switzerland and other countries.

Ellen DeGeneres marked the occasion Thursday on Twitter and Instagram, sharing a sweet photo with her wife, Portia De Rossi. 

Today is National Coming Out Day. If you are struggling to come out, find at least one person to lean on who can be the support that you need. And when you do, you will be okay. I promise. You should never be afraid to be yourself. #NationalComingOutDay #WillandGrace pic.twitter.com/Qj41XNrAH5

… and Olympic freeskier Gus Kenworthy, who shared a photo of himself sharing a smooch with longtime boyfriend Matthew Wilkas. 

Officials at the Human Rights Campaign, which has been formally organizing National Coming Out Day efforts since 1990, said the annual celebrations themes have taken on deeper meaning given Americas current political climate.

While President Donald Trump was initially praised for having more accepting views on LGBTQ issues than other Republicans on the campaign trail, his time in office has been anything but queer-friendly thus far.

The Trump administration has rolled back federal protections for transgender students, aimed to ban trans recruits from the U.S. military and, most recently, announced it will no longer give visas to same-sex partners of diplomats. 

An HRC report published in June found that 46 percent of U.S. workers who identify as LGBTQ say they remain closeted at work.

Coming out can be one of the most courageous acts an LGBTQ person makes, and that courage is inextricably tied to our continued progress toward full equality, HRC president Chad Griffin said in a press release.

Visibility matters, and research shows that when people know someone who is LGBTQ, they are far more likely to support full equality under the law. Coming out and sharing our stories is essential to advancing LGBTQ equality and fighting back against attempts to turn back the clock on our progress.

See how other LGBTQ stars, personalities and allies honored National Coming Out Day on social media below.  

Happy #NationalComingOutDay! Were OBSESSED with how @KaramoBrown thinks of letting people in to his life and living authentically. 🌈✨💘 (via @nowthisnews)pic.twitter.com/sb514UDtGa

Im proud to support the LGBT community on #NationalComingOutDay Ive seen monumental changes in attitudes and laws in my days as an advocate and ally, and I look forward to continuing our fight to create a more accepting and inviting community for all members of the LGBT family.

The world may want to change you, but no one can erase who you are. This #NationalComingOutDay, we celebrate the #LGBTQ community and living truthfully and openly. #BoyErased ❤️💛💚💙💜 pic.twitter.com/aS5aJnXcNL

Happy #NationalComingOutDay 🌈 Remember coming out isnt necessarily only pertained to sexual orientation but anything you want it to be! Lets celebrate each other and tell someone you love them today ❤️ pic.twitter.com/qtlOae6Fbr

coming out is great, but do it on YOUR terms. #NationalComingOutDay is meant to encourage discussion & set a tone of acceptance, not put pressure on those not ready. <3

#NationalComingOutDay The path of accepting your truth and then loving and living it is all your own, in your own time, at your own pace. Be gentle throughout your journey; you are worth the effort and the self-care.❤️ pic.twitter.com/oijAXmRAiM

In accordance with one of my favorite old mantras, be yourself – everyone else is taken. #NationalComingOutDay pic.twitter.com/U5Cqy64EfR

Sharing again on #NationalComingOutDay.I know not everyone is this lucky coming out. My mom is my hero. At a time that was impossible to navigate,she saved me.She says she always knew & says her 1st thought upon giving birth was yes!I got a gay one!💁🏼‍♂️I love u mama. ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜 pic.twitter.com/eutQRvyprh

We see you. We hear you. We love you. Wishing the very best to everyone coming out today and everyone still looking for the right moment. #NationalComingOutDay pic.twitter.com/VYkkkDCBiB

"Coming Out" is about community, support, forgiveness, gratitude, and love.Thank you, internet, for helping me accept myself when others couldn't. #NationalComingOutDay

its #NationalComingOutDay. this photo of me with my grandparents was 5 years ago, the DAY before I came out to my mom and eventually the world.My life has INFINITELY improved because I decided to merge my double lives, and get on a path of healing. I am a proud gay man. pic.twitter.com/y9tSn8o69G

Straight friends, neighbors, and allies: Many of you may know that today is very special for those of us in the LGBTQ communitY. Today is National Coming Out Day and for some its a day of celebration, others a day of reflection, and for most all of us, a day of solidarity. pic.twitter.com/jkLQRa8zv8

On National Coming Out Day, we celebrate the bravery of all who have come out as LGBTQ, and those who are taking that courageous step today. Im proud to fight alongside you all, today and always, to be a country where everyone can safely love who they love and be who they are.

A new survey looks at more than 500 U.S, cities a including 13 in New Jersey a to score them on how LGBTQ-friendly they are. (Pixabay)

Results of a new survey show many of New Jersey’s cities have made great strides in making their communities more inclusive.

Rankings have been released by the Washington, D.C.-based Human Rights Campaign which looked at more than 500 cities in all 50 states and how friendly they are to LGBTQ — lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer —residents, employees and visitors.

Each year, the HRC’s Municipal Equality Index examines how inclusive municipal laws, policies and services are of LGBTQ community.

“This year’s Municipal Equality Index shows in vivid detail that municipalities are making their communities more welcoming to all by protecting LGBTQ residents and visitors,” said Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. “Even in places where the path to equality can face many barriers, local leaders are making meaningful gains in the fight for fairness.”

Out of 13 cities ranked in New Jersey, three earned a score of 100. The cities are rated based on non-discrimination laws, the municipality as an employer, municipal services, law enforcement and the city leaderships public position on equality, according to the HRC.

How cities are chosen to be ranked is based on population and a number of other factors, according to the HRC report.

Cities not selected to be ranked, but whose leaders thought they had made strides to improve the lives of the LGBTQ community, could self-submit information to be considered to be included in the survey. Those that met the rules for self-submission were: Miami Beach and West Palm Beach, Florida; Laguna Beach, California and Woodbury.

Here’s how New Jersey’s 13 cities examined ranked. Click on the name of each city to go to the full HRC report:

Of the 13 New Jersey cities scored by the Human Rights Campaign, New Brunswick received the lowest score when it came to being LGBTQ-friendly. (Pixabay)

According to the HRC, the city does have non-discrimination laws when it comes to municipal employment. The police department has no LGBTQ police liaison or task force, but the survey did find the city was compliant in reporting hate crimes to the FBI.

Supporters of marriage equality in New Jersey are seen in this file photo during a Garden State Equality rally in Montclair in October 2013. (File Photo)

Montclair has local laws in effect banning discrimination in city hiring and the city does have a Human Rights Commission.

The city doesn’t have a LGBTQ police liaison or task force and earned no points for leadership on advocating for LGBTQ equality.

Elizabeth has non-discrimination laws governing municipal employment and contractor use, according to a new survey by the Washington, D.C.-based Human Rights Campaign. (File Photo)

The city has non-discrimination laws governing municipal employment and contractor use and has a city Human Rights Commission.

The city scored a zero for its leadership on advocating for LGBTQ equality and, the survey says, has no LGBTQ police liaison or task force and police had not reported 2016 hate crimes to the FBI.

People enjoy the boardwalk in Ocean Grove. The city is one of 13 in New Jersey scored on how welcoming they are to the LGBTQ community. (File Photo)

An unincorporated municipality in Neptune Township, Ocean Grove’s scores appeared based on county and state laws governing how the LGBTQ community is welcomed. Its ranking included points for protecting youth from conversion therapy (state law) and non-discrimination in city employment (under county law).

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