Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

OKC-Based Cimarron Alliance Foundation Launches LGBT Public Awareness Campaign

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

OKC-Based Cimarron Alliance Foundation Launches LGBT Public Awareness Campaign

Article excerpt

The Cimarron Alliance Foundation is launching a public awareness campaign aimed at showing Oklahoma's LGBT community as just that - everyday Oklahomans who are part of the fabric of the state.

Scott Hamilton, executive director of Cimarron Alliance, said the "And I Am a Gay Oklahoman" campaign will begin with a series of short videos featuring people of various backgrounds and professions telling a bit about their lives. The videos first will be posted to social networking sites and websites, then the campaign will roll out into billboards and print advertisements. A fundraising effort is under way to buy TV spots, he said.

The goal of the campaign is twofold, Hamilton said.

"The first is to demonstrate, using ordinary Oklahomans, how we are very much a part of the fabric of life in Oklahoma," he said. "We are attorneys, doctors, people who deliver your mail, collect your garbage, care for your children, mow your lawns and paint paintings. We are older and younger, we are every race, every religion, every ethnicity, every nation of origin, and the one thing that binds us all together goes beyond our sexual orientation. It is the fact that we are all Oklahomans."

The second purpose of the campaign is equally important, Hamilton said, and in some cases more important. He wants the faces and voices of gay Oklahomans to reach other gay Oklahomans in small Oklahoma towns who are less likely to have support and more likely to feel there is no one else like them.

"They may identify with someone in the videos, and find hope that they're a part of something bigger and that they really are OK," he said.

Cimarron Alliance's efforts join a national trend of support, via videos and social networking, for the LGBT community. After several gay youth suicides and cases of bullying and discrimination, people voiced their concern through different outlets, including the "It Gets Better" campaign.

Hamilton said Cimarron's effort may draw comparisons to the "I Am a Mormon" campaign in its format, but he believes the approach of showing faces of everyday Oklahomans is right for this state. …

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