The more than 30 doors erected in Market Square, Downtown, today were each decorated to send the same message: "Come out for equality."
That's because today is National Coming Out Day, an event started in 1988 to celebrate men and women who publicly identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
It's an event that is observed around the world, with many people choosing Oct. 11 as the day to "come out" to their families, their friends or their coworkers, said Christine Bryan, director of marketing and development for the Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh.
This year, the Delta Foundation, which organizes the annual Pittsburgh Pride events, decided to celebrate National Coming Out Day for the first time in a public and visible way, Ms. Bryan said. They invited organizations ranging from Alcoa to the Andy Warhol Museum to Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's office to decorate doors that show support of Pittsburgh's LGBT community. The doors themselves are a nod to the idea that a person "comes out of the closet" by announcing he is gay.
"I think the message is: obviously the LGBT community is very strong here in Pittsburgh, and want to be included and want to be treated as an equal member of society," Ms. Bryan said.
That message was made by the doors and emphasized in signs posted around Market Square noting that Pennsylvania is the only northeastern state without legalized same-sex marriage or civil unions, and that no statewide protection exists against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
More employers -- and Ms. Bryan pointed to Highmark and Deloitte as examples -- are taking steps to offer a welcoming environment for their employees as a way to create a better workplace.
"I think that once employees specifically realize that they don't have to hide who they are, or watch what pronouns they use when they talk about their partners, they can then be better employees," she said.
As the lunch hour began today, people walked through Market Square, looking at the decorated doors. One, created by an LGBT group with the Veterans Affairs Pittsburgh Healthcare System, was painted in regular camouflage on one side and in rainbow camouflage on the other. People posted messages of support on paper dogtags that they affixed to the door.
Another, decorated by two makeup artists from The ScareHouse in Etna, offered up a spooky take on the rainbow theme, which has long been a symbol of support for the LGBT community.
Visiting Market Square on her lunch break, Tricia Forsythe, 33, of East Pittsburgh, said she thought the doors sent a message of "very positive support."
"I'm always a big supporter of the gay community," she said. "I think love is love. They need to be let alone."
The doors will remain in the square until 8 tonight.
Kaitlynn Riely: firstname.lastname@example.org - neigh_city
This story originally appeared in The Pittsburgh Press. To log in or subscribe, go to: http://press.post-gazette.com/ First Published October 11, 2013 12:22 PM