From a small house party in the Heights to a series of fundraisers that collectively draw more than 1,000 people annually, OutReach United has dramatically expanded its reach over the last 11 years to become one of the city’s most visible LGBT organizations.
The group's flagship event, the Houston Coming Out Party, celebrates an important milestone for most LGBT individuals and raises money for local nonprofits. This year’s event, set for October 14, will feature nationally recognized performer Lady Bunny.
OutReach United board chair and founder Gary Wood says to date the organization has raised and given away in excess of $350,000 to organizations such as Montrose Center’s SPRY program, Out for Education, PFLAG/HATCH and others. With a slew of volunteers and helpful sponsors and underwriters, OutReach has been able to keep its expenses under 10%, leaving more money for recipient charities.
Wood says when he and his partner Bryant first decided they wanted to host a fundraiser, they were determined to focus on a day they felt was too often overlooked. “We always wondered why National Coming Out Day wasn’t really celebrated around the country,” he says of the awareness day that falls annually on October 11. “Coming out can be a fraught process, and we know that too many LGBT youth end up on the street when they come out. We wanted to create an event that would celebrate who we are as a community, that made this a positive experience.”
The Saturday evening party includes an open bar, DJ, silent auction and live performances. This year, the event moves to the Buffalo Soldiers Museum in Midtown, an institution that celebrates the history of African American soldiers. Wood says not only does the space provide a wonderful backdrop to the Coming Out Party, it’s also representative of the diversity within the LGBT community.
And what about bringing Lady Bunny to Houston? “We asked a lot of people who they wanted to see, and Lady Bunny really is the full package. She’s absolutely hilarious and perfect for our audience,” Wood says.
This year’s event will feature a Sunday brunch with Lady Bunny as well as the main event on Saturday. Tickets are available for each event as well as an option for both. Wood says he expects the two events to collectively entertain roughly 500 people.
Sponsors of this year’s event include Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Concierge Travel, Outsmart magazine and Jaguar Houston Central.
Houston Coming Out Party
Saturday October 14, 7-10 pm
Buffalo Soldiers National Museum
3816 Caroline St.