A Voice For the GLBT Community:

Speak Out! Toastmasters Club Celebrates 10th Anniversary

Long Beach, Calif., May 27, 2013: Southern California’s first gay-identified Toastmasters Club, Speak Out!, will kick-off its 10th anniversary on Saturday, June 15 at 7pm at The Long Beach Gay and Lesbian Center with a special anniversary meeting and club reunion.

Charted by Toastmasters International on June 12, 2003, Speak Out! Toastmasters of Long Beach holds the distinction of being the first openly gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, and transgendered specialty Toastmasters Club in Southern California. Founders Dana Runge and Heidee Sinowitz envisioned creating a Toastmasters Club with an open and supportive environment for others, including all genders and sexual orientations, to empower them to overcome the fear of public speaking and to develop leadership skills.

“If someone of the GLBT community goes to a Toastmasters club where everyone is straight, there is sometimes doubt in that person’s mind whether or not they will be accepted into the club, even though most clubs are very accepting,” Runge said. “We wanted to ensure that we created an environment where everyone knows they will be accepted, no matter what gender or sexual orientation.”

“When joining a club like Speak Out!, a GLBT person will only have to deal with one fear at a time, the fear of public speaking and not the fear of acceptance,” Runge said.

Runge, a transgendered female, was initially inspired to create such a club following her experience with discrimination from the health care system. She realized the need for the community and for herself to gain training in public speaking and leadership in order to redress grievances they encounter.

Ten years later, Speak Out! Toastmasters inspired the formation of other gay-identified clubs in Southern California, including West Hollywood Toastmasters. As Speak Out! Reaches it tenth anniversary, current members, past club members, and guests are invited to a special anniversary meeting and club reunion at 7pm.

For most people, public speaking is not a favorite pastime. Yet survey after survey shows that presentation skills are crucial to success in the work place. The person with strong communication skills has a clear advantage over tongue-tied colleagues – especially in a competitive job market. Many people pay thousands of dollars for seminars to gain the skill and confidence necessary to face an audience. But there’s another option that is less expensive and held in high regard in business circles – Toastmasters International. This organization has been around for nearly 80 years and offers a proven – and enjoyable! – way to practice and hone the communication and leadership skills of its members.

Toastmasters International is a nonprofit educational organization that teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a worldwide network of clubs. Founded in October 1924, the organization currently has more than 280,000 members in 13,500-plus clubs in 116 countries. Each week, Toastmasters helps more than a quarter million people of every ethnicity, education level and profession build their competence in communication so they can gain the confidence to lead others. For information about local Toastmasters clubs, please visit www.toastmasters.org.

Speak Out! Toastmasters Club meets weekly on Saturdays from 10:30am to 12pm. The group welcome adults of all genders and sexual orientations, including gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, and heterosexual people. Members have the opportunity to practice public speaking and learn communication and leadership skills in a supportive environment, among friends.

Speak Out! Toastmasters Club has been recognized by Toastmasters International as a President’s Distinguished Club. For more information, please visit the club’s web site at www.speakouttoastmasters.org or call (818) 973-2283.

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