Monday, June 23, 2008

PFLAG Comes to TULARE-KINGS COUNTIES in CA

Joan Palmer, co-founder of PFLAG Tulare-Kings Counties, writes a guest blog entry about the foundation of and the excitement surrounding a new PFLAG chapter in California.

This past November, my husband and I moved from Northern California to the South Central Valley. One of the main things we were going to miss when we made the move was the chapter we had a hand in helping establish...PFLAG of Greater Placer County. We scanned the Internet and found the closest chapter to our new home was in Fresno – a 45 minutes drive. Our two minds thought as one: we're going to help found another chapter for an area in desperate need of one.

And so it began. The networking aspect of the process was made easy by my husband and his love of talking. He contacted www.queervisalia.com and explained to the Web Owner what we planned to do and what we hoped to accomplish. We were invited to the “Queer Visalia” Meet and Greets where we were given time at these social events to talk about the need for a PFLAG here and our vision for a new chapter. People really started warming up to us when they realized that these two old people are true allies.

Within three months we had formed a core group from the Meet and Greet as well as with other straight allies met along the way. At our second meeting one of our group members thought we should try an informational meeting to test the murky waters here in the Valley. We checked with PFLAG National and received the “OK” to give it a shot. Before we went “public” we decided to have a “practice meeting” at our house made up of the planning group, since most had never been to an actual PFLAG meeting. Would you believe that little "practice" meeting had several of what we call “PFLAG Moments”--mini meltdowns and understanding looks?

The day of the meeting finally arrived on June 19th, 2008. We had no idea what to expect or who would attend, but we were full of hope. And amazingly enough, with 20 minutes remaining before the meeting was scheduled to begin, people started to arrive. Not just a few, but enough to fill the entire room. We had to make the circle of chairs bigger and bigger until the backs were up against the walls. As one of our members put it, “I don’t know how many people are here, but there’s a butt in every chair.” Well, there were over 40 people to be counted and the meeting was a terrific success. We told the story of PFLAG, went around the circle and witnessed the inevitable PFLAG Moments take place over and over again. We watched a short video and when it was over, people stayed. They stayed to talk and to have the opportunity to look into the eyes of others who believe like they do that PFLAG is here to stay.

The meetings will now run regularly the third Sunday of every month. And we look forward to growth and being a force for change within our community here in the South Valley.

One of our members created our website at no charge to us, and another developed our MySpace page.

Check us out! We are so exceptionally excited.

To contact us, emails can be sent to info@pflag-tulare-kings.org
and phone inquiries can be directed to 559-579-1101.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Nice write up Joan! I am so blessed to be able to call you "my friend"
Rhonda

Anonymous said...

Great write up Joan! I am so blessed to call you my friend.
Rhonda

Anonymous said...

Joan, very good write up and I really enjoyed that meeting and was amazed at the attendance. A lot of good and caring people were there to share and help create a outstanding group that I and my partner is looking forward to being a part of. PFLAG is wanted and needed in Tulare County. Thank you for starting this movement and creating a safe environment for our community.
Prestie and Van