In the weeks and months following the passage of Proposition 8 in California – and after voters in Florida, Arkansas and Arizona enshrined discrimination in their state laws, too – something remarkable began to happen: The phones at PFLAG began to ring off the hook, and our email boxes filled up to capacity. From California to Florida and everywhere in-between, Americans were turning to PFLAG as a resource for turning our disappointment into opportunity.Since PFLAG was founded in 1972, we have often been the only supportive resource for families in small communities across the country. And, every year, more and more people turn to PFLAG not only for support when a loved one comes out . . . but also to learn how they can stand up for their own families and move equality forward for those they love. So it’s no wonder that, after suffering disappointing losses during Election 2008, those who were emboldened to take action turned to PFLAG first.
Since Election Day 2008, PFLAG National has received more than 75 requests, from communities coast-to-coast, about bringing a PFLAG chapter to town.We have received inquiries about starting new chapters in states such as Mississippi, Alabama, Ohio, Florida, California, Utah, Texas and Idaho, among others. In Texas alone, a half-dozen people have expressed an interest in organizing a local PFLAG presence and at least four inquiries have come from California. And already, new chapters are blossoming in their hometowns, and doing extraordinary work to change hearts and minds, and enlist new allies.
In Terre Haute, Indiana, local columnist Stephanie Salter recently wrote that, “PFLAG Terre Haute can’t get rolling soon enough.” And in Tulare and Kings County, California – where Proposition 8 was overwhelmingly favored by voters – the local PFLAG chapter also appeared in their hometown paper, which noted that the chapter “was founded eight months ago, and now has 22 members. About 40 people attend monthly meetings, which are every third Sunday of the month.” That coverage followed a profile, just days earlier, of Kathy Reim, a PFLAG Regional Director, in The Skagit Valley Herald, which referred to Reim as “a champion for diversity,” who “is well-known in Skagit County for her efforts to promote tolerance and fight discrimination.”Those are just three examples of the power – and people – of PFLAG. And just imagine the impact of the larger PFLAG family - which is nearly 500 chapters and more than 200,000 supporters strong – in cities and towns across the country!
Because of your support, PFLAG National was able to stand with our Norman, Oklahoma, chapter when it recently called out a local school district for cancelling a school project centered around The Laramie Project. Your help enabled us to bring retired Air Force Colonel Dan Tepfer to Washington, as he joined other veterans from across the country at the U.S. Capitol to call for repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” And your commitment to PFLAG’s work ensured that our Cultivating Respect program to create safe schools made headlines in Colorado Springs – the home of the anti-LGBT group Focus on the Family – ahead of our training taking place there this month.In short, your involvement in PFLAG ensures that PFLAG has the resources to get involved when and where we’re needed most. And, judging from the recent spike in calls about new chapters, PFLAG is needed now more than ever.
Here are some of the other initiatives PFLAG is involved with, both nationally and in communities across the country:
- We recently released Welcoming Our Transgender Family & Friends, a new publication that includes insights from the parents of trans children, professional viewpoints from experts on gender issues, and information on terminology. To download a free .pdf copy of this ground-breaking publication, click here.
- In Chicago, The Tribune profiled Lee Neubecker – son of PFLAG National Vice-President and RDC Chair Mike Neubecker – in a comprehensive story about marriage equality. The full story, which also includes an online video exploring the arguments for and against marriage equality, can be found online here.
- PFLAG also enlisted its newest straight ally – Prayers for Bobby actor Scott Bailey – in our work to move equality forward. Scott recently sat down with Ambiente Magazine to talk about his work on the film and his passion for PFLAG. To read the full interview, visit Ambiente online.
- We launched the first in an on-going series of PFLAG Updates with The Derek and Romaine Show on Sirius OutQ radio. Colonel Dan Tepfer spoke with the radio hosts about his work to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and other PFLAG spokespeople will be on the air, discussing our work, in the months ahead.
- We blogged on HuffingtonPost about the change PFLAG families are making the heartland, noting that, as President Obama has told the country, “Change doesn’t come from Washington, it comes to Washington.”
- We spoke with South African activist Christina Engela about her work on equality efforts there, and the alarming rise of “ex-gay” ministries on the African continent. To read the full interview, visit the PFLAG Blog.
- We spoke to BlogTalk Radio hostess Norma Stanley about PFLAG’s work to support families and advance equality for LGBT people. To listen to the full, archived interview, visit Norma’s website online.
- And we took Cultivating Respect, our safe schools training program, to California, where our Safe Schools Coordinator, Suzanne Greenfield, noted that, “over 35 smart, caring, funny, and dedicated members”showed up to learn more about speaking out in their local school districts.
None of this extraordinary work would be possible without the passion, generosity and commitment of each member of our PFLAG family. So, if you haven’t yet done so, please join PFLAG National as an official member or renew your membership for 2009, or renew your membership in your local chapter.
Your support makes all the difference in our work to move equality forward, and as we’ve seen in the months since Election Day 2008, your participation matters now, more than ever.
Thank you for being part of our family!
Jody M. Huckaby