Friday, January 30, 2009

The Straight for Equality Awards Gala: You're Invited!

Straight for Equality and PFLAG National request the pleasure of your company at the first annual Straight for Equality Awards Gala.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Reception: 7:00 PM
Dinner, Awards, Auction and Dancing: 7:30 PM

(Formal or Business Attire)

At the New York Marriott Marquis
1535 Broadway
New York City

Tickets: $500 individual / $5,000 full table (10 seats)

Straight for Equality, launched in October 2007, is a national outreach and education project created by PFLAG National to empower allies in supporting and advocating for LGBT people.

The project invites, educates, and engages straight allies to move equality forward.

Our 2009 honorees are Dr. Maya Angelou, recipient of the Straight for Equality in Arts & Humanities Award; Sigourney Weaver, recipient of the Straight for Equality in Entertainment Award; Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole, recipient of the Straight for Equality in Education Award; and IBM, recipient of the Straight for Equality in Business Award.

Join Gala Chair Ted Childs, our emcee, CNN's Soledad O'Brien and auctioneer Judy Reyes in New York City!

For more information, or to purchase tickets, click here.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Photos from 'Bobby'

Metro Weekly has snapshots in today's issue from PFLAG's D.C. reception with actor Scott Bailey from Prayers for Bobby.

Check our MW's online gallery of photos, here.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

2009: The Year Ahead for Straight for Equality!

Happy New Year from Straight for Equality!

At this time of year everyone is celebrating all things new: new year, new beginnings, etc. So, in the spirit of the season, let’s take a look at all the brand-spankin’-new things that Straight for Equality has to offer:

Straight for Equality message boards! Here you can connect with other allies and discuss anything your heart desires, from current events to personal stories. Start a conversation today!

Training programs: they’re not all new, but they’re all improved! Interested in moving equality forward at work? Check out Straight for Equality in the Workplace! For a straight ally 101, take a look at our How to be an Ally training. Are you an experienced advocate for equality looking to reach out to and engage more allies? Give The Care and Feeding of Straight Allies a try.

Updated Resources! On our new Resources page, you’ll find an updated recommended reading list, a selection of films for allies, a great glossary of helpful terms, and even an “Ask an Ally” column.

And coming soon in 2009…

The First Annual Straight for Equality Awards Gala:

On Thursday night, February 5, 2009, in New York City’s Times Square, PFLAG and Straight for Equality will make history by hosting the first annual Straight for Equality Awards Gala. At this event, we take time to honor and celebrate a few straight allies that embody the values of PFLAG and Straight for Equality.

This year, we are proud to recognize Dr. Maya Angelou, Sigourney Weaver, Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole and IBM. We’ve also got CNN’s Soledad O’Brien as emcee, Gala Chair J.T. (Ted) Childs, Jr., and Judy Reyes from ABC’s Scrubs as our auctioneer.

Click here to purchase tickets and learn more about this fabulous event!

Also coming in 2009: Straight for Equality in Healthcare! Are you a straight ally in the healthcare field? We’re in the process of developing Straight for Equality in Healthcare, a set of resources for anyone who works in healthcare, from doctors to nurses to psychologists to receptionists working in doctors’ offices, and anyone in between. Look for Straight for Equality in Healthcare on in early 2009!

Happy New Year everyone, and have fun exploring Straight for Equality!

- Julie Handy

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Monday, January 26, 2009

Book Review: Rainbow Plantation Blues

While it is well known that plantation owners in the South before the civil war considered their slaves as property and were wont to use female slaves sexually, here is a novel that brings alternative sexual relationships into the mix.

Jonathan Thomas, the son of one such Southern Gentleman returns home in 1850 from an Ivy League school in the North. His father is dying, and Jonathon is expected to marry and continue the prosperity his highly respected father so diligently acquired. Through discussion with his classmates at University, Jonathan has begun to question slavery and the concept that these are not people, but animals. Meanwhile, his mother has selected a bride for him, who she invites to their home. The young lady is impressed with Jonathan’s looks as well as his inheritance.

Jonathan, however, has no interest in her. While up North, he began to recognize his sexual interest – in other men. On his return to Rainbow Plantation, he sees Kumi - his young black playmate from his early years, – all grown up. He is immediately attracted to him. Jonathan is doubly frightened. Sodomy in the South is punishable by death, and sodomy with a black slave would be a scandal that his family could never overcome.

This book shows the reader many of the atrocities foisted on black human beings by the South’s “peculiar institution.” It also brings together distant family members, while covering much of the gender variant spectrum, with gay, lesbian, and transgender characters. While some of the dialogue seemed a bit off, the story as a whole is well done.

I liked it, and I recommend it to students of history as well as the GLBT community.

For more information about this release, visit the author's website, at

- Dave Parker

'Bobby' in Dayton

PFLAG Board Member, and Dayton PFLAG Member, Dan Tepfer sent along these snapshots from Sunday's event with Ryan Kelley, star of 'Prayers for Bobby.' More than 100 people turned out to hear Ryan talk about the film and to learn more about PFLAG's efforts in the heartland.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

'Prayers' & Recruiting in Washington, D.C.

"I'm Scott Bailey, and I'm here to recruit you."

Borrowing a popular line from gay icon Harvey Milk, one of the stars of Lifetime's Prayers for Bobby greeted nearly 200 people last night at the Georgetown home of Dixon Osburn & Jeremy Hodder in Washington, D.C. Bailey, who portrays Bobby's first boyfriend in the film, was the headline guest at PFLAG National's official celebration of the film's premiere, and energized a standing-room-only crowd (at two receptions on the same evening) with his thoughts on the movie, the book and the power of PFLAG.

"Are any of you a little disappointed in the success of Proposition 8 in California?," Bailey asked. "Did any of you have some difficulty coming out to your own family?"

"Then do I have the film for you."

Prayers, Bailey told the crowd, is the film he is "most proud of," adding that the movie had been in the works for many years and "when I finally got a call about it, the producers told me I was a little old to play Bobby now, but did I want to come to Detroit and film for four weeks with Sigourney and play the perfect boyfriend?"

"I said 'Let me think about that . . . ummmm, yeah!'"

"I got to play the perfect, supportive, loving boyfriend," he said, adding that he hopes - and expects - star Sigourney Weaver to pull in an Emmy nod for her role as PFLAG mom Mary Griffith. And PFLAG, Bailey told those in the room, has been a tremendous resource for families like the Griffiths.

"I'm so thankful for groups like PFLAG," Bailey concluded before taking questions from the crowd. "There are many other Bobby's out there, and they are looking for a place to go, like PFLAG, to be safe and find the support they need."

And all of us at PFLAG are grateful for the support of Scott and others who joined us to toast the film and help raise funds for PFLAG's work.

('Prayers for Bobby' airs again tonight - Sunday - at 8pm ET on Lifetime. Read Scott's thoughts on the film in his earlier PFLAG blog entry . . . and check out 'Metro Weekly' and 'The Washington Blade,' later this week, for more photos from Saturday's evening.)

Friday, January 23, 2009

Sigourney Weaver Discusses PFLAG & 'Prayers' on 'The View'

PFLAG 'Prayers' Around the Country

This weekend, join PFLAG and Lifetime to celebrate the release of Prayers for Bobby, the powerful new film starring Sigourney Weaver, Ryan Kelly and Scott Bailey.

Prayers is the true story of Mary Griffith, a devoutly religious mother who struggles to accept her son, Bobby, when he comes out as a young gay man. Following a tragic turn in Bobby’s life, Mary begins an incredible journey toward embracing the gay community . . . with a little help from PFLAG along the way.

This Saturday and Sunday, PFLAG supporters across the country will gather to watch Prayers and talk about the role PFLAG played in the life of Mary Griffith and countless other parents with LGBT loved ones. Cast members will join PFLAG in Dayton, Ohio; Washington, D.C.; and Detroit for premiere events. And PFLAG chapters and supporters in other cities will also gather to discuss Prayers and their own work to help the Mary Griffiths of the world on their journeys, too.

Please join us for one of these upcoming viewing parties:

Washington, D.C. – January 24th @ 5pm & 7:30pm

Join star Scott Bailey for the official PFLAG National reception at the home of C. Dixon Osburn and Jeremy Hodder. Hundreds of PFLAG supporters are expected to turn out for a festive celebration of Prayers and an exclusive Q & A with Scott. To RSVP, please email

(Please note the 5pm reception is completely booked and only 7:30pm slots are currently available.)

For a special look inside the making of Prayers, read Scott’s guest post on the PFLAG blog, here.

Dayton, Ohio – January 25th @ 3pm

Join PFLAG Dayton and actor Ryan Kelley (Bobby in Prayers) for an afternoon reception at Cross Creek Community Church to learn more about Kelley’s experience with the film, and his own thoughts on the power of PFLAG. To RSVP, please email

(Please note that seating is limited, and available only on a first come-first serve basis.)

Detroit, Michigan – January 24th from 4-11pm

Join PFLAG Detroit for a special viewing party on Saturday evening with local cast members from Prayers. Raffles and prizes will be awarded throughout the evening, with appearances from PFLAG supporters who appear in the film! For more information, or to RSVP, email

Winston-Salem, North Carolina – January 24th @ 9pm

PFLAG of Winston-Salem's Interfaith Coalition will host a Viewing Party for Prayers for Bobby on Jan. 24th in the Lower Auditorium of Wingate Hall on the Campus of Wake Forest University. Seating is limited to around 100 people. For more information email or

Be sure to visit our listing of other viewing parties (including parties in Nashville, Fort Worth, Key West and more).

For more information on upcoming events, visit the PFLAG National Blog, as well as the Prayers page on the PFLAG website, here.

Then, make plans to join us this weekend as we celebrate the premiere of Prayers for Bobby!

A Little to the Left

Recently, PFLAG National received a telephone call from Sandi Timberlake, who owns A Little to the Left LLC, a San Diego based greeting card company. Sandi is a PFLAG mom who felt it was important to honor her son by creating a line of cards designed for specifically for the friends and families of the gay community, as well as the gay community itself.

As the proud mother of Sean Timberlake, who has been in a committed relationship for over 15 years, she has been frustrated with the lack of appropriate greeting cards available to her to send her son and his long-term partner. Often, she would find cards that were too raunchy or comical, especially for parents, or other family members to honor their loved ones. So she decided to create appropriate cards for herself and for all those other mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and friends of the gay community who felt the same frustration.

Sandi has graciously offered to donate a portion of the proceeds she receives from cards she sells from people following this link to PFLAG. Please visit her site at, where you can currently find her “Gay Friendly” line of cards. She hopes to expand to several more lines soon, including “Blended Family” and “Just Say It” lines, which are already in the works. We are grateful to Sandi for her support and hope you will show it too.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Impressions on Straightlaced

PFLAG members in California attended the premier of a new educational film Straightlaced- How Gender’s Got Us All Tied Up. We all know that our society holds strict notions about what it is to be male and female and how that relates to identity, expression and sexual orientation. Hearing how those constraints, messages, and beliefs effect students from very different communities is the foundation of this new release by our friends at Groundspark who have given us It’s Elementary, It’s Still Elementary, That’s a Family and Let’s Get Real.

Sandy Mackovich, San Francisco PFLAG's Publicity Coordinator shared some of her impressions of the experience.

“We were collectively in awe of these teenagers, they showed remarkable courage. They were true and honest about their feelings which weren’t always easy to hear but it provided them a safe place to openly talk. There was one young man in particular, who is an Eagle Scout, something that is very important to him. He came out in the film and risks the chance of losing his Eagle Scout status. There was a collective gasp in the auditorium when he spoke on the film. It was clear we were all floored by his bravery.”

She went on to say, "I have been a member of PFLAG for 10+ years and I learned a lot from these kids in Straightlaced. It was the perfect reminder that showing support, offering a gentle non-confrontational comment and leading by example can get others to change their minds. It was just what I needed to re-ground myself after the devastating loss of "NO on Prop 8," here in California. I have been extremely angry for the last couple of months, yet listening to these kids reminded me that I need to continue being respectful of others, even those that differ.”

Sandy concluded by saying, “I walked away completely inspired by these kids and excited about the opportunity for our youth if this is presented around the country and used as a discussion topic.”

We also heard from PFLAG National summer intern Christine Holcomb who attended the showing and reminds us that whether we are students looking for a forum to address these issues or adults who can provide the opportunity for such discussions, Straightlaced is a great teaching tool. See Christine’s essay here.

- Suzanne Greenfield

Straightlaced: It's Time to Talk About Gender

Christine Holcomb was PFLAG National's summer intern last year, and returns to our blog to tell us about the screening of Straightlaced that she attended recently...

In a "perfect" heterosexist, homophobic world, guys would be straight, macho and muscular, dress in masculine clothes (whatever that is), be taken care of by women, be the protector, the breadwinner, the brains; women would be straight, petite and curvaceous, doing the cooking and cleaning, raising the children, and not be threatening with skills or brains that could challenge those of men.

But we’re passed this, aren’t we? After all, women can get an education, vote, run for president, be CEO’s, even fight in the military. And yet heterosexist and homophobic attitudes have a serious impact on how our children act and who they become. Straightlaced: How Gender’s Got Us All Tied Up, brings the heterosexist and homophobic norms to life and unveils the mask we’ve been using to fool ourselves into thinking we live in any other kind of world.

By interviewing teens from high schools all across the country, we hear what teen age boys are told about what it means to be a man and how women are told to act in order to attract them. It’s still the case that some men won’t date women smarter than them, or that women are told that they are too strong, too loud or too aggressive, and it’s still true that men sleep with women to gain status and women have to walk the line of being considered prude and promiscuous. These kids confess that the colors they wear, the accessories they wear and the way they wear them threaten the homophobic and heterosexist norms; their sexuality is monitored and challenged all the time. One guy said he wanted to wear a scarf because he was cold, but knew he’d be called gay for it and sure enough, “Someone asked me, ‘Why are you wearing that scarf, dude, are you gay?’ I said, ‘No, man, my neck is cold. You got a problem with that?’” And while adults often wonder why there is so many of our youth are having sex so young, it might have something to do with guarding their sexuality and controlling how others perceive them because, “if you don’t talk about how much sex you’re having, other guys think you’re gay.” And yes, being called gay is the worst insult. It will make students “part like the red seas”, be weary of being alone with you and cause teammates to challenge your motives, as one cheerleader had to defend another cheerleader telling other girls on the team that she’s not touching you inappropriately, “she’s trying to save you from falling to the ground.”

Yup, sadly, many of the things a lot of adults have fought to expose and change are still effecting our youth today in a strong way- and not for the better- because it means women are still treated like objects, and men are still confined to only express certain feelings, like anger instead of sadness. The heterosexist and homophobic system that Straightlaced exposes goes beyond values and preferences and is shown to threaten the very uniqueness that makes our children beautiful.

Join Groundspark in sharing and viewing this film with the adults and children you love and then talking about it, because as the producers of Straightlaced found out: youth are dying to talk to someone about all of this, so why not you?

'Prayers' at Columbia Theological Seminary

On Saturday evening, PFLAG supporters are invited to join students at the Columbia Theological Seminary for a screening of Lifetime's Prayers for Bobby. Students, led by Laura Jones, will hold a viewing at 9pm in the Richards Center.

For directions to the Center, click here. And a campus map is available online here. For more information, or to RSVP, please email Laura ahead of the event.

Columbia Theological Seminary is a Presbyterian-PCUSA school with an active Imago Dei group dedicated to gays being honored and recognized in the Church.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

A Once in a Lifetime Experience: A Guest Post by Scott Bailey

Actor Scott Bailey (pictured), who will join PFLAG in Washington on Saturday to celebrate the premiere of 'Prayers for Bobby,' penned this guest blog post about the story, his experience making the film, and the importance of 'Prayers.'

Yes, “PRAYERS FOR BOBBY” will air on LIFETIME starting Jan 24th but the title is more than just clever wordplay: it is my heartfelt truth! It feels like a miracle that such a timely and meaningful film has come to fruition and I am beyond honored to have been a part of it.


Prayers for Bobby is based upon the true story and critically acclaimed book by Leroy Aarons about a young gay man, Bobby (played by a heartbreaking Ryan Kelley), who because of his religious beliefs and family pressure, sets out to cure himself of being gay. The attempted cure tragically ends with his suicide which instigates questioning by his mother, Mary Griffith (played powerfully by Sigourney Weaver), of her blind-faith regarding homosexuality. She eventually becomes a gay rights activist and attempts to break this cycle of needless tragedy by telling her story. Mr. Aarons read bout Mary’s heartbreak in an article in his local paper, contacted her and she shared with him Bobby’s journals which chronicled his struggle. From that moment on, Mr. Aarons knew he had to write this story.

Twelve years ago, a young gay man who had recently ‘come out’ to his own family came across this book at a bookstore in West Hollywood. This man was so moved by the story that he enlisted his producing partner in the journey to make it a movie for all to see. For eleven years they doggedly pursued the development of the movie at multiple studios and networks all the while handing out copies of the book to anyone interested. I received a copy after having luckily run into these men in the frozen yogurt aisle in Ralph's grocery store. I wept like a baby while reading it and have since become a friends with and a huge fan of CHRIS TAAFFE and DANIEL SLADEK, the passionate executive producers of this film, great guys, and two of the most remarkable human beings I have ever met!!

Last April , the movie was green lit at Lifetime and Sigourney Weaver was set to star as Mary Griffith. I was lucky enough to audition for and eventually get to play the role of David, Bobby’s loving boyfriend who represents hope in the embodiment of a young gay man with supportive parents who is at peace with homosexuality. In June, I flew out to Detroit for 3 weeks to play the most meaningful role in my career, act with amazing actors such as Sigourney and Ryan, play my first gay character and for the first time in my life: kiss another guy!


I will never forget the energy and emotion on the set while filming Prayers for Bobby. The poignancy and importance of this story fueled a reverence and passion amongst producers, actors and crew alike which resulted in the most visceral movie-making I have ever experienced! Many people involved had experienced similar hardships ‘coming out’ and all were united in wanting to open hearts and minds toward an understanding of homosexuality.

It was admittedly a learning experience even for me, an actor, living in Hollywood, with many close gay friends. I learned that the suicide rate is 4 TIMES higher amongst gay teens than straight teens. I also learned that homosexuality is definitely not a “choice” or “preference” or even something that can be taught yet it is widely feared and viewed askance! Hopefully, films like this can reveal the ongoing discrimination for what it is, show examples of how life can be, and by doing so provide a beacon of hope to homosexuals and their families.


This past November we elected the first African American President of the United States of America. In that same election, California passed Proposition 8 which basically repeals the right of homosexual marriage. In the 60’s the interracial parents of our new President Barack Obama were not legally allowed to marry, segregation was rampant, and the 14th amendment of the U.S constitution, in particular the guarantee to equal protection under the law, was denied to African American citizens. This same14th amendment is being denied to our homosexual citizens today and I feel it is an extremely prescient time to stand up and express my disapproval. I am reminded that “All it takes for evil to flourish is for enough good me to do nothing”! As an actor, I am doing what I can by portraying characters like David and promoting films such as “Prayers for Bobby” which have the power to educate, enlighten and save lives.


I am Scott Bailey, proud American, actor, writer, artist, engineer and the kind of guy who strives to stand up for what is right and to be a part of the solution instead of part of the problem. I try to live by the principle my grandfather, Bill J. Bailey, instilled in me: “Always leave a place better off than when you arrived.” I am a descendent of John Alden who came over on the Mayflower and I can only imagine the kind of courage it took to risk life and family in the pursuit of the freedom we now enjoy. I am also a huge admirer of our founding fathers who risked their own power, wealth, and lives to stand up against a tyrannical government.

Growing up I had few examples of homosexuality: Liberace, Robin Williams in “The Birdcage”, Seinfeld's oft repeated stance “not that there is anything wrong with that..”, and the occasional “that's gay!” comment. I don’t even remember knowing any gay people until I moved to Los Angeles. I do, however, remember the first time I heard the comment “that's so gay!” when I was with a gay friend. I remember it because I felt a sense of injustice and later embarrassment for not saying anything. Thereafter I decided that I would never “not say anything” again!! Today, I know enough gay people to know that there is no difference, they are as “normal” as anyone else and simply have a different sexuality.


“I am Scott Bailey and I am here to recruit you!! “You may recognize that line from Harvey Milk, the first openly gay publicly elected official in the U.S. who recruited people to stand up for their own rights. He then proceeded to lead by example. I’d like to recruit you to watch this film and similarly stand up for what you think is right.

As a straight white guy I think it is right and important for me to stand up for the minority, don’t you? I hope I’d have stood up to give my seat to Rosa Parks, don’t you? I hope if I’d been a founding father I would have risked my life to create a better future, don’t you? I hope if I’d been around during WWII that I would’ve volunteered to fight for freedom, don’t you? In this day and age I am proud to see an African American President, not merely because he is black but because he was the best man for the job, aren’t you? I am also very disappointed that anyone in this great country is discriminated against, aren’t you? I therefore think it is a moral imperative that movies like Prayers for Bobby are made and seen! DON’T YOU?!

- Scott Bailey

Monday, January 19, 2009

PFLAG Family: United States of Tara

PFLAG supporter (and Navy veteran) Jason Knight (pictured) blogs about the new Showtime series United States of Tara over at his blog My Normal Gay Life.

"The new series follows Tara, played by Toni Collette, a struggling mom dealing with disassociative identity disorder, commonly known as multiple personality disorder," Knight writes, adding that, "With the support of her husband Max (John Cobett) and children Marshall and Kate (Keir Gilchrist / Brie Larson), Tara attempts to juggle all there is to being a mom."

"That includes raising a family of acceptance."

"Teen son Marshall, played by Keir Gilchrist, bakes, is highly articulate, and a snappy dresser; steering away from what the world would see as normal gender roles for male boys," Knight notes. "However, he is embraced and supported by his family, a loving PFLAG family - despite jabs from Buck, one of Tara's alter personalities who refers to Marshal as 'Marsha.'"

To read the full write-up about Tara, and watch the premiere episode in its entirety, visit My Normal Gay Life online.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Gay But Equal?

Mary Frances Berry, former chairwoman of the Commission on Civil Rights, asks the question today in her New York Times op-ed, Gay But Equal?

Berry spells out the many inequalities LGBT people in America face, from housing, employment, and legal benefits, to the military's "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policies, to adoption and relationship recognition that heterosexual people take for granted.

But she goes one step further. She calls on Obama and his new administration to take a proactive step in addressing LGBT civil rights:

"The creation of a new, independent human and civil rights commission could help us determine our next steps in the pursuit of freedom and justice in our society. A number of explosive issues like immigration reform await such a commission, but recommendations for resolving the controversies over the rights of gays, lesbians and transgendered people should be its first order of business."

Click here to read her complete op-ed in The New York Times.

Join PFLAG Winston-Salem for a "Prayers for Bobby"

PFLAG of Winston-Salem's Interfaith Coalition will host a Viewing Party for Prayers for Bobby on Jan. 24th in the Lower Auditorium of Wingate Hall on the Campus of Wake Forest University.

The movie begins at 9:00PM and will be shown on a large projection screen.
Seating is limited to around 100 people. Admission is free and snacks will be provided.

For more information e-mail or

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Join PFLAG Detroit and Selected Cast for "Prayers for Bobby" Viewing Party!

Join PFLAG Detroit for a special viewing party this January, 24, 2009!

PFLAG Detroit and Pronto! restaurant are hosting a special screening of Prayers for Bobby (which was filmed in Royal Oak, Michigan).

Come watch the film with family and friends! There will be raffles and prizes awarded throughout the evening!

Saturday, January 24, 2009
4:00 – 11:00 pm
Pronto! Restaurant
608 Washington St.
Royal Oak, MI 48067

PFLAG Detroit Co-president Larry Jack tells us, “Several people who were 'extras' in the film will be in attendance!”

For more information, contact PFLAG Detroit Co-president Larry Jack at

Inside the Transition: Meeting with LGBT Leaders, the official website of President-Elect Obama's transition team, has posted a video message regarding a recent meeting between transition team leaders and the country's leading LGBT advocacy groups, including PFLAG.

Letters to Rick Warren

Brent Childers over at Faith in America (an organization dedicated to ending anti-gay bigotry in faith communities) shared this with us today:

Faith in America hand-delivered letters to Pastor Rick Warren at the Saddleback Church. Rick Warren has been the center of controversy after being invited deliver the invocation at President-Elect Obama's inauguration, due to anti-gay statements he has made. PFLAG responded in a letter to Obama, expressing our dismay at Warren's invitation. Earlier this week we reported that Obama has now also invited openly gay Bishop Gene Robinson to the inaugural event.

Watch these videos of the powerful and moving letters they delivered to Rick Warren for yourself...

If I Were Your Daughter?

An Open Letter to Pastor Rick Warren

Sharon Gless on PFLAG Moms, Granddaughters & Going 'Straight for Equality'

In an exclusive cover story with Ambiente Magazine, award-winning actress Sharon Gless dishes about her gay fans . . . her upcoming film (Hannah Free) . . . and her decision to sign PFLAG's Straight for Equality pledge during a recent cruise with fellow actress Rosie O'Donnell and R Family Vacations.

"I had a very personal reason for signing it," Gless told Ambiente. "First of all, Rosie asked me if I would present it to the audience. I have a granddaughter who is gay, who came out about three years ago, so I said, 'I'm signing this in honor of my granddaughter, who I adore.' I did it because my granddaughter is fabulous and because Rosie said 'would you sign this' and I said 'absolutely.'"

"I signed it because it sets an example," she said.

Gless also commented to Ambiente about her experience playing Debbie, "the iconic PFLAG mom," on the hit Showtime series Queer as Folk.

"I heard from a lot of gay men because of Queer as Folk," she told Ambiente. "Some were hesitating in coming out, because their best friend had killed himself. But I also have letters from young men who told me that their parents watched the show to see Debbie, and they wanted their mothers to be like Debbie. I think the show saved a lot of lives."

Gless told the magazine it was "an honor" to play Debbie and that she is "very honored that [she] gets picked to bring gay issues to the forefront," as she is with Hannah Free, where she plays an aging lesbian spearated from her partner in a nursing home.

It is a story, Gless says, "that will touch people's hearts."

"The gay community has always been there for me," the actress said. "And it has been wonderful to get these parts that allow me to tell the gay parts. Not only the fun parts, but the sadness and the struggle that goes with it."

For the complete Ambiente interview with Gless, including her thoughts on Proposition 8, Cagney and Lacey and more, click here.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

"10,000 Dresses" and Other Books for Young People

As the Safe Schools Coordinator here at PFLAG I get many questions about good books, movies, and materials that we can offer to schools. In our new safe schools booklet, The Top Ten Ways to Make Schools Safer…For All Students we highlight books, movies and programs that are age appropriate and great for schools.

Today I read this review of a new children's book on Pam’s House Blend and I wanted to share it with you. The truth is I personally have already bought this book, and given it as a present . It is a wonderful story that lets you see the world through the eyes of a gender variant child.

So if you need a present for a child, a school library or a book drive… check it out. And if you would like to talk about book idea for your school please contact me and I would love to help you find appropriate books for the schools in your community.

-Suzanne Greenfield

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tell Pepsi THANK YOU For Supporting Our Families!

Tell Pepsi THANK YOU For Supporting Our Families!

Last week, the American Family Association launched a boycott of PepsiCo. The AFA boycott is based, in part, on the PepsiCo Foundation's support of PFLAG’s Straight for Equality in the Workplace project.

Please let Pepsi know that you appreciate their support for our families and will support the company when you are shopping.

Please call PepsiCo's customer relations line at 1-800-433-2652 today.

When you call, please be brief in your comments. Politely tell the operator that:

* You are a PFLAG member and want to thank Pepsi for its support of your family;

* You plan to purchase Pepsi products whenever possible to show your support for the company’s welcoming policies; and

* You support Pepsi and your area bottlers and will refuse to participate in the boycott.

For more information on Pepsi’s generous gift to Straight for Equality, click here.

Thank you for your support of PFLAG, Straight for Equality and PepsiCo. Then, forward this alert to all of your friends . . . ask them to support PepsiCo . . . and remember when you shop to buy Pepsi products, like Tropicana, Frito Lay, Quaker and Gatorade.

Of Our Many Understandings

President-Elect Obama's upcoming inauguration has been tainted by controversy for many in the LGBT and ally community by the invitation to have Rick Warren present. PFLAG responded to President-Elect Obama last month in our open letter.

Photo courtesy: Bebeto Matthews/Associated Press

In a turn of events, Obama has also invited openly-gay Bishop Gene Robinson (who was a keynote speaker at our National Convention last year) to give a prayer at the inaugural invocation.

In keeping with openness and all-inclusiveness, Robinson is striving to be non-denominational and appeal to all Americans. Robinson told The New York Times today that “I am very clear.. that this will not be a Christian prayer, and I won’t be quoting Scripture or anything like that. The texts that I hold as sacred are not sacred texts for all Americans, and I want all people to feel that this is their prayer...[to] the God of our many understandings.”

How do you feel about this latest addition to the inaugural ceremonies? Do you think this is an olive branch to the LGBT and ally communities? Leave your comments in the comment section, below.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Help Bring Justice to Sean Kennedy!

On May 16, 2007, Sean Kennedy, a 20-year old gay man, was attacked on the streets of Greenville, South Carolina. He died of his injuries later that night. Yet, because of the lack of hate crimes legislation, his attacker may be eligible for parole in February!

Sean was a brave young man with a bright, infectious smile. But his life was cut short and justice left unserved. Now, PFLAG is joining with Sean’s mother, Elke Kennedy, and asking all of our members to write to the parole board and urge them to rule that Moller must serve his complete sentence for this heinous, anti-gay crime.

Because South Carolina – and many other states- lack protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, Moller was able to plea-bargain to involuntary manslaughter charges (considered a “non-violent crime”) and received a suspended five to three years sentence for his crime. Because of the credit he received for time served before sentencing, his full sentence means that he will be free in September 2009. And he is also eligible for parole in February, which means that he will have served only 8 months of his full sentence for Sean’s death.

The parole board is currently conducting a review on whether to grant Moller parole. It is critically important that they hear from our community, and that we each send a strong message that it is unacceptable to grant such early parole following a brutal anti-gay murder!

Please join us in writing a letter to the parole board, and ask them to deny Stephen Moller’s parole. If you have the time, please write a personal letter by hand or by computer, as those will be the most effective, and if you knew Sean or his family personally, please include that information.

Also, please let Elke Kennedy, Sean’s mother, know if you send a letter. Elke has asked that you also send her a copy of the letter, so she can have copies to take with her to the parole hearing. This will help her in building her case – and send a clear message that PFLAG families won’t tolerate anti-gay violence.

Be sure to include Moller's full name and ID number: Stephen Andrew Moller - SCDC ID # 00328891.

Send your letters to:
Department of Probation Pardon and Parole Services
2221 Devine Street, Suite 600,
PO Box 50666
Columbia, SC 29250

Also, please be sure to send a copy to Elke Kennedy, Sean’s mother. You can send materials to her at:

Or via mail: Elke Kennedy
PO Box 5697
Greenville, SC 29606

Be sure to read about PFLAG’s policy position in advocating for federal hate crimes legislation, too – to ensure that all people in all states have protections, and that future anti-gay violence will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law!

Join PFLAG Dayton and Ryan Kelley for Prayers for Bobby Viewing Party

Join PFLAG Dayton, Ohio and actor Ryan Kelley (who stars as Bobby, above with Sigourney Weaver as his mother, Mary) for their chapter Prayers for Bobby viewing party. Here's the details...

When: Sunday, January 25, 2009 at 3:00 PM
Where: Cross Creek Community Church, United Church of Christ
667 Miamisburg-Centerville Road
Dayton, OH 45459
RSVP: via e-mail: or by phone: 937-426-8037

There will be no charge. We will be asking for donations at the event. Seating is limited.

P.S.: If your chapter is sponsoring a Prayers for Bobby viewing party, please let us know!

Gibbs on Repeal: "Yes"

Robert Gibbs, press secretary for President-Elect Obama, responded to a supporter's question about the new commander-in-chief's support for repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" with a simple - and unmistakable - response.

We couldn't have said it better ourselves. For more information, and the full video, visit online.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Join Scott Bailey & PFLAG for 'Prayers' in D.C.

Please Join PFLAG and Actor Scott Bailey
As We Celebrate the Release of the Lifetime Original Movie

Prayers for Bobby

Saturday, January 24, 2009
5 – 7pm

Academy Award nominee and Golden Globe winner Sigourney Weaver stars in this emotional true story about a 1970s religious, suburban housewife and mother who struggle to accept her gay teenage son. What happens to Bobby is tragic and causes Mary to question her faith; ultimately, this mother changes her views in ways that she never could have imagined.

Based on the landmark book Prayers for Bobby by Leroy Aarons.

Introductory Remarks By PFLAG Executive Director Jody M. Huckaby

and featuring

Scott Bailey

please join us at the home of
C. Dixon Osburn & Jeremy Hodder
1545 33rd Street, N.W.
Washington, DC

RSVP by January 22nd to

Event Host Committee (as of January 9th):

Robby Gregg
Randy Griffin
Mark Guenther & Adam Dahl
Daniel J. Hagerty
Elizabeth Hampton Brown & Christopher Fregiato
Jody M. Huckaby & Stephen Goolsby
John P. Isa
Charles Jewett & Carlos Cortijo
David C. Manuel, Jr. & Raymond E. Harmon IV
Michael Marriott & Juan Toby Sanchez
Cathy & Leah McElrath Renna
Jean-Marie Navetta & Jude Medeiros
C. Dixon Osburn & Jeremy Hodder
Steve Ralls & Declan Amatus
David Van Lean & Scott Nelson
Bob Witeck & Bob Connelly

Thursday, January 8, 2009

"That's So Gay" - What Do You Say?

“That’s so gay.”

We’ve all heard that before! In fact, here at PFLAG’s Straight for Equality program, one of the most common questions we hear is how to respond when someone uses the word “gay” to refer to something bad or stupid.

Today, someone asked Philip Galanes of The New York Times Style Section how to respond when someone says “that’s so gay.” Here’s the response (scroll down to the third question):

Have your own questions about situations like this? Learn more about what you can do to support equality at the Straight for Equality website!

-Julie Handy

Vote for Repeal!, an online community focusing on issues of importance to military members and veterans has a poll under way now to gauge public support for repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

Log on now and vote "yes" on repeal. And for more information about "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," click here.

New Provider Conscience Rule Poses Significant Barriers

On December 18, 2008, the Bush Administration issued a new rule that would dramatically change federal law and enable individuals and institutions that receive federal funding to refuse providing medically appropriate healthcare services and information to patients because of their own religious, moral or personal objections to those services. The new rule, known as the “Provider Conscience Regulation,” completely ignores the needs of patients and the promotion of adequate public health.

Many organizations and individuals including medical providers, religious leaders, reproductive health providers and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) leaders amongst many others submitted over 200,000 public comments opposing this rule change. The comments expressed strong concern that these new rules will be interpreted to undermine statutes guaranteeing access to family planning and basic preventative care and emergency treatments for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) patients.

The United States Code already has sufficient protections for religious freedom, yet supporters of this rule aim to expand these protections beyond family planning services (i.e. abortion) to include common forms of birth control and basic healthcare for LGBT patients. Naturally, this rule change will pose significant barriers for people who have limited or no choice in where they can obtain medical care. Available services such as family planning, reproductive services and end of life decisions will be drastically limited in rural and low-income communities where there may be only one clinic, hospital or provider available.

Clearly this regulation could have profound effects on a patient’s ability to access certain healthcare services - transgender and gender non-conforming people are particularly vulnerable and may experience a significant rate of provider refusals for basic services such as preventive care or emergency treatment. Even with the rule scheduled to take effect on January 18, 2009 we can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that the majority of healthcare providers will continue to honor the Hippocratic Oath and treat all patients appropriately, rising above the prejudices of the very few who support such an unethical rule.

An overwhelming number of organizations, including PFLAG National, are working in coalition with the incoming Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), Tom Daschle, along with members of Congress in an effort to repeal this immoral rule. If you are interested in learning more about the Provider Conscience Regulation, please visit where you can review the rule’s content along with the public comments opposing such a change. If you want to express your opposition to this new rule, please be sure to contact your Congressional Representatives and urge them to repeal this rule before it is implemented.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Prayers for Bobby: The Trailer

Lifetime Television has just released the trailer for 'Prayers for Bobby,' premiering January 24th. For more information on upcoming events with PFLAG and the film's stars, click here and here.

Thank Campbell Soup Company for Supporting PFLAG!

Recently, a LGBT-affirming ad ran in The Advocate for Swanson brand broth, which is owned by the Campbell Soup Company.

The ad is part of Campbell's Home for the Holidays campaign and featured a lesbian couple with their son. Unfortunately the anti-LGBT American Family Association urged its members to contact Campbell's soup and criticize them for showing LGBT families in their advertising.

Please take the time to counter their anti-gay message and thank Campbell's for their support of the LGBT and ally community! Let's give kudos to Campbell's for showing that all of our families are worthy of respect.

We especially wish to thank Campbell's because they are a corporate sponsor for our upcoming 2009 Straight for Equality Awards Gala to be held February 5, 2009 in Times Square, New York City!

Be sure to email Anthony Sanzio, the Group Director for Corporate and Brand Communications for Campbell Soup Company ( and follow up with a phone call showing your appreciation as well (1-800-257-8443)!

Thank You, Dear Abby

Dear Abby, long-time ally and first-ever Straight for Equality award recipient, showed her support for the LGBT community in her column today.

A 16 year old in Louisiana wants to come out to her family and fears rejection from those closest to her. Dear Abby gives the advice that I hope all youth hear - practice caution if you fear your family will react badly to the news. While honesty and openness are very important to living a healthy life, LGBT youth who come out to their family before they are living independently are vulnerable, and can sometimes find themselves leaving their home - voluntarily or by force - if the rejection is extreme.

Thank you, Dear Abby, for always giving sound advice, especially to our LGBT youth.

Ryan's Hope

If any two people can truly know each other's hearts, Caitlin Ryan and Mary Griffith surely do.

Griffith, a California mother who raised her son Bobby in a devoutly religious household, became a most unlikely crusader for gay rights after Bobby committed suicide in the 1980s. After praying for her son, rejecting him out-of-hand and pushing him away because he was gay (and because she thought her faith required that she do so), Mary lost Bobby forever and began a remarkable journey that, in many ways, finally came full circle in just the past few weeks.

On January 24th, Lifetime television will bring Mary's story, based on the acclaimed novel Prayers for Bobby, to the small screen. And just weeks prior to the film's premiere, Dr. Ryan - a researcher based not far from Mary's suburban California home - released groundbreaking research showing that Bobby was never really alone. In fact, he had, unfortunately, far too much company.

Ryan, who heads up San Francisco State University's "Family Acceptance Project," released the first part of her new research on family acceptance and gay youth in this month's Journal of Pediatrics. And while, on the surface, her findings may seem overly logical, the story of Bobby Griffith shows us that for many families, there is still much to learn.

The research conducted by Ryan is chilling in its conclusions and unmistakable in its consequences. When families reject their lesbian, gay and bisexual children, it has a dramatic impact on the long-term health and well-being of those young people. Poor health, starkly higher rates of depression, an increased likelihood of drug use and, most disturbing, an undeniably greater risk of suicide are just a few of the side-effects of family rejection.

Misguided "prayers," Ryan found, can be very damaging things.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Join PFLAG & Sigourney Weaver in Los Angeles

David Permut, Daniel Sladek & Chris Taaffe
Executive Producers

Invite Los Angeles-Area PFLAG Supporters to a Special Screening Of

Sigourney Weaver

Academy Award nominee and Golden Globe winner Sigourney Weaver stars in this emotional true story about a 1970s religious, suburban housewife and mother who struggle to accept her gay teenage son. What happens to Bobby is tragic and causes Mary to question her faith; ultimately, this mother changes her views in ways that she never could have imagined.

Based on the landmark book Prayers for Bobby by Leroy Aarons.

Introductory Remarks By

American Jewish University President Dr. Robert Wexler
PFLAG National Executive Director Jody Huckaby
AJU Vice President and Dean, Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies, Rabbi Bradley S. Artson


Sigourney Weaver

Tuesday, January 13, 2009
7:00 pm

15600 Mulholland Drive
Bel-Air, CA 90077

(immediately east of the 405 Freeway)

Please RSVP by January 12th at (310) 440-1212

Jindal's Latest Attack on Louisiana's Families

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal is often cited as a rising star in Republican politics. One of the party's most visible state executives, he has worked hard to endear himself to the GOP faithful, and has been widely mentioned as a possible White House candidate in 2012. And, true to form for some of those who seek to carry the Republican mantle on a national ticket, he is already beginning to pander to the most extreme factions of his party and his state.

In December, Jindal announced the formation of the Louisiana Commission on Marriage and Family, billed as "an entity within the executive department that serves to propose programs, policies, incentives and curriculum regarding marriage and family by collecting and analyzing data on the social and personal effects of marriage and child-bearing within the state of Louisiana."

In other words, Jindal's Commission is going to be looking at - and making recommendations regarding - marriage and family issues within the state. And a quick look at some of those appointed by the Governor to serve on the panel leaves no doubt that, in the end, the line-up will do nothing more than promote an extreme, anti-gay agenda that sets back, blocks and battles any attempts to recognize or respect Louisiana's same-sex families.

Among those who have been appointed by Jindal to serve on the Commission are Tony Perkins (who hails from Baton Rouge), the president of the anti-gay advocacy group known as The Family Research Council . . . Gene Mills, executive director of the far-right Louisiana Family Forum . . . Mike Johnson, senior legal counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund . . . and numerous members of the clergy. All, Jindal has said, "have significant academic and/or professional expertise" on issues of marriage and family.

And each has a long history of spouting anti-gay rhetoric, too.

Continue reading this post at The Bilerico Project . . .

Preparing for Prayers

PFLAG is coming - with a little help from Sigourney Weaver - to a television screen near you.

Beginning this month, we're partnering with Lifetime Television, our PFLAG chapters, and stars from the upcoming film Prayers for Bobby on a number of public education events. Prayers, which debuts January 24 on Lifetime, tells the true story of Mary Griffith, the mother of a gay son, and her journey toward embracing the LGBT community following his tragic suicide. Based on the novel by Leroy Aarons, Prayers also highlights the important role PFLAG played in Mary's experience and empowers families to embrace their LGBT loved ones.

In the coming days, we'll be posting more information, right here, on upcoming PFLAG events related to Prayers, including media appearances by PFLAG spokespeople . . . official PFLAG viewing parties in cities across the country . . . and live public events featuring cast members from the film, including award-winning actress Sigourney Weaver, and PFLAG parents and staffers. And, you can log onto the official Prayers for Bobby website, at Lifetime TV, to take part in an ongoing discussion about the film . . . the book . . . and the powerful example of Mary Griffith's journey.

Then, tune in on January 24 - or join PFLAG at one of our official viewing parties - for this stunning and moving film, featuring a power-house performance by Weaver and an unforgettable script based on Aarons' groundbreaking novel.

Together, we'll use the power of Prayers, and the families of PFLAG, to change hearts and minds across the country.

- Jody M. Huckaby

Monday, January 5, 2009

DOMA's Author Says It's Time for Repeal

Former Congressman Bob Barr (pictured), who was also the 2008 Libertarian candidate for president, continues his evolution on LGBT equality in today's Los Angeles Times. Barr, who recently reversed his position on the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" ban, has again re-visited his past prejudices and come to the conclusion that the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) - which he authored during his time in the House - should be scrapped, too.

"In 1996, as a freshman member of the House of Representatives, I wrote the Defense of Marriage Act, better known by its shorthand acronym, DOMA, than its legal title," Barr writes in today's Times. "The law has been a flash-point for those arguing for or against same-sex marriage ever since President Clinton signed it into law. Even President-elect Barack Obama has grappled with its language, meaning and impact."

"I can sympathize with the incoming commander in chief," Barr says. "And, after long and careful consideration, I have come to agree with him that the law should be repealed."

"I've wrestled with this issue for the last several years and come to the conclusion that DOMA is not working out as planned," he says. "In testifying before Congress against a federal marriage amendment, and more recently while making my case to skeptical Libertarians as to why I was worthy of their support as their party's presidential nominee, I have concluded that DOMA is neither meeting the principles of federalism it was supposed to, nor is its impact limited to federal law."

"In 2006, when then-Sen. Obama voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment, he said, 'Decisions about marriage should be left to the states.' He was right then; and as I have come to realize, he is right now in concluding that DOMA has to go. If one truly believes in federalism and the primacy of state government over the federal, DOMA is simply incompatible with those notions."

That's welcome news, indeed. And while Barr has not endorsed marriage equality in today's op-ed, he's clearly on a journey, embracing the truly libertarian values of personal privacy and limited government intrusion into American's lives.

To read his full column in today's Times, click here.

Bush Steps Toward Equality

Yes you read the title correctly. On December 23rd President Bush delivered a holiday gift to lesbian and gay couples when he signed the Worker, Retiree and Employer Recovery Act of 2008. The new law makes it mandatory for businesses to roll over retirement benefits to a same-sex partner in the event of the employee’s death. Previously, employers could decline and surviving same-sex partners would have to pay tax on the inheritance of the deceased partner’s retirement savings. Legally married opposite-sex couples automatically avoid that tax penalty.

Many LGBT organizations, including PFLAG National, applauded this important step towards equality. The legislation ensures necessary protections for lesbian and gay couples when planning for retirement. Lesbian and gay couples experience many barriers during their golden years. One of the most ostensible barriers is the denial of Social Security spousal and survivor benefits. Thankfully, the President agreed that the tax code should not cut out our partners from their hard-earned retirement savings.

- J. Rhodes Perry

New Book Promises "Bulletproof Faith" for Gays and Lesbians Facing Religious Attacks

A refrain heard relentlessly by gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people of faith is: "God hates fags!" Whether it's hurled as a direct insult or stated more subtly in a "Love the sinner, hate the sin" theology, the message to LGBT ears is the same: "God hates you and so do we!"

"Gay and lesbian people are constantly under attack," said Candace Chellew-Hodge, the author of Bulletproof Faith: A Spiritual Survival Guide for Gay and Lesbian Christians. "We're unable to marry the person we love, and many support writing that discrimination into the U.S. Constitution. Churches continue to argue about our lives and many insist we must become something called, 'ex-gay.' We're tired of constantly being a target."

This trend against LGBT people isn't abating. Religious groups from around the nation used their considerable wealth to target the GLBT community by writing marriage discrimination into the state constitutions of California, Arizona and Florida in the last election. This sent the message that it's "gays vs. God" and that gay and lesbian people are disdained by God.

Even Archbishop Desmond Tutu noted in his endorsement of the book that, "Gay and lesbian Christians are constantly demoralized and told they are not children of God. Bulletproof Faith reassures gays and lesbians that God loves them just as they were created and teaches them how to stand strong, with compassion and gentleness, against those who condemn them."

Bulletproof Faith, published by Jossey-Bass, helps readers reclaim the spiritual self that criticism from society and religion has led them to give up. Instead of arguing over biblical texts, Bulletproof Faith helps LGBT people live authentically into their faith despite criticism.

Bulletproof Faith empowers readers to withstand even the most aggressive assaults without fear, doubt, or anger by providing:

- Solid, proven tactics that can be used successfully when faced with an attack
- Practical tools to discover one's "authentic self": the bulletproof part of each of us
- Guidance on how to turn attacks into opportunities for spiritual growth

Bulletproof Faith doesn't argue; instead Chellew-Hodge's approach - born out of 12 years of being on the frontlines in the controversies surrounding gay and Christian identity - teaches readers to draw on their own inner strength and to return abuse with the spiritual Aikido of gentleness, compassion, reverence - and strength.

Candace Chellew-Hodge is the associate pastor at Garden of Grace United Church of Christ in Columbia, SC and founder of the online magazine for LGBT Christians called Whosoever, at, which reaches nearly 1 million people a year. She is an award-winning former journalist with 25 years of experience including six years as a news writer, reporter and editor with CNN, and is a graduate of the Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta.

For more information and a free 25-page study guide for Bulletproof Faith, visit

A Christmas Memory

Bob Witeck, CEO of Witeck-Combs Communications (pictured), recently posted a holiday message at The Bilerico Project, highlighting his holiday visit visit with his partner's father. His post, "A Christmas Memory," about one dad's views on gay clergy and welcoming congregations, is excerpted here.

Some may recall Truman Capote's story by the same name, and his recollections of growing up in the south at Christmas during the depression. My story is a little different. In fact, it is a very brief story of a man and one of the most important pieces of his failing memory. It's a story that meant a great deal to me at Christmas time with family this year.

My partner and I have been together nearly 15 years. We are both close to his parents, Bob and Elizabeth (though we call her by her nickname, "Pud"), who are retired and live nearby Newport, Rhode Island. My "father-in-law" is a retired Naval submarine commander, and in fact, served as an officer in the 1950's when his sub, the Sargo, became only the second nuclear submarine to reach the North Pole.

As an Annapolis grad, Bob loves submarines and the Navy, and his decades-long career as a naval officer. But much much more, he loves his family, including his gay son, his lesbian daughter and their non-gay brother and his two grandsons. He simply gave everyone including me his unconditional love, respect, closeness and unique sense of humor.

Now that he has reached the age of 78, it gives us the chance to do more for him than he can do for us, including just spending some time together over the holidays. A couple days into our December visit, it occurred to me how much of his memory truly has faded. He briefly asked the whereabouts of a member of the family, wondering whether she already had left town - even though she had never come to join us in the first place.

One afternoon, nonetheless, I had the chance to take him out to fit him and to buy him a couple pairs of trousers and afterwards at lunch, to enjoy a hot cup of soup while we talked to the young mother in the next booth, and the tiny little girls accompanying her to find out whether they were naughty or nice. Each task comes a bit harder for him now, remembering how and when and why. Conversations are more halting, as he searches for words and answers before he fully expresses himself.

On our drive home together, however, he began sharing with me a rambling anecdote about Trinity Church, the historic old Episcopal church in Newport - where he had served for years as a member of its congregation as well as tour guide. He spoke enthusiastically and warmly about Paul, one of Trinity's deacons whom he felt was one of the "best" at church, and someone that he and Elizabeth had come to know and to like very much.

Continue reading 'A Christmas Memory' online at The Bilerico Project . . .