Sunday, October 20, 2013

The PFLAGXpress: Lori, Day One

At  9:10 ,on a crisp autumn morning, I boarded an Amtrak train that pulled
out of Emery ville train station for point east. It was to be a three day trip across the heartland of America.  As a longtime San Francisco Bay Area resident many of the stations on this first day of the trip were familiar to me as convenient stops on way to a weekend of skiing, hiking or for trying my luck at a roulette wheel. However that was before my time as an
active PFLAG member and today's journey would be viewed through a different prism. In fact one might even call it a social experiment. The question was, how would people react to two “out” PFLAGers and where would that
interaction go?

As a conversation starter we wore our PFLAG buttons prominently and it worked like a charm. Our first encounter was at lunch when we sat down with
a father who was traveling with his 13 year old son.  “Oh,” he said pleasantly when we answered his query about our buttons. We stuck out. To our surprise, both Brandon and I balked at any further discussion about what PFLAG was about. Later we agreed that the boy's presence made us hesitant about launching into our elevator speech. Lesson learned: even PFLAGer's have to fight the ingrained societal message that parents have the right to control what their children should know about sexual
orientation.

Our second encounter was better, but the lady we spoke to said no more than
a “good for you” when we explained that we were going to a PFLAG convention. Undeterred, we pressed on and by dinner time we had settled into the routine of train travel and  we hit our stride. In the dining car, our companions were two gentlemen one of whom was politely interested but the second man turned out to be a kindred spirit. He was from Pittsburgh, dating a bisexual woman and had a trans niece to boot.

By night fall we reached Winnemucca and we knew that by morning we would be way outside the Bay Area Bubble. I wonder what we'll encounter tomorrow?


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