Last night I attended my first PFLAG Akron meeting. My friend Joe and his mother Jean had asked me numerous times to go. I am so involved in other GLBT organizations and had not wanted to become involved in yet another group. Last evening was open on my calendar, and I was open to a new experience. I am so glad that I attended the meeting. It is a wonderful group of folks.
PFLAG Akron exemplifies what unconditional love, acceptance and caring for family, friends and others means. The meeting had a variety people including a large number of parents with GLBT children. The meeting started with everyone sharing something about them selves. The stories of the parents were particularly moving. Many had children who came out 20+ years ago. These parents still come to tell their stories and help those just now starting on their journey.
Stories of intolerance and injustice are common in the GLBT world. One mother’s story of her son hanging himself as an attempt at suicide and subsequently recovering after a long hospital stay was especially personal and eye opening. The discussion for the night was bullying in schools, particularly GLBT children. It is a sad reminder that this type of intolerance begins at a young age and is fostered many times by family and/or school officials. Why haven’t these people learned from Columbine and Virginia Tech?
At this meeting I witnessed the true mission of PFLAG. A teenage lesbian and her mother attended the meeting for the first time. They were seeking answers and support. I watched as many of these parents shared their stories and experiences. As the evening progressed, this mother daughter combination became more at ease. It opened my eyes. Here was a 15 year old lesbian who is out to her family with the family struggling to accept and do the right thing for her. It’s so good to see this open acceptance and confidence of oneself as a gay person supported by her family. Things have definitely changed in the almost 30 years that I have been out. PFLAG deserves a round of applause for their leadership and continued persistence for justice and love of GLBT children and families.