Bring friends, family to experience PFLAG
While preparing to report on a meeting to establish Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays in my small hometown, I wanted the perspective of a gay person from here who didn’t have a supportive family.
I contacted a young man whom I had learned of several years ago, whose parents all but disowned him after he came out to them. I didn’t know him, but his parents were dear friends of mine, so the situation saddened me.
I told the young man why I wanted to interview him. He was surprised. He told me I was wrong. His parents had struggled somewhat, he said, but the idea they rejected him couldn’t be further from the truth.
So imagine my excitement when I saw his mother at that PFLAG meeting. I rushed to her and told her how glad I was that she was there. I apologized for my former misunderstanding. We hugged. She cried. I cried with her. It was special.
Come to find out, her son had called her and told her about the meeting.
It was exactly what PFLAG’s Mountain West Region Director (and Salt Lake chapter co-president) Kathy Godwin said was the one thing she wanted LGBT people to know: “They need to know that we want them to bring their parents to a PFLAG meeting.”
LGBTs connect their loved ones to PFLAG, and in return PFLAG helps strengthen the connections and relationships between LGBTs and their loved ones.
One more experience suggests PFLAG’s ability to do that.
Bruce (not his real name) walked into the meeting, knowing no one — a gruff old-timer of the sort fairly common in Sanpete. I greeted him. I wanted to make sure he was there for PFLAG, so I asked, “You are here for —?”
“Anger management,” he replied.
I began asking people if there was an anger management class, but with no trace indicating he had been joking, he stopped me and said, “No. I’m in the right place. But it might just turn out to be anger management.”
I didn’t pursue the matter, but it was clear he was having a very difficult time with the idea of an LGBT person in his life, probably a child.
The meeting was beautiful, with an incredibly inspiring speech from a man, Jim Birrell, who had wrestled terribly with his faith, his god, and the nature of love while trying to understand the impossible fact of having a gay son.
His message was about the unconditional love that full acceptance of an LGBT relative or friend requires. Some excerpts included:
• “This is a talk I could not have listened to when we first faced the possibility that my son was gay.”
• “Having a gay child will demand that parents examine their inner lives.”
• “Seeking for God to change my son, God changed me.”
• “It was never the situation that was the problem for me, but my thoughts about the situation.”
• “The effort to save my son’s eternal soul was really an effort to save myself from limited beliefs.”
• “To be gay is to be courageous, and courage is an expression of love.”
• “Gays are suited to teach us so much about loving without conditions.”
At the end of the meeting, I found Bruce. Though I was apprehensive, I asked, “What did you think?”
“Well,” came his reply, still gruff but gentler than before, “I’m not angry anymore.”
Beautiful and priceless.
To my fellow LGBT-ites, I invite you to invite a loved one to a PFLAG meeting. If you can, attend it with them. PFLAG, my own limited observations have already shown, will change hearts, lives and relationships.