So it’s Pride month and if you take part in a Pride March or Festival you’ll probably see alot of the usual groups there. Dykes on Bikes, Drag Queens and of course PFLAG. After you’ve been to a few of these the groups can tend to blend together or lose their importance in one’s mind. But I saw a great video today (SEE BELOW) that reminded me of the strength of one of the oldest GLBT ally groups.
PFLAG, Parents, Family & Friends of Lesbians and Gays, is a group I’ve known about for years but this video just really brings their great work to life. This amazing video is just a conversation with a number of folks who came down to a workshop being run by the right-wing Christian "ex-Gay" group "Love Won Out." They didn’t come to protest. They came to serve as a witness to all those going in to the church, First Presbyterian Church of Orlando Florida (further proof that anti-Gay hate isn’t just in Evangelical Christian and Baptist churches but also a blight of once "mainline Protestant denominations). In the video they talk about why they’re there but also how they’re there to show the Gay people walking into the conference that parents can and do love their Gay kids. Sounds simple, but there are so many people who need that kind of visible support.
Rene Sanchez: "We are here to show the parents who are coming to the [ex-Gay] "Love Won Out" activity that attempting to change their children’s sexual orientation is not only unproductive but could be even dangerous. There’s no reason at all. We stand here as a role-model. There’s no reason at all to attempt to change our children’s sexual orientation. God gave them to us that way, we accept them that way and we love them unconditionally."
I know when my partner came out his mother got involved with PFLAG in her local town and it helped with his connecting with other parents trying to find a way to love their kids. The old saying I learned in counseling classes that "when one comes out of the closet, their family goes into the closet" and need help figuring it all out is important to remember. In this situation its so important to have peers that can help them understand their are loving and sane alternatives to the hateful, anti-Gay ignorance that’s perpetuated by the majority of religious institutions (and yes that’s is most definitely the understanding that the majority or religious groups peddle). PFLAG parents provide that needed alternative viewpoint:
Minerva Villafane: My name is Minerva V. Villafane and I’m here to support parents because I think they need a loving option to accept their children the way they are.
I have to say that the diversity of parents in the video is inspiring and while some of the segments are searing, it is lovely to see all these parents standing with their children. Some of these parents know the VERY HIGH costs of homophobia. Not only misery and self-hatred, but sometimes even death. Their witness is so important to ending this kind or insanity:
Olga Kennedy: My name is Olga Kennedy and I’m from Greenville, South Carolina. My son Sean was murdered last year in a hate crime. The person hated him so much even though he didn’t know him. So I go out and come to these things to let people know people don’t choose this lifestyle. God knows people before they are born and God is not wrong… These ministries do such damage to children. I have a stepson who has gone through this program and has suffered emotionally for years because of it.
I was in love with the video a few minutes in but found it got better as it continued. Good for them and good for their kids! Watch the whole video and get a glimpse at these strong loving allies standing and speaking at the front lines of the struggle for equality.
For more information on PFLAG, visit their website at www.pflag.org