ELIGHT! wants you to know about PFLAG. Originally created as a support group for parents and friends of lesbians and gays, its focus has broadened over the years as new needs were identified. Besides serving parents, families, and friends, PFLAG also invites gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (GLBTQ) people to join and participate. PFLAG is especially useful to young people dealing with the difficult issues of their emerging sexuality.
PFLAG has a national office in Washington, DC, that provides materials and support to its more than 475 local chapters throughout the US and Canada. PFLAG is the largest GLBTQ-related membership organization, boasting a membership of over 75,000 individuals!
Local PFLAG Chapters
Most people come to PFLAG local chapter meetings, which vary by locality. Most chapters meet at least once a month, and many also have social events between meetings. Some chapters are made up mostly of parents and families, and other chapters are mostly GLBTQ people. All welcome parents, families, friends, gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgender people, and those questioning their sexuality.
In all cases, the identity of those attending the meetings and the content that is discussed at meetings is kept confidential. Some members and guests may be in the closet for personal or professional reasons, and members respect their desire for confidentiality.
PFLAG meetings generally have time for discussion, either all together or in smaller groups, depending on the size and needs of the chapter. For example, some larger chapters might break into special interest groups during the discussion time. There might be a group for support, another specifically for youth, another that discusses education issues, etc. It all depends on the size and needs of the individual group.
Many chapters also have presentations at their meetings. Sometimes there are special guests, who share their experiences or knowledge in a specific area. Other times, a chapter member may lead a general discussion of some issue of interest to the group.
How PFLAG Chapters Serve Youth
PFLAG encourages GLBTQ youth to attend chapter meetings and take advantage of meetings, information, and support the chapters offer. PFLAG publishes a wealth of literature that can be useful to young people who are discovering their identity, and most chapters make that information available to those attending the meetings. That information is hard to get in many communities, but it is readily available from PFLAG.
Chapter meetings are also a great place to meet supportive people, which are very hard to find in some communities. You can walk into a meeting and meet other GLBTQ people and accepting and supportive parents, relatives, and friends of GLBTQ people. You can be yourself, without having to worry what people will think. You can ask questions, share your concerns, talk about things you may not be able to talk about anywhere else. Or you can just sit there and listen to the others. You won't be forced to participate, if you just want to take it all in.
Many youth who feel they cannot come out to their families find just what they need at PFLAG meetings. It is good to meet parents who are kind and supportive as we come to terms with our sexuality. They can fill a need that our own parents might not be able to fill. If you are thinking about coming out at home, they might be able to help you figure out the best way to do it.
Being a gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or questioning youth does not have to be lonely and frightening. The local PFLAG chapter is there for you. All you have to do is visit a meeting to find people who will accept you as just exactly the person you are.
PFLAG has a great website with information about the organization and its local chapters. There is lots of good stuff at the PFLAG website!
There are also two email listservs that you might find useful. They are not sponsored by PFLAG, but they both serve the mission of PFLAG. There are many PFLAG members subscribed to these listservs, including chapter members and members of the PFLAG national executive staff.
PFLAG-Talk is like an online PFLAG meeting that is always in session. Subscribers discuss issues of support in a warm, congenial atmosphere. People talk about all kinds of things on PFLAG-Talk. They share their concerns, they ask questions, and they discuss their experiences in a very supportive environment.
PFLAG-Discuss is more about issues of advocacy and education. Subscribers discuss chapter issues and topics that are too "hot" for PFLAG-Talk. Chapter members might discuss how to lead a particular type of discussion in their local chapter or how to better serve their members and guests. And they discuss political, religious, ethical, and other issues that are beyond the scope of PFLAG-Talk.
You Have A Home In PFLAG!
PFLAG is a very comfortable, supportive, and friendly organization. Sometimes life is tough, when you are different or when you have to deal with friends or family who are different. PFLAG can help! And PFLAG does help. It is a vital resource. It is a place where you can just be yourself. And we all need a place like that in our lives!
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