PFLAG Rehoboth Needs You!
I vividly recall my very first experience with PFLAG, back in 1990. I was editing a newspaper and on layout day we traveled to Silver Spring, MD to “paste-up” the paper.
It was a few years yet before desktop publishing made my job cleaner and easier—we would lay out the paper on long rows of slanted work tables, using rulers and razor blades to cut out strips of copy and photos then paste them into place with hot wax. It was messy and fun.
Dozens of publications, from high school newspapers to association newsletters and weekly community newspapers like mine, shared the facility. Often, I’d lay out my newspaper opposite a gentleman named Bob Bernstein who was putting together the fledgling PFLAG newsletter. We could see each other over the slant boards and chat while we worked.
I believe that Bob started the DC chapter to support his lesbian daughter. He was quite a guy. I had been dealing with coming out to my own father at the time and I marveled at how supportive Bob was, for his own family and all the other families he was determined to help understand their gay children, siblings, or friends. While my father got there eventually and became quite an equality advocate, in 1990, Bob was way out front in the fight.
One day, when a holiday caused a shift in the production facility’s usual schedule. I was on one side of the room, industriously cutting and pasting, while Bob and PFLAG were shifted to the other side.
Bob caught my eye and I wandered over to look at what turned out to be dueling publications. Bob was peering over his layout, where the headline read “Accepting and understanding your gay children,” while a conservative religious organization pasted together a newsletter calling for loud protests against AIDS funding and the dangerous homosexual agenda.
Bob and I tried to engage the enemy in a reasonable discussion but it turned out to be a short, ugly spate of words with no winners. For the rest of the day we kept our heads down and a demilitarized zone up between warring factions.
Flash forward to now. As a direct descendant of that early, successful PFLAG organization, and much work nationally and in cities all across the country, PFLAG has come back to Rehoboth Beach. I had the privilege of attending their October monthly meeting and learned a lot.
First, under the leadership of Linda Gregory, parent of a lesbian daughter, there are local parents and friends of the gay community attending these meetings and standing ready to help anyone needing support with LGBT issues. Like the PFLAG motto says, “One day, society will accept all its members as equals, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Until that day there is PFLAG.”
Our local group, like the national organization, has a single mission—to be a support system made up of parents, families, and friends of lesbians and gays to promote the equality and well-being of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered persons, their families and friends.
But the heady mission statement certainly doesn’t mean that meetings aren’t fun. With projects like hosting a booth at Pride, planning to march in upcoming local parades and being out and proud as parents, friends, and siblings, this group is energetic and in search of unique ways to get their message out.
I was thrilled and honored to be asked to attend their last meeting. While I don’t think of myself as a traditional activist, I have been known to throw some verbal bombs across the bow in search of equality.
I was invited to read some of my columns that spoke to equality issues and talk a little bit about my experience as a lesbian writer. We laughed a lot, had a serious discussion or two, and talked about how to swell the ranks of the Rehoboth PFLAG organization.
I told the group one of my favorite things about having published my books. It’s the letters I have gotten, several of them, from around the country, with readers telling me they had or were going to purchase my books for their parents, so Mom and Dad could see that lesbians could have fun and rewarding lives. Wow. I cannot tell you how moving it was to get the first letter like that. Also the second, third, and each one after. Entertaining people with my stories is great; doing something to make communication easier for LGBT people makes it mean so very much.
So here I am, getting the word out for PFLAG. The group meets at Epworth Church on the first Sunday of each month from 4-6 p.m. If you want to help provide support to LGBT people coming out or help their parents, siblings, or friends become comfortable with their gay family members, here’s your chance. Just show up. Or contact Linda at firstname.lastname@example.org to ask how you can get involved.
As our meeting ended, folks talked about gay people having to “come out” in dozens of ways every day—something straight people never think about.
I told the group that I came out of a restaurant the night before and it was pouring down rain. A woman huddled with me under the awning saw her husband pull the car up, jump out with an umbrella and come to fetch her.
“Oh, here’s my husband, prince charming,” she exclaimed.
Just then, Bonnie pulled up, leapt from the car, opened her umbrella and came to get me.
“Oh,” I exclaimed, “here’s my wife, princess charming, coming to get me.”
The woman stared at me, then Bonnie, looked a little quizzical, then got it. And smiled.
That’s my idea of a good coming out story and the kind we need to repeat, over and over. And if you join with PFLAG, we can pool our resources and keep making it happen.