No More Suicides
This is Linda Gregory’s mantra. A mantra that pushed her to form our local chapter of PFLAG (originally standing for Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), one of only two chapters in the State of Delaware. It’s a mantra that keeps her going.
Linda’s journey to PFLAG isn’t particularly unique. One day her daughter came home and came out as a lesbian. Linda ruefully acknowledges she didn’t handle the revelation particularly well. She was not “okay.”
Fortunately for all of us, her impressively well-prepared daughter introduced her mother to PFLAG, a national organization which began in 1972 when (the world’s most woke Mom) Jeanne Manford marched with her son, Morty, in New York’s Christopher Street Liberation Day March—the precursor to today’s Pride parades.
After many gay and lesbian people ran up to Jeanne Manford during the parade and begged her to talk to their parents, she decided to begin a support group. The first formal meeting took place on March 11, 1973 at the Metropolitan-Duane Methodist Church in Greenwich Village (now the Church of the Village). Approximately 20 people attended.
From such humble roots, greatness began. By the time Linda met PFLAG, the organization was thriving around the country—but not in gay-friendly Rehoboth Beach. And as both the organization, and more importantly, her daughter, thrived, a little voice began chatting with Linda, telling her PFLAG was her destiny.
She kept pushing the voice urging her to start a chapter as far away and deep down as she could. Until one day, at a ladies’ group, she mentioned it; let it out of that tiny, cramped internal box; gave it a little voice; put it out there. And that was all it took.
Seven years ago, at the Epworth United Methodist Church, with help from a few friends, PFLAG Rehoboth Beach held its inaugural meeting. Five years ago, they moved their second-Tuesday-of-the-month (at 6 p.m.) meetings to the Lewes Public Library.
A quote from the Metro DC PFLAG says it all: “One day, society will accept all its members as equals, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Until that day there is PFLAG.”
And now, Linda’s passion to prevent suicides and to keep our local chapter thriving, needs your help.
So, upon reading this article, your first order of business should be to think if you know anyone who might benefit from a little support from this group and refer them. Whether you are, or know, the Parent, the Friend, the Family, or the Gay, Lesbian, Bi, Trans, or Questioning person working their way into an understanding of their sexuality, please direct them to PFLAG as a welcoming, supportive, confidential, resource.
Next, you can recommend PFLAG for presentations or question-and-answer sessions for audiences who need the education or support. If a school’s Gay-Straight Alliance needs PFLAG, PFLAG will come. If a Fortune 500 Company needs PFLAG, PFLAG will answer the call. This ties in with one of the “big needs” PFLAG Rehoboth has. They need to spread the word beyond Rehoboth, Lewes, and environs, and they would like your help.
There is only one other PFLAG chapter in our state—and it’s in Wilmington. Given our current political situation, the need is immense, and people don’t know where to turn. According to Linda, locally, publications such as Letters, The Cape Gazette, and Delaware Beach Life have been incredibly generous and supportive with their ink. Linda is looking for help with press and publicity in towns such as Georgetown, Millsboro, Ellendale, and Dover, and in newspapers on the western side of the state.
Finally, PFLAG needs our help showing up, not necessarily to the monthly meetings, but to events. As Linda says, “If we aren’t there, we can’t reach the people who need us most.” Many people get to know PFLAG at an event and ask a question or two “for a friend” before they can work up their courage to walk into a meeting. Simply put, there is not enough people-power to get everywhere PFLAG is invited. And if PFLAG isn’t there, the lost moment may be haunting.
Gay History Month Library Displays, PRIDE in Dover, CAMP Rehoboth’s Block Party, Women’s Fest, VegFest…it takes people to reach people. Even an hour at an event can make a difference. Volunteers are very welcome.
Young people are getting braver about who they are. They deserve our help with assuring parents have the tools they need to understand, love, and support them through their process. PFLAG members have actually gone to parent conferences to help out with issues in school—from lack of acceptance to outright bullying.
Back in the day, we all wanted Morty Manford’s Mom. Now, Linda Gregory is offering us all a moment to be Morty Manford’s Mom. We need to rise up and take it!