For parents of gay and lesbian children and adults who need help accepting that their offspring are different from how they imagined they would be, there’s an organization called Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. Since that’s a mouthful, most people just call it PFLAG.
Many gays and lesbians have never attended a local PFLAG meeting, however.
Sometimes that’s because their parents have either accepted or disowned them already — and there’s nothing more to do. Other times, it’s because they don’t know that gays and lesbians are as welcome at PFLAG meetings as their parents.
Here are four reasons a gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender person might want to attend a PFLAG meeting.
1. You can take your parents.
This, of course, is the most common reason for a gay or lesbian person to attend a PFLAG meeting. Mom or dad might not be willing to go alone, but they will sometimes go as a favor to you.
Some gay people have even tricked their uncertain parents into attending a meeting by telling them they were going somewhere else, but this is a dangerous and often counterproductive technique that could cause a big incident.
2. You can find the welcoming family you don’t have.
While parents who have only attended PFLAG a few times may not be sure yet what think about gays and lesbians, those who keep coming and those who are involved in chapter’s leadership are supportive and welcoming people.
One of the best reasons for a gay or lesbian person to visit a PFLAG meeting is to find the supportive and welcoming family they can’t find anywhere else.
3. The meetings are fun and interesting.
Although the format of the meetings vary by chapter, PFLAG chapters usually meet once a month, and these meetings usually include a fun and informative speaker as well as so-called “rap” groups — sessions where attendees meet to discuss issues in their families or in recent news.
Most chapters also offer refreshments, announcements and films at times. Attendance can vary from a handful of people to several dozen.
4. There will probably be more gays and lesbians there than you think.
Some gay and lesbian people mistakenly believe that PFLAG meetings are only for parents, but gays and lesbians often attend meetings to talk about their family situations, get coming out advice, materials and brochures and simply to enjoy the speakers or conversation.
They may even continue to come with their parents if they see that the organization is making a positive impact on their family.
In some chapters, gay and lesbian people hold leadership roles, serve on the board or participate in committees. While the level of participation varies, PFLAG chapters always welcome gay and lesbian involvement.
Find Out for Yourself
Finding out about your local PFLAG chapter is easy as calling them, emailing them or visiting a meeting. Details are available on the PFLAG national website, and some chapters have their own websites. Local gay and lesbian publications and websites may also have contact information. Chapters even sometimes advertise in daily newspapers or on billboards.
PFLAG exists to support the parents of gay and lesbian people as well as the gays and lesbians themselves. The only way to know what role the organization can provide in your life is to make contact and see for yourself what they do.