Washington, DC –
The national office of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) reported March 9 that it has received at least 75 inquiries about starting new chapters in communities across the country since Election Day 2008. The significant spike in requests about founding chapters follows passage of anti-equality ballot initiatives in California, Arkansas, Florida and Connecticut and the premiere of the films Milk and Prayers for Bobby, which portrayed the true story of Mary Griffith, a PFLAG mother’s journey from rejecting her gay son to becoming an advocate for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
The organization, which already boasts nearly 500 chapters and affiliates across the country, is working with local allies who have expressed interest in bringing PFLAG to their communities.
“If there is a silver lining to the set-back our families experienced on Election Day, it is that our allies in communities across the country have started to mobilize at the local level and work for change,” said Jody M. Huckaby, PFLAG’s executive director.
“From coast to coast, families have been inspired to organize because of issues like Proposition 8, and empowered by the example of heroes and heroines like Harvey Milk and Mary Griffith. New PFLAG chapters are forming in critically important districts and existing PFLAG chapters in many communities are reporting an increase in their membership. Today our families, allies and loved ones are organizing and pressing for change as they never have before.”
PFLAG says it has received inquiries about starting new chapters in states including Mississippi, Alabama, Ohio, Florida, California, Utah, Texas and Idaho among others.
In Texas, a half-dozen people have expressed an interest in organizing a local PFLAG presence and at least four inquiries have come from California, where many community leaders are working to rally allies in the wake of Proposition 8’s passage. The national office has also heard from organizers in Tennessee, Missouri, South Dakota, New York and New Jersey.
In Indiana, local allies have organized a new PFLAG chapter in Terre Haute. Writing in the March 9 Terre Haute Star-Tribune, columnist Stephanie Salter praised the new chapter, noting that, “the organization is based on personal relationships – familial, collegial, among friends. It is always the personal level at which the most effective consciousness raising occurs.” Chapter organizers told Salter they were inspired to bring PFLAG to Terre Haute after viewing Prayers for Bobby, the film based on the story of Griffith and seeing the change in their own families.
“When I saw that change in my mother, I thought, ‘This is important,'” David Turner told the paper. “I’ve been out for 11 or 12 years, but I was not necessarily that active. What was I doing?”
Huckaby says the new chapters underscore the fact that, even today, PFLAG is a critical part of communities across the country.
“As President Obama has so often reminded us, change doesn’t come to Washington, it comes from Washington,” Huckaby said. “That change in our culture, our communities and our country begins with local PFLAG chapters, and our national office is working hard to make sure that everyone who wants to bring PFLAG to their community has the resources and support to do so.”
Washington, DC –