Holland/Lakeshore PFLAG Mom Mary DeRidder

Between Ourselves

1. Why did you decide to get involved in PFLAG? When was that?
We decided to begin PFLAG Holland/Lakeshore with five other couples here in Holland twelve years ago. Each family had a gay son or daughter. We had visited PFLAG Grand Rapids for several years and met other families that lived nearby. When Grace Episcopal Church heard that we wanted to form a PFLAG chapter, they offered us a meeting place and we knew we had a home for our PFLAG.

2. How did Holland Pride come about and why?
Our PFLAG chapter participated in West Michigan Pride for several years. Here in Holland we had pride events for the last eight years but primarily inside churches or a theater with speakers or films. The last two years we shared the pride event with a new LGBT group called Holland is Ready. Many young college students joined this past year and indicated in an evaluation that they wanted an outdoor pride event the next year.

3. Who are the parties most involved in planning it?
Three of us formally on the Holland is Ready board decided to form a pride board under the umbrella of our national PFLAG chapter. Jim Larkin was voted in as the chair of the committee. Eventually five other interested persons joined us.

4. Have you gone to any other prides and been inspired by anything specific they'd done?
Nothing specific except the West Michigan Pride committee met with Jim and myself in the fall to give us the paperwork we needed to get started.

5. Do you have any worries about the Holland event?
Only that people who come may be expecting a large number of vendors like other pride events in major cities and for our first year, we set a goal of 30 diverse booths and met that goal. We do have entertainment set up for the afternoon and evening that we are proud of. We do hope the weather cooperates! We already have 10 additional vendors that are interested in joining us next year. Our pride event would not be happening without the support of our premier sponsor, Herman Miller Inc. and permission from the city clerk, city manager, and the Holland police department to use Centennial Park.

6. Since being involved in PFLAG, have you noticed more positive reaction to LGBT people or negative?
PFLAG Holland/Lakeshore has made a positive difference in our community. We give out free resources to those to come to the meetings as well as pride events. We have a lending library with GLBT books and DVDs. We offer a support group and a monthly program. Over the years we have had over 300 people who have come to our meetings. We average 20 to 30 persons a meeting. At our last meeting we had three moms who have trans children looking for support and resources. One of our members grew up in Holland but didn't dare come out until she came out in New York where she had a partner for many years. Three years ago she came back to Holland to care for her dying mother and was amazed to find a PFLAG here in Holland. She is now our transgender coordinator and ads a special spark to our meetings.

7. How long have you lived in Holland, and where are you from?
I have lived in Holland for 16 years after marrying Dean De Ridder. I grew up in Lansing.

8. What is your day job?
I retired from being on staff at First United Methodist two years ago.

9. Are you involved in any other advocacy or community service (LGBT or otherwise)?
I am involved with Justice for our Neighbors as a co-coordinator. JFON is a faith-driven ministry, welcoming immigrants by providing high-quality immigration legal services, education and advocacy. I'm also on a bread team for Bread for the World, an advocacy group for people that are poor and hungry. I represent the bread team on the Ottawa County Food Council. I am a member of the Alliance for Cultural and Ethnic Harmony.

Holland Pride takes place June 29. Find out more at


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