Welcome to an organization where everyone has a home. PFLAG (pronounced :”P-Flag”) is a worldwide, non-profit, volunteer and community-based organization of parents, family and friends of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgendered persons. PFLAG began in 1972, when one mother marched in the gay pride parade in New York supporting her gay son. Jeanne Manford carried a placard that said, “Parents of Gays: Unite in Support for our Children.” Our journey began there.
Keeping Families Together
“Desperate, devastated and dysfunctional would be the most accurate descriptors of us as parents following the announcement from our 28 year old son that he, in fact, was gay … As parents we felt alone, terribly alone.”
Many parents aren’t prepared for the words, “Mom, Dad. I’m gay.” Others aren’t prepared to find out indirectly, whether from a social networking site, a school counselor,or a neighbor, that their child may be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender(LGBT). If you’re like some parents, your first reaction is “How will I ever handle this?” For others, the reaction may sound more
like, “Now that I know, what I can do to support my child?”
Whatever your reaction, PFLAG is here to provide the information you need to understand your reaction to this news, to understand your child’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity, and to respond in a way that is supportive. Our members are parents, families and friends of LGBT people — and LGBT people themselves — in every state in the country, representing a wide variety of political, religious, and cultural perspectives. We have been through much of what you are now feeling.
Supporting True ‘Family Values’
“For me, it was my son saying to me, ‘Dad, I’m the same person I was before.’ Now it’s been six months, and I realize even more that really, nothing has changed in his life. It was my perception of him that changed.”
We think we know and understand our children from the day they are born, so much so that many of us are convinced we even know what’s going on inside their heads. So when a child announces “I’m gay,” and we hadn’t a clue – or we knew but denied it to
ourselves – it can make us feel like we don’t know who our child is or who they have become.
But your child coming out doesn’t have to mean the end of your dreams for your child – just a change in what they look like. You can still have a close, loving relationship with him or her. In fact, your relationship may be even stronger now, because you know more about him or her than you did before.
Knowledge is Power
“It’s really important to talk about it, to know that you’re not alone, that there are other parents who have had this experience and are dealing with it in a positive way. And the benefit is that you establish a good relationship with your child. Parents want to parent. They don’t, generally speaking, want to be isolated from their kid.”
When your child first comes out, it can feel like you will never think about anything else. His or her LGBT identity will consume your thoughts forever. But as the newness of this revelation passes, you will begin to think about other things and start to move forward. You have taken the first step in dealing with this news – finding this website. There are other things you can do to help address this issue and the feelings you have:
- Attend a PFLAG meeting – At a PFLAG meeting you will meet people who have stories like yours. They may have gone through what you are going through and they are ready to talk to you about it and to listen.
- Read our brochures & publications – Metro DC PFLAG has additional resources on specific issues related to your child coming out including Faith in Our Families, which addresses reconciling your child’s sexual orientation or gender identity with your faith, and Welcoming Our Trans Family and Friends, a guide for parents and friends of transgender or gender nonconforming youth or adults.
- Research – There is a tremendous amount of information about coming out,the LGBT community, parents with LGBT youth and adult children, and anything else you might want to know.
- Above all – love your child, parent, grandchild, friend or family member unconditionally.