The Rebranding of PFLAG (and how it affects us)

Last week, not only did PFLAG National swear in a new Board President (the dedicated Jean Hodges— welcome!!) but an announcement has also been made regarding the “change” to PFLAG’s official name. When the organization was founded by Jeanne Manford in 1972, its name was created as an acronym for “Parents and Friends of Lesbians And Gays”. A trans-inclusive stance was officially adopted in 1998, and the name will now reflect that. For the sake of historical importance and identity, we will still be called PFLAG, there will no longer be a definition attached that excludes a particular group of the LGBTQ community.

Read the full article by The Blade here.

Welcome to the NEW PFLAG!

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Special Presenter at Spokane PFLAG in September!

For the month of September, our big sister chapter over in Spokane will be discussing the topic of Advocacy in Healthcare as it pertains to the LGBT community. This is a very important topic– I recently attended a meeting of the Houston, TX chapter of PFLAG. As you may know, Houston became the largest city to pass a blanket non-discrimination ordinance, locally known as HERO. The panel of speakers for the first month of fall were four transgender individuals– three trans-women and one trans-man. The man described an incident wherein he had to go to the emergency room to receive care for kidney stones. His outward appearance being male, the healthcare providers were shocked to see internal female reproductive organs on the scan of his abdomen. The physician actually audibly scoffed and refused to treat this man. Somehow, the nurse was able to get him medication to ease his pain, but the fear of ever returning to any doctor’s office remains.

Press Release from Spokane PFLAG:

On Tuesday, September 16, 2014, PFLAG Spokane is pleased to invite the community to a public discussion about how local citizens can educate and advocate in effective ways regarding access to health care for all families and individuals. This facilitated conversation will take place from 7pm to 8:30pm at Bethany Presbyterian Church, 2607 S Ray St.
The evening will start with a short film about the impact of mergers at the National level, a short presentation on the status in Washington State and specific concerns for the LGBT community and their friends and family members. The final part of the evening will involve specific possibilities for activism and advocacy at the local level- making sure that all voices are heard as important health decisions and access to care are being made.

Kathy Reim is the facilitator. She is the former Regional Director for PFLAG in the Pacific Northwest and has a long history as an activist and educator on behalf of the gay community, women, and older people. She also serves on the board for Mount Baker Planned Parenthood and the Pride Foundation.

She lives with her husband, daughter and her daughter’s wife in rural Skagit County.

Check out the details on the Facebook event page here.

spokane pflag september

LGBTQ+ 101

We’re shaking up the meeting a little bit next month and planning a fun educational session! Get ready to learn a little something. You don’t want to miss it as we explore the myths and stereotypes that have plagued the LGBT community for decades in the form of a game of “Mingle”!

august meeting flyer jpg REDO

For now, here are some resources for you to brush up on our topic:

UCLA – LGBTQ+ Terminology

University of Michigan – Lesbian History: Cultural Issues

Huffington Post – Gay Men Stereotypes That Need To Be Challenged

ACLU – Article on Transgender Discrimination

Nine Anti-Trans Slurs to Avoid

“WOMEN in English” – artist, Carol Rossetti

Carol Rossetti is a graphic artist from Brazil who has begun sharing her empowering illustrations on Facebook. Since uploading them to an album on the popular social media site, Rossetti has received gratification and praise from people around the world. Here are some of her beautiful images that are particularly relevant to PFLAG:

image credit: Carol Rossetti

image credit: Carol Rossetti Designs

image credit: Carol Rossetti

image credit: Carol Rossetti Designs

image credit: Carol Rossetti

image credit: Carol Rossetti Designs

I think these and the rest of Rossetti’s portfolio are absolutely gorgeous and seriously liberating.

Straight Until Proven Gay

(Disclaimer: Permission has been obtained to publish this article from all parties involved. All contents herein remain under the ownership of the original writer.)

 Straight Until Proven Gay

by Jamie Sebby

When I was thirteen or so, I tried to tell something to my mom. We were driving home, and I remember the pit in my stomach as I realized that there would never really be a perfect time to say what I wanted to say. I can still see the trees lining the Garden State Parkway, blurring as we drove past. There was no way out.

In the most high school of phrases, I started, “Mom, I think I like two people, at the same time.” She nodded her head, the wheels in her head turning in a predictable direction: how to tell her daughter it’s understandable to have a crush on more than one boy at this age. “Oh yeah? Who?”

I swallowed the lump in my throat. Just rip off the Band Aid.

“Evan,” I said. “And Heather.”

It took her a millisecond to process. She had always known I was different. I think she had held on to the hope that it was something else, anything but this.

“No,” she countered, “You’re not gay. Honey, I don’t have a problem with gay people, but not you.”

It was then that I began to take issue with statements like that. Statements that were so contradictory, they were hurtful. What would be the problem with me being gay if she legitimately “had no problem with gay people”?

The specific situation is moot at this point. I dropped it, and when I kissed Heather and Kat and Julie throughout my years of high school, I did it without telling her. Through college, I identified as bisexual. However, I dated men exclusively. (Two, specifically—one of whom is now my husband, so the issue of my sexuality is not important. I’m Mattsexual.) Even though I had a boyfriend, I joined BGLAD (Bisexuals, Gays, Lesbians and Allies for Diversity) at Boise State, proclaiming my membership of the “B” initial of the acronym.

"I'm A Straight Ally Because... I want my children to be able to live in a society that is truly equal."

“I’m A Straight Ally Because… I want my children to be able to live in a society that is truly equal.”

I know now that the “A” initial was equally, if not more relevant to me. I thought my involvement in LGBT activism was made more understandable, more potent by the fact that I was “one of them”. But just saying I’m part of a community, does not truly make me a part of it. Now, as an ally I see what I can truly accomplish when I apply myself to this cause. Not as one of the victims, but as an advocate for those who were born a specific way. I was born a cisgender, heterosexual (basically, despite a few stolen kisses in high school), white woman. It is my duty to use my place of cultural privilege to help those who are without.

People have to swallow a terrible fear of backlash in order to be true themselves and their loved ones. There are so many reasons to embrace the movement for equality. Listing them all would take hours. For my part, I want my children to grow up in the generation where people are not “straight until proven gay”. I want my children, and all people, to be able to embrace who they are with ease and joy, rather than the pain and adversity of today’s society.

Jamie and daughter, Auri at a PFLAG children's event

Jamie and daughter, Auri at a PFLAG children’s event

A lot of good points have been made for the difficulties of “coming out” as a straight ally to the LGBT community. As for my part with my family, they know what I do; they know what causes I proudly and loudly stand up to support. At this point, it’s surprising to them if I don’t have something to say about a particular issue. Their views landing somewhere between conservative and ambivalent, I am the black sheep. Every family needs one, and I belong to them.

 

God Is Great And Annie Is Awesome

(Disclaimer: Permission has been obtained to publish this article from all parties involved. All contents herein remain under the ownership of the original writer.)

Vanessa and her daughter, Annie

Vanessa and her daughter, Annie

God Is Great and Annie Is Awesome

by Vanessa, her mom

 

Born this way? Yes, I’m sure, sure, sure she was born this way. I knew it, felt it, sensed it when they put her in my arms in the hospital. I knew she was different. Of course, different is a relative term. I mean she was different than me– a controlled, sensible, follow-the-rules-at-all-costs and do what “they” expect type of human. She was born a freedom-seeking, do the opposite of what “they” expect kind of person. But not necessarily to ruffle feathers– simply because the opposite of the norm expresses exactly what’s inside of her.

annie 4

Annie- born a freedom-seeking, opposite of what “they” expect kinda girl!

Ya, ya, we’re all special, but she makes ‘special’ seem so… ordinary. Half a dozen times in her 10 years, I have heard the same comment from grown women: “I want to be Annie when I grow up!” I suspect it’s her style, her views on life, her desire and ability to connect with people of every age. Her perceptiveness, her charm, her humor, her confidence are what make her an unassuming role model. Words are hard to find to fully capture the richness of character she has been granted.

She has changed me deeply with the wide and explosive array of color she has brought into my basic, black and white life. All the colors of Manic Panic in her hair, brightest of 1985 fluorescents in her outfits, every color of the palette shining through from her electric energy… now, folded into the mix of color and light: the rainbow of course, the gay pride rainbow!

 

Annie's Electric Energy!

Annie’s Electric Energy!

In May, she came out. I asked. She told. She cried. I hugged her with the tightest grip of love and joy and utter relief that she would not have to be the only one to know anymore, not for one more minute. Not for one more lonely, scared, shameful minute would she be alone in this. I eschewed her terror about going to Hell and what she thought the Bible said about homosexuality. “The BIBLE??!! Oh honey, it’s all about love and our unconditional, loving, huge God made you exactly the way you are, in all the ways that you are. He loves you desperately and remember, sweetie, fear and shame are NOT from God. God’s on our side, as always.”

 “God is on our side, as always.”

One of my first motherly responses was to assume a protective, defensive posture against the world at large. I thought, as people learn about Annie’s sexuality, we will simply and surgically separate the men from the mice, no second chances. You’re in the “Annie Is Awesome Club” or you’re dead to us. Then, after a day of that toxic mind set, I started to see the similarity of that line of thought with that which fosters homophobia and intolerance. Back to that ‘love’ thing. I will choose love and acceptance of our community, wherever each individual stands on the issue, I decided. And now I stand firm on that. As much as anyone’s “pray the gay away” tactics won’t be necessary, I will not need to pray in a condescending manner for those people who don’t turn in their “Annie Is Awesome” membership form for immediate approval.

PFLAG meetings: check! Gay Pride Parade: check! LGBT Gay Pride Exhibit: check! Even a Rainbow-themed Christian Fish Bumper Sticker!

LOVE ONE ANOTHER (photo credit: newegg.com)

LOVE ONE ANOTHER
(photo credit: newegg.com)

As we identify with and choose our Christian faith as a way to get through and beyond this life on earth, I recently thought about the rainbow that God created as a sign to His people. It says in Genesis, “Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.” I know it’s about God not sending another flood, but now, when I read that and reflect, all I can dwell on is that phrase “creatures of every kind.” Yes!!! An everlasting covenant between God and EVERY KIND OF CREATURE, EVERY KIND OF PERSON, EVERY KIND OF GIRL, EVERY KIND OF BOY. Lesbian, gay, transgender, queer, questioning and everything in between. EVERY!

Thank you, PFLAG CDA, for providing us a community of love, acceptance, pride and support. Right now, it appears the world is set up for people coming out in their teens or later, not when they’re 10! In all my research, in Arizona and in Idaho, only PFLAG has been able and equipped to welcome the youngest of the gays. Our whole family thanks you.

 

Our whole family thanks you!!

Our whole family thanks you!!

Safe In My Hands (new Allstate campaign)

We’re all familiar with the personal property insurance company, Allstate and the deep-voiced African American spokesperson, Dennis Haysbert. Well, Allstate has a new campaign in honor of Pride Month.

Singer/songwriter, Eli Leib, has offered his talents to provide the music for the new commercial. Watch it here:

It’s very sweet. You can download the song for free here.

In addition to providing services tailored specifically to the needs of LGBT domestic partnerships, they are running some hashtag activism, much like our own Straight For Equality photo drive (more on that here). Go here and upload a photo of you and your loved one #outholdinghands.

“Being visible should never leave you feeling vulnerable… everyone deserves to be in good hands.”

The 2014 LGBT Pride Exhibit

As many of you know, the local Human Rights Education Institute has been a champion of supporting equality and using trials of the past to create a well-informed future generation. For the first year, during the month of June, HREI has asked for an installation celebrating the history of Pride and the LGBT movement. A rag tag group of a half dozen local LGBT rights activists embarked on this intrepid journey with less than a month to plan.

In short, the result is pretty phenomenal. Wading through a century (and even a little beyond) of oppression and uprising, the culmination of this project saturates a quarter of the display room. Images, stories, memoirs and marches act as guides through the transition from a closeted, hidden, tormented group into an out and proud army clashing with stereotypes and demanding equality.

There will be a reception for the opening of the exhibit on Friday from 5-7PM.

HREI pride history exhibit flyer jpeg

The Human Rights Education Institute is located at 414 Mullan Rd in Coeur d’Alene.

This exhibit was made possible by the partnership of:

The Coeur d’Alene Center for Gender and Sexual Diversity

PFLAG Coeur d’Alene

The Gender and Sexuality Alliance of North Idaho College

with

The Human Rights Education Institute

and

The Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations

Oh, Idaho, oh, Idaho

Jamie Isn't Crazy

blue-girl

In case you haven’t guessed it, I live in Idaho. Widely recognized as one of the most conservative, government-hatin’, proudly shit-kickin’-est states in the Union, it should also be clear to you that one of these things (that would be me) is not like the other; one of these things just doesn’t belong. I have found my niche, however, in this, the nearly reddest of places in the loudmouth liberal grassroots minority.

In working with violence prevention and gay rights movements in the area, I have found a calling. With them, I cheered a hearty cry when an Idaho judge struck down the constitutional amendment defining marriage as nonsense on Tuesday, effectively allowing same-sex couples to marry and be protected by nearly 1000 federal rights taken for granted by heterosexual couples. Until Thursday when a three-judge panel of nerds from the 9th District Court decided to temporarily grant Governor…

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History: Made

Tonight, we received amazing news: an Idaho judge has struck down the 2006 amendment to the state’s constitution banning same-sex marriage. This means that, as early as Friday, clerks will begin issuing marriage licenses to every.damn.couple that walks in the door.

Incredible.

Momentous.

Unbelievable.

Read all about it here or here.

Send Judge Candy Dale a “thank you” card here.

idaho freedom to marryI’m so overwhelmed right now, I can barely form a coherent thought about this. I just want to hug everyone I see and hope balloons will start falling from the sky!!

Idaho, we did it!!!