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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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

PRIDE and Fathers

What a crazy amazing weekend!!

pride 2014 logo 2-1 jpegPFLAG Coeur d’Alene had the honor of marching in the 23rd annual Pride Parade with Spokane PFLAG, and it was a wonderful, colorful day full of laughter, hugs, love and community. While some amateur WBC wannabees paced in their square, sequestered off with yellow caution tape, right at the entrance to the park, throngs of people blocked them with both their bodies and their cheers as floats of proud groups walked past. They waved their message of hate, and we waved our messages of love and family, and we were the vast majority. Even though the clouds loomed threateningly above, nothing could rain on this parade!

WE ARE FAMILY!!

WE ARE FAMILY!! (photo credit: Juli Stratton)

 

PFLAG showed up strong with nearly two dozen marchers– parents, friends, advocates, couples, familiar faces, newcomers, children, a dog and even some supporters from the Unitarian Universalist Church of North Idaho. There is nothing like the feeling of belonging to something great, something meaningful. The parade route covered several blocks of downtown Spokane and there was not a space on the sidewalk where no one stood watching. The best was when a marcher would recognize someone from the crowd and they would run up to hug them, grateful for being surrounded by support and joy. A cacophony of “I love you!” and “We are family!!” and “Out and proud!!” drowned out the hateful amplified voices as we turned the corner to end the parade and enter the Rainbow Festival.

A heartfelt thanks to Spokane PFLAG for inviting us to partner with you in this special celebration!! It was certainly a memorable event.

pflag dad

(photo credit: PFLAG National)

And we also need to thank the fathers. All you dads out there who love your children unconditionally, who are raising your children in an adverse society. Those fathers that nurture us, that worry for us and that sit up nights with us while we talk it out. Whether you’re just beginning this crazy journey of child-raising or if you’re a seasoned professional who has been there through the trials and triumphs– WE THANK YOU! If you were there for us, thank you for listening, for understanding, for being patient.

happy father's day

(photo credit: Human Rights Campaign)

 

 

Straight 4 Equality

Straight For Equality is a subset of PFLAG National which focuses specifically on what straight allies who may not necessarily have any other ties to the LGBT community can do. If you’re wondering what you can do to help, maybe give their website a visit. There is an online pledge you can sign to promise to stand up against bullies and to educate others on proper terminology. You can check out the “Ally Spectrum” or get some training. We over at PFLAG Coeur d’Alene are participating in some online activism– putting a face on those who are allies and those who need allies. GAY RIGHTS ARE HUMAN RIGHTS.

Here is the start:

Christine Juli Mandy MoePatrick

This project will be ongoing throughout June with a focus after July’s meeting, which deals specifically with the ideas of allyship.

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

Marriage Equality Moves Forward

In the last week, we have seen monumental progress for marriage equality in our country. We have celebrated (and backtracked) in Idaho; we have cheered wholeheartedly for Oregon. And, just today, we welcomed Pennsylvania to the list of states that will officially recognize the marriages of same-sex couples. Congrats to all!

Since the United States Supreme Court struck down a critical section of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in June of last year, Pennsylvania’s Judge Jones makes the eleventh federal judge to nullify a state statute restricting gay marriage as unconstitutional.  In eighteen states, same-sex couples now have the freedom to marry.

(except imagine Pennsylvania is a beautiful dark green)

(except imagine Pennsylvania is a beautiful dark green)

If we keep going at this rate, the other half of the country will be on board by the end of the summer! Only four states have bans that are not currently being challenged in court.

No Rational Reason to Ban Same-Sex Marriage

On Friday, an Arkansas judge struck down the state’s 2004 state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage stating “This is an unconstitutional attempt to narrow the definition of equality. The exclusion of a minority for no rational reason is a dangerous precedent.” This makes Arkansas the 18th state in the Union to begin issuing marriage licenses to gay people. Judge Piazza of Pulaski County in Arkansas cited the 1967 decision to repeal laws which up until that point prohibited interracial marriage in his decision.

interracial marriage protestArkansas has become the first state in the Bible Belt to legalize marriage equality, which is huge.

As many of you already know, we are awaiting news on oral arguments heard on May 5th by the Federal Court in Idaho to decide the constitutionality of our own state’s 2006 amendment.

Learn more about marriage equality battles by state here.

Come on, Idaho!!

rainbow idaho

 

Mother’s Perspectives: Part Two

Once again, thank you to the speakers who, on Tuesday, decided to share with us their experiences. From what I could tell based on the conversation that followed, there was a great deal of takeaway from these two families’ stories.

Part Two: Verna and Josh

“I taught Josh when we was younger, and he’s teaching me now.”

Josh is twenty years old, and he came out to his mother, Verna, two years ago. Verna, having been brought up in the same generation as Susan, faced the same situation in a very different time.

She said she had an idea about Josh’s sexuality when he was as young as three. “If any one of my four boys is gay, it’s Joshua,” she retells this thought jokingly.

But she opened her story, not with the distress of Josh’s coming out to her, but with the unconditional love she felt then and still feels now for him and all of her children. She strives to teach them to be strong, knowing they (especially her second son) will face adversity. She taught them to take others’ opinions with a grain of salt. It is within your own self and the people that love you that you should find comfort.

One day, Josh called his mom, and she could tell he was nervous. She could tell he had something big to tell her, and it was tough for him.

“Mom, I’m gay.”

“And…? I know Josh; I’ve always known.”

And the simplicity of realizing that maybe his identity was not as secretive as he had thought has forged an even stronger bond between mother and son. She never pushed him; she never even asked him. It was his story to tell. When asked a direct question, Verna’s advice, based upon her own experience was: wait for them to tell you. Even if you have an idea and you want to test the waters, be vague, generic and open-ended. Don’t make them feel pressured to tell something they’re not ready to tell yet. They’ve got to come to terms with it themselves before they can trust others.

For a time, after that confirming conversation, Verna felt legitimate fear for her child. As a Catholic, she honestly believed that, as a gay man, Josh could not go to heaven. Reconciling her feelings for her son and the knowledge that this is something with which he was born, with the belief system of the Catholic church has been a struggle. From the beginning, Verna told Josh to never “lose his faith in God.”

Josh is adamant that he owes all his success to the encouragement from his mother. As of next weekend, Joshua will be a college graduate, having served on the North Idaho College student senate body (ASNIC), as President for the Gender and Sexuality Alliance and as Treasurer for the NIC Signers’ Club.

Verna said of Josh’s accomplishments, “I couldn’t be more proud– not because he’s gay, but because he’s my son.”

josh and verna

Josh and his mom, Verna

josh swan 2

This award was presented to the North Idaho College Footsteps Committee by the Task Force On Human Relations for their work in diversity and human rights.

josh swan

Josh (center) and his siblings

May is National Foster Care Month!

Did you know that there are 400,000 children currently in the United States foster care system, 100,000 of whom still need to find adoptive homes? According to data compiled by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) more children more gay couples are raising families than ever before, through adoption, surrogacy, and artificial insemination. However, same-sex couples still face discriminatory legal barriers in the effort to bring up children.

allies for adoption

An article in the New York Times in June 2011 posits that a large portion of the legal hurdles same-sex couples face when raising children stems from the fact that marriage is prohibited to these couples in two-thirds of the nation’s states. Only two states (Utah and Mississippi) explicitly bar gay and lesbian couples from adopting. But the inability to legally marry leaves many challenges to both parents having official guardianship of their adopted child. Read the full article here.

PFLAG is in full support of the Every Child Deserves a Family Act, which strives to nullify the challenges same-sex persons face in the quest for adoption based upon marital status, sexual orientation or gender identity.

You can help too!

Learn more about what ECDF strives to do here. The, head over the the PFLAG National Action Center to learn about contacting your legislators to register your support for the bill.

family is family

 

 

 

Respect for Marriage Coalition – New Ad

The Respect for Marriage Coalition is a collaborative effort by over 100 special interest groups (the primary focus of which may or may not be LGBT issues) to end the Defense Against Marriage Act (DOMA). PFLAG National is one of them.

The Respect for Marriage Coalition is a partnership of more than 100 civil rights, faith, health, labor, business, legal, LGBT, student, and women’s organizations working together to end the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and grow support for the freedom to marry.

This organization is responsible, in part, for introducing the Respect for Marriage Act to the United States Congress in June of last year (apparently just hours after Section 3 of DOMA was overturned by the Supreme Court). The bill would effectively nullify the discriminatory language of the 16-year-old statute and recognize the rights of all married couples (same-sex or otherwise) on a federal level regardless of where that marriage was officiated.

The Respect for Marriage Coalition is gaining steam since last June and just release an ad which features the opinions of three prominent Republican figures, former First Lady, Laura Bush, former Vice President Dick Cheney (who has a gay daughter, in case you didn’t know) and former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

To see what you can do for the Respect for Marriage Coalition, go here.