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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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)

 

 

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

 

 

 

Unitarian Universalists of North Idaho

Q: What do you get when you cross a Jehovah’s Witness with a Unitarian Universalist?
A: Someone who knocks on your door and asks you what YOU believe.

Have you heard of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations? For short, and because meetings are generally on Sunday, we call it “church”. But it’s not like any church you’ve ever been to.

uua logoThe Unitarians promote and live their lives by seven pretty basic principles:

1. The inherent worth and dignity of every person

2. Justice, equality and compassion in all human relations

3. Acceptance of one another and encouragement to grow spiritually

4. A free (as in uninhibited) and responsible search for truth and meaning

5. The right of conscious and the democratic process, both in the congregations and society at large

6. The goal of the world community with peace, liberty and justice for all

7. Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part

Sounds great, right? No dogma or doctrine. Just guidelines for living life well and respecting the lives you encounter along the way. A church that encourages the concept of “life before death”. Learn as much as you want by visiting their website.

coexist2The local chapter of the Unitarian Universalists has been serving the Coeur d’Alene area with meetings most Sundays, book discussions, dances and socials. I’ve attended a handful of times over the last year because, personally, I love the community feeling of a church without Jesus Christ being shoved down my (and my kids’) throat. Just one woman’s opinion.

If you are interested in learning more about the North Idaho Unitarian Universalists, please consider attending a mixer being hosted by one of the congregations members or sitting in on a service. The meetings are held at the Harding Family Center at 411 N. 15th St in Coeur d’Alene from 10:30 to 11:30AM. Childcare is provided for free most Sundays, and this is one of the most welcoming bunches of people I have ever met!  uuni bbq invite 2 jpeg

Straight 4 Equality

Straight 4 Equality is an organization established in 2007 by PFLAG National in order to have a place specifically for straight allies (who may not necessarily have a family connection) of the LGBT community to go for education and outreach opportunities.

If you’re one of the roughly 8 in 10 people who can say “I have a gay friend (or coworker, or acquaintance)” this is the place for you.

Straight 4 Equality was conceived to address a growing need for people who are supportive of equal rights for all but who don’t directly benefit from policy changes or new legislation. It’s an outsider, standing up for a marginalized group.

I-am-an-AllySeveral campaigns have been launched recently to engage “straight, but not narrow” advocates, including signing an online pledge to stand up to bullies, support individual members of the LGBT community and encourage others to watch their mouths! They also have a campaign intended for both straight allies and those who are in need of straight allies.

Simply download and print out one of these signs (according to your personal affirmation), fill out the form and take a photo of yourself holding it up. Put it someplace visible and get a conversation started! Submit it to all of your social media followers with the tags #straight4equality and #iamastraightally or #ineedastraightally. Share it on Straight 4 Equality’s Facebook page or email it to info@straightforequality.org!

i need a straight ally because  i'm a straight ally because

For those of you who will be attending the next meeting for PFLAG Coeur d’Alene, I will have signs for you to fill out and have your picture taken. Your photos will be shared on the blog, on our local facebook page and with PFLAG National and Straight 4 Equality.

“They Beat the Girl Out of My Boy… Or So They Tried”

Recently, a group of friends and I produced and directed a performance of Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues. Originally performed as a one-women off-off-Broadway show in the 90’s, this play has evolved into a worldwide, billion-participant movement to end violence against women and girls. It was a humbling and extremely rewarding experience.

There are half a dozen plays that can be used as fundraising vehicles for local violence prevention and education programs, but, as a rule, The Vagina Monologues is to be performed only by women. The idea is that only those who possess a vagina can understand the unique sexual and physical struggle that women face in today’s society. In 2004, a monologue was introduced to include those who were not born with the physical female anatomy, but who have come to realize their true gender identity. I wanted to share this with you:

They Beat The Girl Out Of My Boy…Or So They Tried

by Eve Ensler

Introduction

As part of Eve’s work to include the voices of all women who face violence, she

interviewed a diverse group of transwomen in preparation for creating this piece. This

piece was performed for the first time by an all transgendered cast in LA in 2004.

They Beat The Girl Out Of My Boy…Or So They Tried

At five years old

I was putting my baby sister’s

diapers on.

I saw her vagina.

I wanted one.

I wanted one.

I thought it would grow

I thought I would open

I ached to belong

I ached to smell

like my mother

her sweet aroma lived in my hair

on my hands, in my skin

I ached to be pretty

Pretty

I wondered why I was missing my

Bathing suit top at the beach

Why I wasn’t dressed like the other girls

I ached to be completed

I ached to belong

To twirl the baton

They assigned me a sex

The day I was born.

It’s as random as being adopted

or a being assigned a hotel room on the 30th floor.

It has nothing to do with who you are

Or your fear of heights.

But in spite of the apparatus

I was forced to carry around

I always knew I was a girl.

They beat me for it.

They beat me for crying.

They pummeled me for wanting

To touch

To pet

To hug

To help

To hold

Their hands

For trying to fly in church

like Sister Batrell

For doing cartwheels.

Crocheting socks

For carrying purses to kindergarten

They kicked the shit out of me every day

On my way to school.

In the park

They smashed my

Magic marker painted nails

They punched my lipsticked mouth

They beat the girl

out of my boy.

Or they tried.

So I went underground.

I stopped playing the flute

“Be a man, stand up for yourself

Go punch him back.”

I grew a full beard.

It was good I was big.

I joined the Marines

“Suck it up and drive on.”

I became duller.

Jaded.

Sometimes cruel.

Butch it

Butch it

Butch it up.

Always clenched, inaccurate,

Incomplete.

I ran away from home

From school

From boot camp.

Ran to Miami

Greenwich village

Aleutian islands

New Orleans.

I found gay people

Wilderness lesbians

Got my first hormone shot

Got permission to be myself

To transition

To travel

To immigrate

350 hours of hot needles

I would count the male particles as they died

16 man hairs gone.

The feminine is in your face

I lift my eyebrows more

I’m curious

I ask questions.

And my voice

Practice practice

It’s all about resonance

Sing song sing song

Men are monotone and flat

Southern accents are really excellent

Jewish accents really help.

“Hello my friend”

And my vagina is so much friendlier

I cherish it

It brings me joy

The orgasms come in waves

Before they were jerky

I’m your girl next door

My Lt. Colonel father ending

Up paying for it.

My vagina

My mother was worried

what people would think

of her

That she made this happen

Until I came to church

And everyone said you have a beautiful

Daughter.

I got to be soft

I am allowed to listen

I am allowed to touch

I am able to

To receive.

To be in the present tense

People are so much nicer to me now

I can wake up in the morning

Put my hair in a pony tail

A wrong was righted.

I am right with God.

It’s like when you’re trying to sleep

And there is a loud car alarm–

When I got my vagina, it was like someone

Finally turned it off.

I live now in the female zone

but you know how people feel about

immigrants.

They don’t like it when you come from someplace else.

They don’t like it when you mix.

They killed my boyfriend

They beat him insanely as he slept

With a baseball bat

They beat this girl

Out of his head.

They didn’t want him

Dating a foreigner

Even though she was pretty

And she listened and was kind.

They didn’t want him falling in love

With ambiguity.

They were scared he’d get lost.

They were that terrified of love.