From the archives: Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays

From the archives brings you old news today. As time passes, the news we report on changes, as does the way we report on it. Conversely, we’ve been covering some of the same issues since 1872. This week, we commemorate the late reverend Eldon Hay’s life and community impact. In 1998, rev. Hay was actively heading PFLAG while seeking out new members.

Thurs. Feb 19, 1998: vol. 127, issue 17.

PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) is a support group for the families and friends of lesbian women and gay men who have made or are in the process of making their “coming out.” Active in Canada for several years now, there are chapters in Amherst and Moncton.

Both chapters meet on a monthly basis. The atmosphere within is open, accepting and gay-positive. The emphasis is on real life experiences and practical solutions for people who are trying to cope, either with the initial disclosure or its continuing impact on all the people involved in the life of a gay person.

Meetings are decidedly informal and all participants are free to share as little or as much of their experience as they feel comfortable in doing. Strict confidentiality is strongly encouraged and expected.

Both chapters are made up of parents and families on the one hand, and gays and lesbians on the other. Insight and understanding come to persons in both groups, largely because of the conversation between them. As the parent of a gay son, I have grown to more fully understand the situation of my son by the words and witness of other gay and lesbian youth.

Both chapters have youth, high school and university age. Sometimes a parent comes first, then the gay, lesbian or bisexual youth. More often, perhaps, a gay young person initiates attendance, the parent or parents coming later. Of course, the children of some of the parents sometimes live in distant places – that’s my situation.

There is much work to be done to enable freedom and safety for high school and university students – and PFLAG chapters in this area have only scratched the surface. Nonetheless, a member of the Moncton chapter, a lesbian woman, took her lesbian partner to the graduation dance at Mathieu-Martin last spring, and was interviewed about it over the CBC a couple of days later.

It takes courage to witness to being gay, lesbian or bisexual. It takes courage to witness to having a gay, lesbian or bisexual offspring or family member. PFLAG provides an environment where courage can be collected, triumphs shared, problems and perplexities aired. I’m convinced of the value of PFLAG.

Eldon Hay