Opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent the views of the congregation I joyfully serve. But my congregation loves me!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Why We Need PFLAG in the Tri-Cities

Four of us were interviewed by the Johnson City Press yesterday. There will be an article in Sunday's paper regarding PFLAG Tri-Cities. One of the interviewees spoke eloquently on behalf of her high school age daughter. She was nervous about speaking and had written down her thoughts. She shared them with me and gave me permission to publish them. This is why we need PFLAG in East Tennessee, SW Virginia, and Western North Carolina:


One in ten human beings on this planet is something other than heterosexual. That's a lot of people. So they go to their families, because of course you expect your family to love and accept you no matter what. But I know a lot of people who do not get acceptance from their families. Their families disown or otherwise reject them, there is anger, there is denial. I know people whose lifelong friends have turned their backs on them upon finding out they are not straight. I know parents who would not allow certain children to even be FRIENDS with their children, if they were to know about their orientation. My own child has been physically assaulted three times this year in school, simply because she is brave enough to be open and honest about who she is.

These kids face a lot of intolerance everywhere they go. I want my child to know that at home, she can count on us to love and accept her without exception. I want my child to understand that my highest wish for her is that she lead a good life, full of love and beautiful experiences. I want her to know that she never needs to be ashamed of something as beautiful as love, and that her family would never ask her to try to be someone other than who she is. I want her to know that she can bring her girlfriend home to meet her family and they will be accepted and treated with kindness and respect, that she will not have to pretend it is something else in front of others in deference to their comfort and at the expense of her own self-respect. She is safe in her family and she is loved, whether gay, straight or purple rhinoceros.

I think there are a lot of other parents out there who would perhaps want to do the same, but they are afraid of the repercussions in their community if they stand up in support of their child. They are afraid of being punished or rejected by their family, their friends, their church. They are afraid of repercussions in the workplace and of intolerance-fueled violence in public places. I think there are parents out there who desperately want to speak up in support of their child, but their fear is such that they need to see that they are not alone before they can do it. So here I am, I'm standing up to tell them that they are not alone, and that there are many of us out here, and we are not going away. They and their child can be honest and open and we will accept them and treat them with respect, and we will help them. I'm standing up for PFLAG so there is a friendly face ready to welcome them when they are ready to come.

--Melanie, Johnson City

Our first meeting is Thursday, April 17th at 7 p.m. at Warf-Pickel on the campus of ETSU. Download a flyer and pass it around!

If you would like to make a donation to PFLAG Tri-Cities, you can now do so. For the work of support, education, and advocacy in the Tri-Cities area, send a tax-deductible donation to:

PFLAG Tri-Cities
P.O. Box 42
Mountain Home, TN 37684


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