Friday, October 21, 2011

Waving the the (P)flag

I went to a P-FLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) meeting last week. It wasn’t my first P-FLAG meeting, but it may as well have been. And not just because it was at a place I’ve never been (the Metropolitan Community Church) in Los Angeles, and nobody knew me when I made my entrance in my wheelchair, and I was asked, “And who are you?” (Yikes, but I’m delighted to say that I passed with flying colors - pun intended - with my speech device.)

I had learned a few days earlier that a friend of mine is involved with this group, and I decided to go out there on a whim. As I told the group, there used to be a P-FLAG meeting here in Claremont when I came out about ten years ago. Going to the meeting at that time was very helpful, and I missed it when it ceased to exist.

But I really didn’t remember. I forgot how powerful a P-FLAG meeting is. I forgot about the funny and wrenching coming-out stories, about how moving it is to hear a mother say all the horrible things she thought when her son told her that he’s gay, about how touching it is to see a father cry when telling how he rejected his lesbian daughter. Even more powerful is when, as in a couple cases at this meeting, both the child and parent are there.

I forgot how much I love having this community, even as it hurts me when I, as I also said at the meeting, wish my parents would attend a P-FLAG meeting (if not march in a gay pride parade as part of a P-FLAG contingent).

I also remembered the piece I wrote attending my first P-FLAG meeting. I was terrified - not only of announcing that I’m gay, but this was long before I had my speech device - and I was accompanied by my friends Alan and Jim, who all but held my hand. Unfortunately, I can’t find a hard copy of the piece, which was published in the chapter newsletter and which was lost, along with all my other writing, when my hard drive crashed two years ago. (Hard lesson learned: Always back up your files!)

Soon after attending the meeting last week, I got the idea of getting the Claremont P-FLAG meeting up and running again. I probably can’t, but I sure would like to. It is crazy that I have to drive to L.A and my P-FLAG-attends Claremont friends trek to Orange County.

There’s something more, though. It can be argued that the laying down of a P-FLAG meeting is a good thing, because it means that everything is okay for GLBT people. I don’t buy it. I don’t think P-FLAG is about or all about getting gay rights. Even if we queer folks get all the rights we need and want, it is still important to have places where we and our loved ones to go and have community and support.

P.S: Speaking of community, I went to Occupy L.A a couple days ago. What struck me most was how very, very organized it is. There are detailed guidelines on conducting business and reaching consensus, and there are general meetings, committees, workshops and affinity groups (including “GLBTQ”. (Sound familiar, fellow Quakers?)

However, that doesn’t mean that there are no problems and that everything is lovey-dovey. For example, I read yesterday that the people there are arguing over drugs. They need to nip this is the bud - pun definitely intended - and ban illegal drugs, or Occupy L.A will very soon be over. (I plan to post more about Occupy L.A soon.)

1 comment:

  1. great insight, once again John re: PFLAG. I can't wait to hear your thoughts on Occupy. We've been occupying San Diego down south and it has been a very interesting and enlightening experience for a long-time peace activist... group dynamics, egos, aggressive behavior, peaceful pow-wows... it's all there!