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Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transgenders promotes the health and well-being of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered persons, their families and friends through:
- Support to cope with an adverse society
- Education to enlighten an ill-informed public
- Advocacy to end discrimination and secure equal civil rights.
PFLAG provides opportunity for dialogue about sexual orientation, and acts to create a society that is healthy and respectful of human diversity. Keeping families together is the mission of PFLAG. Our family values stress education, understanding, acceptance, and support, but most of all love, thereby empowering our children -- straight and gay -- to lead happy and productive lives.
Seattle PFLAG consists of:
- parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, sisters, brothers, children, spouses
- friends and allies
- lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered persons
PFLAG is also:
- a non-profit, tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) corporation
- not affiliated with any ethnic, religious, economic, or political group
- a volunteer, local, community-based group
On a Sunday afternoon, in January 1979, meeting over coffee and tea, Seattle PFLAG was born. Five mothers met to get to know each other and share experiences. They decided they could support their gays sons and lesbian daughters by forming a support group for parents, siblings, and other relatives of gays and lesbians. After a lot of discussion, they added Friends and thus chose the name Families and Friends of Lesbian and Gays. Seattle kept this name until the group formally incorporated on its own in 1985.
On that Sunday afternoon, the mothers chose the third Sunday in February, at 7:00 P.M. as the date and time for their first meeting. Bev (Harvey) Coco arranged for us to meet at St. Patrick’s church in the Roanoke neighborhood. Shirley Kurtz created flyers and distributed them on community bulletin boards, replacing them as they disappeared. Arleen Nelson wrote press releases and/or cover letters. Doris Wood helped us mail our press releases and/or cover letters to all the daily newspapers in the Puget Sound area, to many weekly newspapers, to all listed television and radio stations, and to social service and mental health agencies and gay/lesbian groups that we could identify. Doris headed the effort to provide coffee, tea, and cookies.
The fifth mother, Mona, supported our project but could not directly help because she was moving from the area. This was a loss for us, since Mona lived in Bremerton and would probably have started PFLAG there shortly after we did in Seattle.
At our first meeting (on that Sunday in February), the four mothers were joined by another mother, Lorraine Lee, a grandfather, and the director of the ACLU, who brought two young gay men (in their first year of college) who needed parental support. We knew we had found our mission.
Monthly meetings have been held without interruption since that first meeting until the present, even though only one parent was there in July 1979. The monthly meetings always included a time for stories. As the group grew in numbers, we broke into smaller groups to allow everyone to share as needed. For two years, from 1982 to 1984, meetings were held on the 4 th Monday as well as the 2 nd Monday, which we chose in 1979 to be our primary meeting time. The nd Monday meeting has endured to this day. The first meeting remained the support and sharing meeting, while the second meeting included speakers, panels, and discussion groups related to our goals. Preparing for and dealing with the results of coming out has always been a frequent topic, as well as many other topics related to homosexuality. When we returned to the one-meeting-per-month schedule, we expanded our format to include both the speakers and the sharing in one meeting.
Another project was our Help Line, started in late Spring 1979. Doris Wood handled the primary Help Line effort for 11 years, while others took over briefly from time to time to give her much needed breaks. Doris has earned our deep gratitude for her devotion to that vital part of Seattle PFLAG.
As our presence became known, Gay and Lesbian organizations invited us to be involved in many ways: as speakers, as members of their boards, as participants on special projects, and so forth. We were asked to be speakers and to appear on panels by school groups, ranging from high school and college
health classes to university Gay/Lesbian student groups. We were asked to chaperone the first Lesbian/Gay Prom at the University of Washington. Looking back, it is amazing how much we accomplished from the time of our first meeting to 1985, when we realized that we were outgrowing our meeting space and organizational structure.
- David Zimmerman
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