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Lewes, Delaware
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September 13, 1996     Cape Gazette
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September 13, 1996

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CAPE GAZETTE, Friday, September 13 - September 19,1996 - 29 Families, friends of gays, lesbians forming (Cape Region support : group By Rosanne Pack On the surface, those gathered for a recent meeting might have seemed dissimilar -- some par- ents of college age children, a young wife and mother, a teenag- er, a grandmotherly widow with grown sons, a lay minister m but, they all are bonded by the fact that they are dealing with homosexual- ity in one aspect or another of their lives. The group of people came to- gether for an organizational meet- ing of a local chapter of Parents and Families of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). Meeting in the Metropolitan Community Church of Rehoboth Beach, the group ac- complished the routine necessities for a fledgling organization such as establishing meeting times -- 7 p.m. the first Thursday of each month, naming acting officers, ac- ceptance of by-laws of the parent organization and setting dues. They even got the list started for who will furnish refreshments at each monthly meeting. Now the new members are com- mitted to getting the word out and building their membership. They are making plans for speakers and program topics, and some are even registered to attend the Inter- national PFLAG Conference set for Oct. 11-14 in Washington, D.C. Primarily, they want people to know that they are here and re- ceptive to all. The acting president said, "We will try to meet the needs of all who are interested, families, friends, gays. The won- derful thing about a group is that everyone has different strengths, interests and abilities; we want members to do what they are in- terested in and best at, whether it's typing a newsletter on a computer, taking over the treasury, coordi- nating the refreshments. With our combined strengths and talents, we are all stronger." .In greeting the prospective members, the president said that the main criteria of the organiza- tion will be to provide support, to educate members and the public and to serve as advocates for gays NOW IN PROGRESS GIEARANG[/ Look for listing in today's classtfieds. and those who are close to them. Security, confidentiality The international organization has chapters worldwide and a membership that includes those from all walks of life. Although it is not important to all, members of the organization are assured of confidentiality. In PFLAG, they can find shelter and support, and a safe haven to discuss, lament and laugh about the experience of be- ing homosexual, having gay and lesbian family and friends and be- ing in relationships with those who are homosexual, trans-sexual or bi-sexual. Even the organizational meet- ing in the Metropolitan Communi- ty Church gave members an op- portunity to share feelings and ex- periences. One woman explained that she is not the parent of a gay child; but her husband is trans- sexual, and she has little or no op- portunity to discuss her feelings and seek support. With a divorce in progress, she and her husband must not only deal with their feel- ings, but they also must help their children through the transition. A teenager is becoming com- fortable with openness about his own sexuality, but he has not yet had the face-to-face talk with his parents. His close friends are aware of his homosexuality and they are accepting and supportive, but he knows that there are other challenges to meet. One mother has seen her gay sons grow to well-balanced, stlc- cessful adulthood. However, she remains committed to helping oth- ers deal with what still can be a situation of prejudicial behavior and discrimination. She said, "People need to stand up and speak out. Everyone needs to know how many good people are out there, and who just happen to be gay. My sons are adults and they don't even live here, but I want to help other parents, and I want to educate people who have narrow-minded opinions about those who are gay or transvestite or trans-sexual." David Patterson, lay minister of the Metropolitan Community Church, said, "God speaks love to all of us; we do not have the right to judge. This church tries to be some place where everybody can feel safe; and we are glad to help provide meeting space and what- ever support we can for PFLAG." Rewards for members Patterson advised members to attend as many community activi- ties as they can and make their or- ganization known. He said there are many people in the area who want and need such a group in their own lives. As an example of how needed the organization is, the acting president said that several people in her workplace contacted her for more information after they over- heard phone conversations as she made plans to organize the group. "Some came to me and said Tm a lesbian and I would love to be a part of this group,' others have gay children and are looking for support. There are some who want to join the group, but, they are having trouble taking that first step and attending a meeting." The mother with grown sons understands that feeling. "I will volunteer to talk with anyone if they are afraid to come to a meeting, that is a contribution that I can make to the group." she said, "I know for many, it is a big step to go before other people and acknowledge that you or your children are different. "Often, once the first step is tak- en, the good feelings grow so fast, it's so rewarding that you just want to pass them on and share. I see people who go from attending meetings to attending pride marches and organizing events. I just can't tell you how good it feels to be a part of something like PFLAG." There were some feelings of confusion expressed, but mostly, those gathered for the first PFLAG meeting expressed deter- mination and pride in their fami- lies and the direction that they Thank you for expressing your confidence in me I look forward to representing you as the Republican candidate for the 38th District in the Nov. 5th elections. On Nov. Sth Vote for e,!!,!.. .M.u,.tt, e.y were taking. The new president laughed as she said, "There's no way I would keep my son in the closet, even if I could. His father and I are very proud of him, his straight brother is very proud of him!" Membership in PFLAG Sussex County at Rehoboth is open to all; and membership lists are confidential. Meetings are the first Thursday of each month, 7 p.m.; and the next meeting is Oct. 4. 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