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Last week I listened to a piece on NPR about the changes in PFLAG over its nearly 50 years. More than anything, the reporting reminded me of the power of hearing others' stories.
Consider Kay and her husband. When their son came out to them in 1982 in Norman, Okla., they didn't have a soul in their church or community to talk to. They went to the library to educate themselves and found zip. They learned about PFLAG from "Dear Abby," and helped found a chapter.
This year they were grand marshals of Norman's Pride parade.
Stories like these make me mushier than a beanbag chair.
Then there's Claudette from North Carolina. She grew up in Jamaica, where homophobia was rampant, including at church and in popular music, and when her child came out in ninth grade as transgender, Claudette was decidedly unhappy.
She attended a PFLAG meeting, but she "met families who were more accepting of their children. And so I felt like I was a terrible parent." However, she and her child continued talking, and the head of the local PFLAG chapter invited her out for coffee.
Five years later, she marches in Pride parades, and has accepted a position on PFLAG Charlotte's board. She even switched her nursing focus to helping queer youth.
And thanks to her story, I'm a bowl of oatmeal. An old banana. Mushy peas.