Monday, July 8, 2013

Where the hell is everybody? Or: my first PFLAG meeting.

     I went to my first parent support meeting, i.e. PFLAG (

     Can I just say, and I know this isn't strictly supportive, I hate the name PFLAG? I do. I just hate it. It sounds like Pee Flag. It also rhymes a little too closely to the F word.  I'm willing to admit that this rhyming issue is a holdover, a brain tic from my old prejudices and yet another sign that I'm Just. Not. Where. I. Should. Be. Yet.
     I just think it's a lame acronym. In my mind, it doesn't conjure up parental strength, security, wisdom and love; it sounds like a South American snail, or a  rash you get from a rare pizza allergy (sorry, ma'am, but you've come down with pflag). Also, there's no T in PFLAG. And no B. I know it was started a while ago, so I know when they say "parents, families and friends of lesbians and gays" they really, secretly mean "AND transgender and bisexual." They do, right?

     from the official site:
     Founded in 1972 with the simple act of a mother publicly supporting her gay son, PFLAG is the original ally organization. Made up of parents, families, friends, and straight allies uniting with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people, PFLAG is committed to advancing equality through its mission of support, education and advocacy. Now in its 40th anniversary year, PFLAG has over 350 chapters and 200,000 supporters crossing multiple generations of American families in major urban centers, small cities and rural areas in all 50 states. - See more at:

     Ok, they do mean to include transgender and bisexual people. Just not in the name. I get that this might be a non-issue. Brands are battles, and they've been fighting this one a long time. Changing the name to PFLAGBT doesn't work, doesn't roll of the old tongue. Maybe PFGALTB? No. Also dumb, also sans-tongue rolling.

     This is the acronym of my own, one person, one mother support group:

  MyChildIsLGTBAndIfYouHurtOrHarassThemI'llGiveYouAnIrishFacialAndThenMakeChiliOutOfYouBecauseThey'reExtremelyNiceAndForgivingButIAmNotEspeciallyWhenItComesToTheirSafetyAndWellBeing (or: MCILGTBAIYHOHTIGYAIFATMCOOYBTENAFBIANEWICTTSAWB, for short). 

     I asked my kid if the name PFLAG bothered them, and they just laughed. I said, it's dumb right? Or not? Is it not dumb? And they shrugged, and said what can ya do? They did mention, as a little side comment, some time later, that there definitely are people, gay and lesbian and bi people, who are not overwhelmingly accepting of transgender people ( they were not referring to the PFLAG policies,  this was just a random thought) This makes no sense to me, as a rank novice and barely on the inside insider, but according to my child, some gay/lesbian/bi people see the transgender issue as separate from them. Like transgender people can't make up their minds, or something, or they're just emotionally confused, or they're not as valid and therefore not part of the Cause. I don't know. I can't quite get it, yet. I need to study this one. It would be nice if Transgender (and bisexual) was part of the name. Maybe I'm so overwhelmed from the enormity of this issue in my own life that I'm tiptoe-ing on little rocks that line the path, instead of just walking down the damn stone path itself. Entirely possible. Entirely.

     So, the meeting. I went on the local PFLAG site, emailed the contact about meetings/info/etc, didn't hear anything back for a week, said to hell with it, went to the meeting place at the listed time, and...drum roll....

                                     THERE WAS NOBODY THERE.

     I asked a maintenance guy if I was at the right place, and he said Yup. I asked if this was the right time, and he said Pretty Sure, Yup. I sat down on the grass and knitted for an hour, and then it just got too hot, and I left. I was really, really disappointed. I had a lot of expectations, not the least of which was an image of me being surrounded by sharp, organized parents who had nothing but love and wisdom and comfort (godallmighty did I want comfort, almost more than anything else), parents who would show me the secret handshake, the obvious-but-not-until-you-learn-them tips for being a successful LGTB parent. I had even told myself that it would be fine, just fine, if I was the only parent of a transgender child, that we were all sort of in the same boat, fighting the same fight, that it just wouldn't matter because we would have each other. We would find safety and strength in numbers, our specifics wouldn't matter.

     The very last thing I expected was to be the only one there.

     This is, supposedly, an established group, the one I tried to attend. I'm not sure why a liberal oasis like Lawrence, Kansas, doesn't have its own PFLAG group, but unless my google-fu has totally abandoned me, there really isn't a group here. I don't mind driving (I mean, I do mind driving because of gas prices and a car that is flat out unreliable and breaking down in the country still brings to mind horror movie tropes even though I've been here a few years). I'll drive to KCMO, if I have to, a two hour round trip. I just don't understand where everyone is, locally. I CAN'T be the only LGTB parent seeking support and information. I just can't.

     I don't want to start my own group. I want someone else to tell me what to do, how to be, what helps, what hurts, how this can't really be as difficult as it seems right now. I don't want to be in charge. I don't want to stand up and take minutes and figure schedules and book guest speakers. I flat out DO NOT WANT THAT. I want someone, preferably many someones, to take me under their wings, in their arms, etc., etc. I want someone else to have figured this all out first.

    I suppose what I'm really saying is, I want someone else to fight this battle for me.


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