For many PFLAG members, hearing about the journey of allies really resonates with them. Just like every PFLAG parent, every ally has a story that brought them to where they are today. Check out some of these unique narratives from allies who have become active members of their local chapter.
If you would like to share your story as a straight ally involved with your local PFLAG chapter please contact us!
I am a straight parent of a straight adult child with no real agenda. I joined PFLAG-Dallas about 12 years ago because I have always felt very passionately about equal rights for all. Additionally, I was also blessed with many gay and lesbian friends who had become part of my family over the years and I was tired of witnessing the needless painful abuse and rejection they endured due to an orientation they had no control over.
Although I’ve always believed deeply in the equality of all people, I was “activated” when the issue of same-sex marriage hit the front page of The Oregonian newspaper in March of 2004. The vicarious joy I felt for people so long denied truly took me by surprise. The need to participate, to contribute to this historic event led me from one volunteer opportunity to another. The wonderful people, couples, families and stories only fueled my fire and before long I was attending PFLAG meetings regularly.
I learned about the amazing results of PFLAG voices in rural and urban areas around the state, saw their impact in support group settings, on school and community leaders, in legislative sessions etc. This, I thought, this is the way to ensure that our elegant system of democracy lives up to it’s potential to ensure true equality for all. In a world full of overwhelming issues it is clear to me that PFLAG is a place where one can take a focused and effective stand for what is right, and now I’m thrilled to be part of its Straight for Equality program.
The hardest part about being an ally is actually asking yourself, “Do I have what it takes to become an ally?”
Whenever I wanted to say something positive about lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) issues, I was befuddled. I did not feel qualified to be an ally – I am straight, I have no LGBT family member, I rarely even talked about LGBT issues. What right did I have to advocate for LGBT equal rights if I was unfamiliar about these issues? I had no role models to help me. I have no power, I am nobody special, and I am not a leader of anything, so what difference could I make? All I have are positive attitudes, but they were insufficient for helping me address LGBT issues.
These feelings changed when I attended PFLAG. I had my own coming out process – I was anxious about being a straight ally. But when I came out, with the support of PFLAG members, I determined my role as a straight ally in the LGBT movement. Since then, I became the leader of PFLAG Chicago and constructed a college course to teach straight students how to be LGBT allies. What was gratifying about this was knowing that others wanted to help the LGBT communities, but they too did not know where to start. There are many ways to be a straight ally and it is possible to become a confident, credible straight ally – and now Straight for Equality is here for all of these people.
PFLAG was a foreign term to me in 2010 when I casually passed their fair booth in Yuma, Arizona. It was the rainbow flags that caught my attention. I paused for a moment to scan the banner and was immediately engaged. My younger bother had come out to me just a few years prior and the subject of LBGT rights had become personal. I took a few pamphlets that day and vowed to swing by a meeting sooner rather than later.
I remember my first meeting well; I was overwhelmed with unexpected emotion to have found myself surrounded by people who had walked similar paths and had similar experiences. That first day I listened to the stories of members, both gay and straight, and I was really moved. I felt under-qualified to consider myself an ally. I felt like it was presumptions of me to think that the LBGT community could need me as an advocate for the cause. The entire process was intimidating at first, but the members were warm and friendly and received me as if they had been waiting for me to arrive. They supplied me with free booklets on being an ally as well as information on gay rights and faith communities.
The more time I spent around my PFLAG family the more I felt the need for an outlet – a way to express my emotions regarding this process of becoming an ally. As my family dynamic became more challenging I knew I needed to take a stand. I began blogging on the subject of gay rights hoping that someone, somewhere would find it encouraging hearing another persons experience. It was surprising to me to realize how challenging it could be to simply come out publicly as an ally, and this gave me even more insight as to how hard the process of coming out is for a LGBT person.
The reward for taking a stand as a straight ally has been immeasurable. I have connected with some many people and have heard so many stories of the triumphs and trials that others have endured. I have been embraced with open arms by LGBT friends and have built relationships that I would have completely missed otherwise. Taking a stand as a n ally has been freeing for me, it has given me a purpose and confidence I did not expect. There is a community of people out there who need our alliance and support to challenge the archaic thinking and change the tempo within our communities.