Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians And Gays (PFLAG) Q and A session

Nicole Loftus associate faculty and Allison Camelot department chair at PFLAG Meeting (SHERRY LUCAS/LARIAT STAFF)

Sherry Lucas

The Division of Social and Behavioral Sciences arranged a question and answer session last Tuesday with a panel of speakers from Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians And Gays. 

More than 200 people packed into Room 212 of the Admissions Building, sitting on the floor and standing against walls to hear what the PFLAG speakers had to say.

“When we started there was like 25 people, now its standing room only. That was like five years ago,” said Allison Camelot, sociology instructor and department chair.

With more people interested in being homosexuality and the role these individuals play in our society, some instructors took initiative and offered credit to students who attended the event.

“Students, taking either a psychology or sociology class received credit for attending,” said Nicole Loftus, associate faculty member.

“A year ago it wasn’t important to me, then a good friend came out and it’s important that everyone have equal happiness,” said Caitlin O’bannan, 19, psychology major.

PFLAG is a national non-profit organization started in the early ‘70s by Jean Manford. The mother of a gay son, she marched with him in New York’s Pride Day parade, and after many of the gay and lesbians in attendance begged her to talk to their parents, she started the organization with a mission to promote the health and well-being of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons, their families and friends. That mission has not waivered since. 

The basic structure of a panel of speakers consists of the straight parent of a homosexual, which was Barbara; A gay male, Tod, a gay female, Angie and a transgender, Chad. This gives diversity to stories shared and questions answered.

“There is a saying, when a child comes out of the closet, the parent retreats into the closet,” said Barbara.

Barbara and her husband Chad, whose son came out at the age of 16, refused to be that parent and instead became advocates for their son. 

Both Tod and Angie shared their stories and the consequences of when they came out and how they continued on to overcome the negativity. They also shared some of their other challenges along the way.

“You think about it when you’re gay, because of your personal safety” said Angie.

Chad, who is now a guy, but was born a girl, talked about always being in trouble as a child. He always felt as if he was a girl with a girl body but a mind that always thought like a boy. He shared his story on becoming a transgender.

The speakers opened the floor to questions from the audience. There were various questions asked, but the majority of the conversation revolved around the topic of marriage, the Bible and Proposition 8.

“Civil unions can only get the rights the state grants them, not federal rights,” said Tod.

An audience member commented as to why they can’t just change the word from “marriage” and use a different word.

“Separate is never equal,” said Tod

Tod was one of the 18,000 couples legally married in San Francisco despite the proposition.

To contact PFLAG or to find a local chapter, visit www.PFLAG.org on the Web, or call The Division of Social & Behavioral Sciences for more information regarding the panel of speakers.

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