The history of PFLAG National begins with Jeanne Manford, a mother whose love for her gay son and belief in his right to equality set into motion the nation’s largest support and advocacy group for the LGBTQ community. (Here is a tribute to Manford by President Obama.)
Ron Schlittler, a former PFLAG deputy executive director, notes that most PFLAG chapters begin the same way: a parent wants to help their child, meets other parents in the same situation, and a new PFLAG chapter is born. Our chapter has similar origins. It was founded in April 22, 1996 as an outgrowth of the Seattle PFLAG chapter, to focus on the needs of LGBTQ families in the Eastside.
Since then, we have held monthly meetings, set up information tables at community, corporate, entertainment, and educational events, provided speakers to schools, churches, hospitals, and other forums, walked in Pride Parades in Seattle and other local communities, promoted safe schools, and worked on behalf of legislation to bring equality.
Our chapter members bring a special level of innovation, enthusiasm, and drive toward the PFLAG goals of support, education, and advocacy. Here are just a few highlights:
- We produced two videos, Love, PFLAG 1, and Love, PFLAG 2, which feature a gay adult child of PFLAG members, along with their families, friends, and supporters, speaking on behalf of equality marriage. Conceived by PFLAG member and former chair Lori Brown, these videos were a powerful appeal to voters in support of Referendum 74 and remain compelling moving testaments.
- Based on the brainstorm of former chair Wendy Wartes—one of our chapter’s founding members—we constructed our well-known and beloved Closet Float, which appears at Pride Parades and other events. Wendy also organized a large conference “Love Welcomes All” in response to the “Love Won Out” anti-gay conference put on by Exodus International, an organization advocating “ex-gay therapy.” For more details, read Wendy’s story.
- Several of our mom members designed the now famous round-shaped, neon-colored “I’m Loved by PFLAG” stickers, which we widely distribute to participants at parades, festivals, and other events. We also created matching “I’m Loved by PFLAG” signs. For details, read their story.