The crowd along Sixth Avenue was losing its mind. It was Sunday, June 25, 1972, and Dr. Benjamin Spock was walking uptown with the Christopher Street Liberation Day March, the scrappier, more revolutionary precursor to the New York City Pride Parade. Although he had risen to fame as a pediatrician, Spock was almost as well known for his support of left-wing causes—from legalizing abortion to ending the Vietnam War—as he was for “The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care,” which had already sold more than ten million copies. Still, even by his standards, joining the Christopher Street crowd was a radical act. Two years earlier, when the march was held for the first time, its organizers had worried that no one would come. Those who did were so hopped up on adrenaline and fear that the fifty-block route, from the West Village to Central Park, took them half as long as anticipated; afterward, they jokingly called it the Christopher Street Liberation Day Run. Now here was Dr. Spock, one of the most influential figures in America, joining their ranks. As he passed by, the people lining the streets whistled and clapped and screamed themselves hoarse.
But all this hullabaloo was not, as it turned out, for the famous doctor; it was for a diminutive middle-aged woman marching just in front of him. She was not famous at all—not the author of any books, not the leader of any movement, not self-evidently a radical of any kind. With her jacket and brooch and plaid skirt and spectacles, she had the part-prim, part-warm demeanor of an old-fashioned elementary-school teacher, which she was. She was carrying a piece of orange poster board with a message hand-lettered in black marker: “parents of gays: unite in support for our children.” She had no idea that the crowd was cheering for her until total strangers started running up to thank her. They asked if they could kiss her; they asked if she would talk to their parents; they told her that they couldn’t imagine their own mothers and fathers supporting them so publicly, or supporting them at all.
The woman’s name was Jeanne Manford, and she was marching alongside her twenty-one-year-old gay son, Morty. Moved by the outpouring of emotion, the two of them discussed it all along the route. By the time they reached Central Park, they had also reached a decision: if so many people wished that someone like Jeanne could talk to their parents, why not make that possible? The organization they dreamed up that day, which started as a single support group in Manhattan, was initially called Parents of Gays; later, it was renamed Parents flag, for Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays; nowadays, it is known only as pflag. Just a handful of people attended its first meeting, held fifty years ago this spring. Today, it has four hundred chapters and well north of a quarter of a million members.
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* This story was originally in April 17, 2023 issue of The New Yorker.
This 12-year-old wants to continue gender-affirming care. NC lawmakers are trying to stop it.
When Amanda Dumas heard details about the latest North Carolina bills aimed at limiting medical treatment of transgender children, the door to the place where she holds back her rage cracked open again.
Just as she was about to head to her youngest child’s monthly counseling session, she saw that a bill banning puberty-blocking drugs and hormone therapy for transgender minors was revived by the state General Assembly.
And she figured before 12-year-old Michael talked to his therapist, she might as well tell him that the puberty-blocking shot he receives every three months might soon be barred by North Carolina.
The shots prevent Mike from going through puberty, stopping him from developing breasts or starting to menstruate. The shots allow Mike to continue to live as the boy he’s been since he was 5 years old.
Amanda and her husband, Josh, have seen the wave of laws barring gender-affirming treatment of transgender children enacted across the country this year, swelling like the tide and inching toward them. It’s at their toes now, and they can’t ignore it.
For years, Mike and his family have been helped by therapists and doctors who’ve consulted with volumes of research on the best approaches to raising a transgender child. They’ve put a plan in place to advance from Mike’s current puberty blockers to hormone therapy that will allow his body to transition physically to the gender he’s always identified as.
Read more here.
My name is Doug Cooper (he/him). I am an Associate Professor of Psychology at Johnson C. Smith University and PFLAG Charlotte’s new Board Chair and President. I went to my first PFLAG Charlotte support group meeting in 2015 with my partner. We were expecting to learn more about how to be better allies to a gender diverse teenager. In that process, we also found community and belonging. I never imagined that I would join the board in 2018 or become Board Chair and President in 2023. As I step into this next chapter, I find myself incredibly grateful to my supportive partner who encourages my personal growth, a gender diverse adult who has given me the grace to learn what it means to be an ally, and to the PFLAG Charlotte members and stakeholders.
In every support group and workshop, one of our most important values is: “we meet you where you are.” We recognize that every allyship journey is unique and regardless of where you begin, we want to support your journey forward. In the last several years, we have learned that this value is both figurative and literal. Dedicated board members and volunteers started satellite support groups in North Meck and Union County to meet people closer to home. During the global pandemic we met people where they needed us: on screen in their living rooms and offices. Even though many of our events are back in person, PFLAG Charlotte continues to meet people where they are with new workshops, peer support in Spanish, and a soon-to-be-released podcast.
As I step into this role, I am acutely aware of how much we are needed right now and the importance of continuing the work to meet people where they are. I want to continue the discussions on how to provide support for marginalized communities and families in the surrounding Charlotte area. I want to continue to expand individual and corporate partnerships that serve our community. And I want to continue to empower the incredible work our team of professionals do every day to connect PFLAG Charlotte to the people who need us.
Of course, none of this would be possible without the support of a dedicated and skilled Board of Directors. We are lucky to have so many talented professionals join us in this important work. Our board includes members of the LGBTQ+ community and allies. They are professionals in finance, marketing, education, health care, and law. We all share is a deep commitment to the inclusion and rights of LGBTQ+ individuals. I am excited to bring this new team together in August.
But the addition of seven new board members is bittersweet, as we bid farewell to two amazing board members who have been instrumental in PFLAG Charlotte’s growth. Over the past two years Sarah Eyssen (she/her) has served as the President and Board Chair. She has served on the board since 2015 and was one of the people who had the vision to make PFLAG Charlotte allyship workshops accessible to doctor’s offices, schools, or workplaces. Under her leadership PFLAG Charlotte has increased corporate sponsors and been able to hire a team of professionals to oversee the day-to-day operations.
Our Treasurer, Eileen Conlin (she/her), joined the board in 2019. She has guided us towards the financial stability needed to serve the greater Charlotte area with a dedicated team of paid professionals. But what I’ll remember most about Sarah and Eileen was when they met my family where they were. Like they have done on so many occasions for other families, they encouraged and supported our family’s journey and gave me the confidence to turn my journey into a new passion. In my new role, I hope to continue their legacy of leading with love and meeting all who need us where they are.
For 36 years, PFLAG Charlotte has been working to make North Carolina a place where everyone can thrive, without fear of discrimination, harassment, or harm. In a climate that is seeing a rise in anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric and real-world violence, PFLAG Charlotte vehemently opposes the introduction and consideration of the following anti-LGBTQ+ bills by the North Carolina General Assembly: S639, H808, S560, H43, H786, S636, S631, H574, S49, S641, H819, H673. PFLAG Charlotte calls on all supportive North Carolinians to contact your legislators to speak out in opposition to these bills.
Let’s ensure that every student has a safe and welcoming school environment, access to books and lessons that are honest, accurate, and inclusive, and the ability to participate in sports. Let’s make sure that LGBTQ+ youth have access to the medically necessary healthcare they need and that all of us have the love and support of our families, friends, neighbors.
PFLAG Charlotte works each day to support families, educate allies, and advocate for equality. Join us as we lead with love to create a caring, just and affirming North Carolina–and world–for LGBTQ+ people and those who love them. Shared below are action items provided by the LGBTQ+ community in Charlotte and EqualityNC.
Download a PDF of PFLAG Charlotte’s Statement on Anti-LGBTQ+ Bills.
President & Board Chair
Charlotte – PFLAG Charlotte has become an integral part of the Charlotte community since its founding in 1987. But the non-profit dedicated to supporting families, allies and LGBTQ+ people has especially seen demand for its services skyrocket in the past year, as families spent more time together during the pandemic.
To respond to increased community needs, PFLAG Charlotte is happy to announce new roles for two leaders who are very familiar to the PFLAG community.
Karen Graci will serve as PFLAG Charlotte’s first executive director. She will lead the organization’s efforts to strengthen families, empower LGBTQ+ allies, and elevate LGBTQ+ communities through peer support, education, and community outreach.
Previously, Graci served as board chair and president for PFLAG Charlotte. Earlier in her career, she worked with Deloitte in Washington, D.C., Wilton, Conn., and Charlotte, where her roles included manager of national recruiting.
“It’s an honor to be part of an organization where diversity is celebrated and all are valued,” Graci says. “We’re excited to expand our peer support programs and broaden our education and outreach efforts, while working collaboratively with other organizations to meet the increasing need in our community.”
Sarah Eyssen has been named PFLAG Charlotte board chair and chapter president. A volunteer with PFLAG Charlotte since 2015, Eyssen has more than a decade of experience in non-profit and board leadership. She holds a law degree from St. Mary’s University School of Law. As a PFLAG Charlotte board member for the past several years, Eyssen has been an integral part of creating the board’s vision for 2021 and beyond.
Says Eyssen, “On my desk, a sampler stitched by my mother reminds me, “of my love be sure”. PFLAG began over 40 years ago because of another mother’s assurance of love for her child. It is in this same spirit that I serve. I am honored to be working toward a reality in which all LGBTQ+ individuals are affirmed in love.”
PFLAG Charlotte’s programs focus on peer support, education, outreach and advocacy. Since the beginning of the pandemic, PFLAG Charlotte has offered its programming online to meet the needs of families and organizations throughout the area.
Demand for support and education from PFLAG Charlotte has increased significantly since summer 2020, with a five-fold increase in requests for peer support, and more organizations taking advantage of the chapter’s ability to deliver remote programming. In the past year alone, more than 1,000 area professionals participated in a PFLAG Charlotte educational workshop.
About PFLAG Charlotte
PFLAG Charlotte is one of the more than 400 chapters of PFLAG National, the nation’s first and largest organization for LGBTQ+ people, their parents, families, and allies.
For LGBTQ+ people and their loved ones, PFLAG is known as a place to find community and support, to learn about the issues affecting LGBTQ+ people and how to be a better ally, and to work to achieve equality for LGBTQ+ people.
Acceptance is the First Step to Love
Presented by Jim Anderson
100 Words Film Festival Charity Film
Directed by Holly Lane
“The words that follow are tied to the documentary video with regards to welcome that I posted yesterday (last week). . . . I can’t in good conscience be silent about some of the stories I collected.” Read More
“As a documentary artist . . . I wanted to explore welcome from the perspective of the receiver. Those who walk into faith communities and may or may not feel welcome.”Read More