PFLAG Charlotte was co-founded in November, 1987, by Nila and Stokley Bailey. Prior to founding the Charlotte chapter of PFLAG, the Baileys had opened their home to members of the Charlotte gay community to come and discuss problems in their gay life. They helped parents who had just found out that their child was gay or lesbian, and were having trouble accepting it. They also had a “hotline” in their home that was available 24 hours a day.
When the Baileys heard that there was a national organization called PFLAG, they contacted the national office to ask how they could start a chapter in Charlotte. The national PFLAG office worked with them and walked them through setting up the local chapter.
During the early years of the chapter, the members discussed giving scholarships to gay students who wanted to attend a NC or SC college. The members believed they could raise the necessary funds through contributions from the members and the community. They found that the gay clubs in Charlotte were willing to hold fund raisers for the scholarship. Students could apply and the chapter board members could decide who would receive a scholarship for that year. The amount of funds raised each year would determine how many scholarships they could award and for what amounts. They were able to grant ten scholarships that ranged from $750 to $1500 each.
In 1995, Board Member Harold A Morris suggested that PFLAG Charlotte establish a permanent scholarship fund at The University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Such a fund would continue in existence on a permanent basis and the chapter would not have to worry about the lapsing of the fund. The Board agreed on establishing a permanent scholarship fund and decided to name the fund in honor of Nila and Stokley Bailey, the co-founders of PFLAG Charlotte.
The Nila and Stokley Bailey/PFLAG Charlotte Scholarship was officially established on March 30, 1995, pursuant to an agreement between PFLAG Charlotte and the Foundation of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Under this agreement, the criteria for awarding these need-based scholarships would be that preference be given to gay or lesbian students or to students working within the gay or lesbian community. The recognition of these outstanding students was expected to foster a positive view of gay and lesbian people in our society.
The initial funding for the scholarship consisted of $10,000, with a promise to add another $10,000 within 48 months. The lead donor to the Scholarship Fund was Harold A. Morris. Other Founding Donors were Sandra G. Bailey, Ronald V. Shearin, and Milton F. Thompson (chapter President, on behalf of the Charlotte PFLAG chapter.)
The Board members of PFLAG Charlotte at the time the scholarship was established were: Nila and Stokley Bailey, Lisa Bergen, Linda Fox, Peggy Love, Ed and Cathy Matel, Jack and Kathleen McGarvey, Linda Millsaps, Harold H. Morris, Garnet Phibbs, Leah Solomon, Marcia Solomon, and Milton F. Thompson.
The Scholarship Fund has grown over the years. As of May 9, 2023, the fund had received $56,841.62 in contributions and has a value of $113,878.28.
UNC – Charlotte has awarded a total of $34,652 of these PFLAG Charlotte scholarships, to a total of 34 students. Early scholarships from this fund ranged between $250 and $500. Now, the normal amounts range between $1,200 and $2000.
Donations to the Nila and Stokley Bailey / PFLAG Chharlotte Scholarship Fund can be made by:
- Credit card transaction through a direct link: https://giving.charlotte.edu/pflag
- Make a gift by check payable to: UNC Charlotte Foundation with “PFLAG Scholarship” in the memo line. Checks can be mailed to: UNC Charlotte Foundation, c/o Brittany Kicklighter, 9201 University City Blvd., Charlotte, NC 28223
Read more here.
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.
Read more here.
* This story was originally in April 17, 2023 issue of The New Yorker.
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
Recently, I had the honor of being at the annual Victory Institute’s International LGBTQ Conference. This conference is the largest gathering of LGBTQ officials in the country and is attended by hundreds of elected and appointed officials worldwide (many of whom are the first of their identities to be in their positions), activists, journalists, and policy experts. It’s also attended by people like me – a 20-year-old Black queer student who simply needed to be in a room full of successful and joyful queer leaders. I recently finished my first semester of law school and, although this conference was right before finals, I knew that not going when I had the chance was a bad idea.
So I went. And it was magic. I met queer people who I had looked up to for so long – Malcolm Kenyatta, Erin Reed, Leslie Herod, etc. – who brought powerful messages about what it means to be an activist and a leader. I had meaningful conversations in breakout sessions and plenaries about disability advocacy, reproductive justice, mental health, and how they interact with LGBTQ advocacy. On the first day of the conference, U.S. Representative Sharice Davids was asked where she finds hope despite the hate and violence queer people continue to face. She responded that seeing queer young people fighting every day makes her feel like we see a future for ourselves. Just four days prior, I was wrestling with a sermon about hope. I said to someone after that sermon, “I feel like I have too much to lose to be hopeful.” But then I thought about how I’ve been fighting for equity and justice for years. I thought about the way young people around the world have been fighting. Rep. Davids is right.
We’ve been fighting because we do see a future for ourselves.
We see a future where we are not only surviving but thriving.
We see a future paved by the elected and appointed officials at this conference. Even when that future seems far away, we are committed to demanding that future. How can you not be hopeful when you see that?
I’ve toyed with the idea of running for office for years, constantly changing my mind about whether that was what I was being called to do. One of the biggest things I appreciate about this conference and the Victory Institute is that there is a wholehearted belief that anyone can run for office. Vermont’s first transgender legislator told me directly, “We need you in that office. We need you to run.”
At the conference, I was talking with a former candidate for the Indiana House of Representatives about the struggles I had been facing this semester. She had a lot of great advice, but her parting words have stuck with me, “Thank you for being brave.” If anything, I thought she was the brave one. She had run for office, and I was just a law student that frequently had days I couldn’t even get out of bed. But, in the words of Mark Manson, “bravery is feeling the fear, the doubt, the insecurity, and deciding that something else is more important.” That’s why we do what we do. Whether it’s a law student talking to a law school administrator about how they need to better support and affirm queer students or the first openly trans man elected to U.S. state legislature talking about why he fights for his constituents, we advocate because equity and justice are more important than fear and insecurity. We do this work because advocacy saves lives. It saved mine.
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.
“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