Welcome to PFLAG Westminster - Carroll County, Maryland

PFLAG Westminster – Carroll County, Maryland Chapter

Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays - Moving Equality Forward
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Winchester, Virginia, is a small and beautiful area near Washington, DC. There a PFLAG chapter works to make a difference in the struggle for LGBT equality.

I and my husband, Graham,  had the pleasure http://edu-review.com/ of visiting this PFLAG chapter and members of the church where they meet on Sunday, March 20th.  I was excited at the prospect of meeting  Rabbi David Horowitz, president of National PFLAG.  I was not disappointed.   He delivered a most  inspiring sermon to an overflow crowd gathered for services at the Unitarian Universlist Chuch of the Shenandoah Valley.  Many stayed for a potluck lunch and to continue the conversation. Perhaps the highlight of the day, for me,  was the meeting with members of PFLAG Winchester where Rabbi Horowitz was the honored guest. He led us in a discussion  of  how together we can – local chapter and national PFLAG – continue to provide support, education, and advocacy for our LGBT members, families, and friends.

Rabbi Horowitz pointed out the fact that we are no longer your parents’ or grandparents’ PFLAG.   In the 1970’s PFLAG began  basically as a support group.   We PFLAG folks will  always continue to tell our stories and offer support wherever and whenever we are needed.  That’s one of the things we do best !

However,  times are changing.  We’re way past that, basic ‘PFLAG-101’ model.   It’s time for us to move on to “PFLAG 201” with increased focus on education and advocacy. Some groups such as “Focus on the Family”  spread dangerous misinformation about our families and community.  It’s time for us to join together in  raising  our own voices…. LOUDER…..  that those other negative voices  to tell the world that PFLAG truly understands what family values are all about. We must actively enlist the support of our friends, our families, our community to join us in making the country a safe and just place for all families.

Rabbi Horowitz told us that he’d written a letter to his circle of friends and family saying,   I need you…….”  and he received many affirmative responses

essentially saying, “We had no idea.  Of course, we’ll help. “

I think I’ll start working on such a letter of my own.  Perhaps it’s time to raise awareness by simply asking.     It certainly couldn’t hurt.

June with David Horowitz, president of National PFLAG

 

Here’s the article that appeared in newspaper, the Winchester Star, on Monday morning:

‘We tell our stories so gay people know parents can change’


March 21, 2011

By Adam Van Hart

The Winchester Star


 

Rabbi David M. Horowitz, national chairman of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, speaks Sunday evening at a meeting of the local chapter held at the Unitarian Universalist Church.

WINCHESTER– It wasn’t that Rabbi David M. Horowitz had to face the truth about his reaction to his daughter telling him she was a lesbian. He just had to discuss it in a room full of strangers.

“I was a real liberal on this – until my daughter came out. I was still a liberal, just not for my daughter,” said the Akron, Ohio-based rabbi.

It may have been difficult for Horowitz and his wife to deal with his daughter’s news 20 years ago, but his story came out easily Sunday night.

The rabbi, now the national chairman of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, spoke to the local PFLAG chapter gathered at the Unitarian Universalist Church on U.S. 11 south of Stephens City.

Despite the two decades that have passed since his daughter came out, the rabbi’s story isn’t any less relevant.

Confiding with the group that Wendy, at one point, feared she lost the support of her family, Horowitz reminded the people there that the group’s goal was to keep children from experiencing that fear and bring families closer.

“We tell our stories so gay people know parents can change,” Horowitz said.

Although providing that support is the main goal, it isn’t the only goal the group stresses.

There is also the change in society that PFLAG is aiming to achieve.

For Horowitz, tolerance and acceptance are not enough.

“Tolerance just says, ‘I’m not going to shoot you,'” Horowitz said.

The ultimate goal is celebrating the loving relationships many homosexuals, including his daughter, have.

To effect that change, Horowitz was adamant about becoming more involved in the faith communities.

It’s not surprising given Horowitz’s rabbinical position, and chapters often meet in churches.

“We have to be in the faith community, it’s the only logical opposition,” Horowitz said.

He dismisses the idea of trying to change groups like the Westboro Baptist Church, which has become infamous for protesting military funerals and using anti-gay rhetoric.

But for all the talk about what has to be done by PFLAG, the onus was put on the local chapters.

“We need you to be a voice in your community,” Horowitz said.

Those voices were in the crowd with their own stories.

Tonja Hewlett, 41, came six years ago while she was married with a daughter.

“Most people are uneducated and don’t know what to say or how to act,” Hewlett said.

She was married last November to her partner Holly at the Unitarian church. Their marriage certificate is from Vermont, but Virginia does not recognize it.

So far, she said she has not encountered homophobia at her U.S. Postal Service job.

There aren’t always such positive outcomes.

Speaking about the failures, one of the chapter’s originators, Mark Lore, expressed the pain of families struggling with having a gay member.

“It’s frustrating. The whole purpose of this group is to bring families together because it can tear families up,” Lore said.

Lore, along with his wife Sandy, helped organize the chapter a decade ago.

Several of the younger attendees had similar stories.

After saying they did not want their full names printed, they discussed the difficulties they encountered growing up gay.

Amelia, a 17-year-old high school student who is bisexual, told her mom but not her dad, after her mother said never to do so.

“I don’t think I will while I’m under 18,” she said.

For Megan, her mother has come out to her as a lesbian. But like Amelia, her father doesn’t know. Since then, Megan said, she and her mother have grown closer.

In the end, however, despite the difficulties homosexuals face daily, Horowitz had a positive message for the group about where the debate is going in America.

“We are winning,” Horowitz said.

Contact PFLAG Winchester/Lower Shenandoah Valley at pflag@verizon.net or 540-678-0963.

– Contact Adam Van Hart at
avanhart@winchesterstar.com

 

 

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