PFLAG Westminster Meetings
When and where are your meetings?
PFLAG meets regularly on the 3rd Sunday of each month from 5 to 7 PM (with the exception of the months of June, July & August) at St. Paul's United Church of Christ on the corner of Bond & Green Streets in Westminster. Ample parking is available, in church parking lot, on street, and in BB&T Bank parking lot beside the church.
Do I have to make an appointment or let someone know that I am coming?
No. You can simply attend the meeting at St. Paul’s United Church of Christ here in Westminster. If you wish, you are welcome to contact our helpline at 410-861-0488 and leave a message and someone will respond to your inquiry.
Who can come to a meeting?
Anyone and everyone, including friends, come for different reasons. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, “queer” or questioning persons (LGBTQ) and their family members may first come to a PFLAG meeting because they are dealing with personal issues and need support, resources or a listening ear. Sometimes LGBTQ persons and family members attend to support other parents adjusting to the news that their child is LGBTQ. Transgender persons or their family members may have somewhat different issues, but whoever needs support and greater understanding about gender identity or expression and sexual orientation is welcome. Straight persons who consider themselves allies and care about fairness for LGBTQ’s are warmly welcomed.
There is a support for spouses of LGBTQ persons whose needs are often different through contacts on the National PFLAG website. They need help with personal issues that have permanently changed their family life.
Straight persons come to meetings because they simply want to help the LGBTQ rights movement or they want to help a friend who is LGBTQ or they are curious about how to handle LGBTQ issues that face today’s society. Some people attend PFLAG just to learn how to stand up for the rights of LGBTQ persons or just because they are curious about doing more to support LGBTQ persons. There are many different types of people who come and all are welcome. You always have a home in PFLAG. You can count on it.
Who attends these meetings?
People come from various backgrounds, occupations, and different age groups.
Many, but not all, have gone through similar experiences of struggling about being LGBTQ or a parent or family member of an LGBTQ loved one. Some 48% of our chapter members are LGBTQ and 52% are family or friends. Although people may first come to PFLAG to share personal stories, most of our members say that the educational programming is what brings them back to meetings. Others come to PFLAG to become activists to work for equality, safety and fairness for LGBTQ persons.
Do I need a reason to attend a PFLAG meeting?
No. You do not have to have a pressing crisis or have to be associated with anyone in the gay community. You can simply come. We welcome allies who may not be LGBTQ or have a family member who is, but they believe in social justice and want to act on that value.
What usually takes place at a meeting?
Confidentiality is stressed at PFLAG chapter meetings Whatever is shared in meetings is expected to be held in strictest confidence. Our meeting programs are open all. We are always available for a breakaway support group should an attendee express a need. Simple refreshments are served. We share announcements of upcoming events, followed by a program which may be a panel, a guest speaker, a film or other means to address a variety of LGBTQ topics. Programs are followed by time for discussion and questions.
I am really not comfortable with large groups. Is there any way I can meet PFLAG members without having to go to meetings?
If you prefer a private meeting with someone who has been through a similar situation, you can contact our PFLAG helpline and request to meet for “coffee and conversation,” someone from PFLAG who can listen to you and offer empathic support. We would be happy to arrange this for you. Also, people have brought their friend or someone else they trust to accompany them to a PFLAG meeting. We welcome anyone who walks through the PFLAG door.
What do people talk about at meetings?
PFLAG members talk about all sorts of topics. Some share the news that their LGBTQ child has told other members of their family of his/her sexuality or gender variance and we all celebrate that courage to be honest about who he/she is. Some members talk about the struggles their spouse or other relatives have with accepting their LGBTQ child. Some members talk about how difficult it is to hear gay jokes. Some members talk about a news story or a political event that was unfavorable to gays and we gather information to educate ourselves about current LGBTQ events.
I’ve heard that PFLAG meetings consist of mothers who sob about their child being gay. Is this true?
Although we do make sure we take time to support those who are experiencing struggles, we also take time to celebrate our loved ones. Sometimes tears are a first step in the process of moving toward acceptance. There is usually a process for parents and family members similar to Kubler-Ross’s “death and dying” steps. Parents who never anticipated their child could be gay are first shocked and in denial, followed by sadness and blame. They can choose to stay stuck there or move to expand their understanding by learning more about what it means to be gay. Once on that path, they move to acceptance and eventually can even discover pride and move into advocacy. Some parents move immediately into actively working to make our society more accepting.