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History of PFLAG Cincinnati

Highs and Lows, but Mostly Highs
By: Dorothy Byers

I was President of PFLAG Cincinnati from the fall of 2005 to the fall of 2007. PFLAG was active on many fronts during that period. Take for example the 2006 banquet “High Drama” featuring singer Jamie Anderson and coming-out stories from members of the Know Theatre Tribe. Jamie had a record crowd laughing; the stories had us crying. The new mayor Mark Mallory had us cheering, as he hinted at good news about to come from City Council. And former scholarship winner Derek Mize, law student and activist, inspired us to continue supporting students through the scholarship program. The successful banquet and donations from amazing friends and organizations such as the ISQCCBE led to the award of nine scholarships at our June scholarship meeting.

Movies pushed us to media highs, with the long run of Brokeback Mountain and the premier of the documentary Inlaws and Outlaws, sponsored locally by PFLAG at UC’s Main Street Cinema. Speakers at our meetings further enlightened us: Lisa Meeks spoke on cohabitation for gay couples as well as shared custody for gay couples with children, Cheryl Eagleson spoke on the difficulties of growing up gay in the decades before PFLAG, and Barry Floore explained the work of AVOC.

During the spring, writings of our own members (Jane Biddinger, Michael Cotrell, and Mark Byers) were proudly displayed at a Fitton Center for the Arts Exhibit “Facing Prejudice Every Day.” PFLAG was out and about. We participated in the Pride parade and had a booth. We participated in the Black Family Reunion. It seemed we were everywhere.

Throughout the second year, we continued to have great programs, featuring Mike Neubecker (PFLAG National Regional Directors Council Chair) and his wife Jan, Dan and Nancy Tepfer on marriage equality, and Marc Adams of Heartstrong Inc telling his story as the son of a conservative preacher.

It was a skeleton crew however that produced the banquet. The theme was “That’s Amore” and Chris Collier was the local singer who generously donated her talent. It was a successful event on all counts but we were exhausted, and the 15th annual banquet became the last. Those were soul-searching moments, deciding what to do about the banquet. It was such a great opportunity for the community to come together. Everyone looked forward to it. Perhaps it will return some day.

That year we still awarded five scholarships though, and were proud to have our founder Marian Weage as the Pride Grand Marshall. The scholarship program remained a core mission, in addition to providing basic support at our meetings. We decided to try a variety of fund-raising opportunities in lieu of the banquet, and also to seek new ways to reach out to the community in hopes of changing hearts and minds. Subsequent terms will tell that story!