A Look Back as President
By: Judy Schmeling-Arnette
It has been almost 15 years since our eldest son
came out to my late husband Gene and me. Brad chose
Mother’s Day for this revelation! The PFLAG Family was
our mainstay to help us through those especially difficult
firsts that came with our coming out as parents.
When I continue to hear those tired anti-gay arguments,
the same old stereotypes, discouragement sets in.
Just Briefly. I have only to read in the Spring 2005 Cincinnati
PFLAG Newsletter to celebrate how far we have come
and how much we have accomplished. It was especially
moving to read the stories of past presidents and remember
their courage, perseverance, and friendship.
When Gene and I first came, quite timidly, to
PFLAG most of the current accomplishments where in their
infancy, with the vision, but not yet the fruition of today.
Our numbers were smaller, our budget much slimmer.
Those programs and ideas were improved, enhanced, promoted,
and supported by each successive term of talented
and dedicated officers, boards, committees, and members,
growing better and more effective each year.
Countless memories of PFLAG popup. (you’re
spared because space is limited!!) Making gallons of lemonade
for the PFLAG booth at the Dock, which followed the
early Pride Parades through mostly-empty downtown Cincinnati.
Our hearts glowed at the appreciation of those who
stopped by more to talk to a gay friendly Mom and Dad
than to buy lemonade.
Finally seeing PFLAG notices in the Enquirer, subsequent
publicity of our scholarship opportunities, and even
a photo now and then.
Being at the board meeting when we decided to
add the last names of the officers in the newsletter, previously
we were only identified by only first names. The PO
Box and the help line were the only two references. Take a
look at the current list full names, phone numbers and
email address, plus a local website!
Seeing more teenagers and their parents at our
meeting as the coming out age is lowered, and gay/straight
alliances were established. The BT was added to GL to
welcome GLBT families. Our advocacy grew in importance
with events such as Article XII, Matthew Shepherd’s tragic
death, and a stronger National PFLAG to help monitor issues
and legislation. All these brought new challenges for
information and support to our local chapter.
Lastly, I cannot forget, as can any of you, the heart
and greatest strength of PFLAG the time together at each
meeting when we can speak freely of the joys and heartaches
of your personal journeys. We may count members
or funds raised, but we will never know the far reaching
effect or influence of the words of empowerment, love, and
support shared in those magic circles of PFLAG.