Welcome to PFLAG St. Louis!
WHEN AND WHERE ARE PFLAG ST. LOUIS MEETINGS?
We meet the third Saturday of the month at the Holy Communion Episcopal Church, located (two blocks east of Hanley Road) at 7401 Delmar Boulevard, University City, Missouri 63130. The only time that changes is December when we have our annual holiday party. We send out invitations in late November with the party date. We begin our meetings at 7:00pm and usually end around 10:00pm. There is no need to call ahead unless you would like to talk to a parent first. In that case, call our HELPLINE at (314) 821-3524, leave a message, and your call will be returned.
WOULD YOU PREFER MEETING ONE ON ONE?
We would be happy to arrange a one on one meeting with one of our longtime parents if you feel you would be more comfortable than attending our regular meeting. Simply call our HELPLINE at (314) 821-3524, leave a message indicating you would prefer a private meeting, and one of our parents will return your call.
WHAT IS A PFLAG ST. LOUIS MEETING LIKE?
We know it takes a great deal of courage to walk in our door for the first time, so we make it a point to reach out to newcomers to make them feel comfortable. You are not required to give your name, join anything or pay anything. Our meetings vary, and we often have group discussions, a guest speaker, or watch a documentary DVD. New parents usually attend a separate support discussion group headed by one of our longtime members. This is done so that they can safely air their concerns in private. Understanding parents who have been there themselves lead all of our discussion groups. We then end the evening with a social gathering to meet everyone individually or look through our lending library of materials.
Since 1973 parents have joined together in different cities to support each other and their lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) children or family members. Our St. Louis chapter of PFLAG is one of the oldest in the country, founded in 1977 as St. Louis FLAG. The chapter co-founders were Art and Marian Wirth and Rod and Carolyn Griffin. Both families had gay children, and they desired a safe place where they could meet and discuss the feelings and emotions of a child coming out to their parents. They started meeting in each others homes, and when the group became larger, moved to a meeting room at Eliot Chapel in Kirkwood. BY 1981 the national organization was formed with the acronym PFLAG to include parents. Although members are mostly moms and dads, other supportive family members attend on a regular basis as well as friends who want to make a difference. LGBT community members also attend and appreciate the special acceptance of our caring parents. Everyone is welcome at PFLAG!
Parents often say they love and support their lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered children but do not feel any need to talk about this topic with others outside of the family. We believe that is only half the journey. It is not enough to tolerate or accept your child. We have learned to let go of our shame and celebrate the unique gifts our children bring to this world. Their sexual or gender orientation and the special people they love are part of that gift. We didn’t all feel that way in the beginning. But we have all grown from the open discussions at PFLAG meetings and learned from others we have met there. Where we end up on this journey of understanding is not where we started.
IS PFLAG ST. LOUIS UNIQUE?
We are one of more than 500 chapters across the United States and in eleven other countries around the world. We are located in small towns and big cities. There are also contact people where no chapter has yet been formed and members at large, not affiliated with a chapter. Visit the national PFLAG website at www.pflag.org for more information on chapters in other communities or starting your own chapter.
HOW DOES PFLAG ST. LOUIS PROVIDE SUPPORT?
We help parents and others who attend our meetings go through the process of understanding our loved ones and how society’s stigma has affected them and us. We learn to let go of the shame and discomfort by meeting other lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered individuals. We also meet parents who are totally comfortable with their LGBT children. We confront the lies and misinformation coming from a society that promotes the irrational fear called homophobia. We educate ourselves and show our pride by participating in public education forums and even marching in parades. We show by our actions that we embrace these special people that we love. We are there for all those just beginning their journey of understanding. We provide informational speakers to community groups, religious groups, schools and colleges. We have a telephone HELPLINE at (314) 821-3524, a lending library, a quarterly newsletter, e-mail postings, and of course, this website. All of these methods of communication help our members stay informed on news of interest in our community.