PARENTS, FAMILIES AND FRIENDS ALLIED WITH THE LGBTQ COMMUNITY
Westwood's Guest Speaker Series:
Español So Cal
December 17, 2008 / 7:30 p.m.
– Surviving the Religious Right
The bruising fight against Proposition 8 showed all of us the lies and vitriol that conservative religious organizations use against LGBT people. In over 28,000 schools around the country and millions of churches, this withering attack is turned on children. Sitting in pews and classrooms, young children, who know they are different and teenagers just coming to an awareness of their sexual orientation or gender identity are taught that there is something terribly wrong with them. They suffer. They hide. They are outted by their friends and classmates, exposed to their parents, expelled from school, subjected to reparative therapy. They spend fruitless years trying to be straight. Much too often, they kill themselves.
Marc Adams was one of those youngsters. He survived. He escaped both the physical confines of his parents’ fundamentalist home and Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University. Then, in spiritual journey documented in his book (lost)Found, he made his way to self-acceptance.
Since then, he has spent his life helping other lost and alone young people to make the same escape. In year 1998, he started the non-profit organization HeartStrong, Inc. to help gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered students from religious educational institutions (grade school through graduate school). The outreach team, spearheaded by Marc, has driven over 350,000 to spread his message of hope.
A seasoned fighter against cruelty, bigotry, and homophobia, Marc will tell us how to support LGBT youth trapped in religious schools and how to combat effectively the religious right in our own neighborhoods.
November 19, 2008 / 7:30 p.m.
Dr. Adam Fingerhut
– Straight Privilege? Or How Does it Feel to Be a Minority?
If you’re gay or lesbian, you have to think twice about a lot of everyday things. Should you hold your partner’s hand in public? Is it safe to put your wedding picture on your desk at work? Do you have to hide your sexual orientation to have an active role in your church?
Dr. Adam Fingerhut will talk about the toll that many large and small accommodations take on LGBT individuals and their families. Dr. Fingerhut uses a variety of research methods including experiments, surveys and daily diaries to examine the interplay between majority and minority groups. His research addresses two broad questions: 1) How are minority group members affected by their minority identity and social status; and 2) What factors affect how majority group members perceive and interact with individuals from minority social groups?
Part of the good news he has to bring us, is that this research is now mainstream. A member of the psychology department at Loyola Marymount University, a Catholic institution, Fingerhut’s research has been supported by The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), The Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI) and The Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy.
How are things changing? What impact has marriage equality and the fight over Proposition 8 had on the relationship between LGBT individuals and the majority of Californians? How does it feel to be a gay man teaching in a Catholic institution? Round up your questions and come to hear Dr. Adam Fingerhut. He has important information for every LGBT person, and the people who love them.
October 15, 2008 / 7:30p.m.
– Calling All Families!
PFLAG is about families. Our families include LGBT persons of all ages from children to seniors. They are about sons, daughters, spouses, partners, grandchildren, in-laws, and extended family. In this crucible where ages, stages, and personalities mix, all kinds of issues arise and all kinds of emotions surface.
Our October guest speaker, Curt Shephard is used to dealing with the wonderful complexities of families. He is the Director of Children, Youth, and Family Services at the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center. As the former Director of Government Relations for the Center, he also knows how legislation affects our families. Curt has worked extensively with teenagers and young adults, as director of the Campus Organizing Project of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
So round up your questions. Whatever kind of a family you come from; wherever you are on your journey as parent or child, Curt will have suggestions for you and introduce all of us to the resources the Gay and Lesbian Center provides for families
For more information on the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center go to: www.LAGLC.com
September 17, 2008 / 7:30p.m.
Calpernia Addams Rocks PFLAG LA
– Famed Artist, Transgender Activist, Musician and Author
Calpernia Addams Speaks about Love, Life, and Equality.
The sixty people waiting for Calpernia Addams at PLAG LA’s September meeting were expecting beauty, energy, and wit. They got even more—honesty, vulnerability, and a gentle femininity that was more than skin deep. Dressed in a simple gauze top and jeans, the red-headed actress told the story of her life to a group including young people from Lifeworks Mentoring, who hung on her every word.
She described growing up in rural Tennessee in a family so religious that the wearing of wedding rings was considered “vanity.” At an early age Calpernia felt a disconnect between her feminine spirit and her boy’s body, a difference she was forced to accept: “I knew that I could grow wings more easily than I could be a girl. It wasn’t going to happen.”
The military gave her a way out of Tennessee. Recruiters told her she could choose any career she wanted, and she asked to be a nurse. After several years in the Navy/Marines, she resigned in order to get on with what she thought would be her life as a gay man.
It was in Nashville’s LGBT community, that she realized she wasn’t gay but transgender, and took the first steps in a long journey to womanhood. When asked how she began, she said, “Makeup. It’s external. It’s inexpensive, and it’s fun to play with.” She described a life of continual learning—how to style her hair, how to apply eye make up, how to choose clothing. Although these activities were exciting, they were also dangerous: “You don’t always get it right, and people can be very cruel.”
There were also physical changes to make—electrolysis on unwanted facial hair, testosterone suppressing drugs, estrogen, surgeries. Transgender women helped her through all these experiences. Perhaps the hardest part of the transition was learning the culture of womanhood. Just as an American emigrant to another country has to learn the unwritten rules of behavior and the unspoken clues to situations, Calpernia had to learn how to respond as a woman.
In spite of all the difficulties she has encounter, including the tragic killing of her beloved boyfriend, she was upbeat and positive. She emphasized the warmth of family life in her childhood, rather than the restrictiveness of the religious sect. When asked about her female role models, she described her mother and aunts: “Strong, unadorned women. Feminine without accoutrements.” Although her family does not accept her transition, and still uses her childhood name, they remain in touch, and she sees them at least once a year, “for some good Southern cooking.”
She talked candidly about dating, answering questions about how and when she tells her dates about her transition, and how she avoids dangerous situations. She talked about dealing with moments of depression and self-doubt: “When you look in the mirror and see all the flaws.”
As she talked about her life and answered questions, she repeatedly emphasized the need for all of us—LGBT and straight, parents, children, allies, young and old—to concentrate on being healthy--physically, mentally, and emotionally. The health that she’s worked so hard to achieve radiates from Calpernia Addams and warmed us all.
For more information on Calpernia Addams go to www.Calpernia.com
Checkout Calpenia’s video diary click here.
Wednesday, August 20th / 7:30 p.m.
– Leaders From Friends of Project 10 Talk About The Transformative Models of Pride Event
Remember being a teenager? Remember being afraid that you wouldn’t fit in? For young people coming to awareness of their LGBTQ identity, the normal anxieties of adolescence are magnified. At the Models of Pride Conference, LGBTQ youth can fit in, stand out, and look forward to a bright future. Whether you’re a parent, a young person, or a former kid, PFLAG LA’s August presentation is a must.
On November 1st, the campus of Occidental College becomes a rainbow festival, celebrating gay youth. Free to all young people from 14 to 23, the conference is filled with workshops, entertainment, a resource faire, food, networking opportunities, live music, and a dance party finale! All aspects of the event focus on the interests, needs, and tastes of LGBTQ youth, their families, and allies.
The only one of its kind, Models of Pride was created by Friends of Project 10 Inc. in 1993 as a means of providing a safe and positive environment where LGBTQ youths could be themselves, network with each other, and expose themselves to new ideas. Conference programs include a wide variety of workshops covering such topics as dating, coming out, stereotyping, student activism, cultural and religious issues, healthcare issues, and much more.
Formed to support the Los Angeles Unified School District program Project 10, Friends of Project 10 Inc. was created in 1986 as a nonprofit (501c3) to raise private funds for events such as the Models of Pride Conference, Models of Excellence Scholarship Program, and LGBT Youth Prom.
Lance Webster, Colette Perkins and Mel Schwartz from the Models of Pride Advisory Board will share with us ways in which all of us—whatever our age, sexual orientation, or gender identity—can support, promote, and enjoy the Models of Pride event.
For more information on Models of Pride go to www.ModelsOfPride.org
July 16, 2008 / 7:30 p.m.
A Cure for the Summertime Blues
– Author Tom Froehlich presents “Dancing with Your Demons:
Just Make Sure You Lead the Second Time Around”
If you weren’t even in the running for prom queen, or basketball MVP, if you can’t get into a speedo, or think a BlackBerry is something to eat, this event is for you. Gay or straight, the experience of not quite fitting in is a common one. With humor and compassion, motivational speaker Tom Froehlich shows that even our most oppressive experiences hold the key to a rich and fulfilled life.
Much to his surprise, Tom Froehlich grew up gay in a conservative Midwestern town. His experiences trying to fit in, trying to hide, trying to adapt, led him down many interesting career paths. He has been a graphic designer, writer, owned and operated a pottery studio, bartended, traveled the world buying beautiful things with someone else’s money, and taught art and math to kindergarteners. His is the co-creator of the inspirational book, “101 Suggestions for Better Living”, and has recently completed his book of inspirational and humorous essays, “It Happened Along the Way”.
Whether you grew up poor, fat, gay, red haired, too tall or too skinny, Tom’s insight and witticisms will help you revisit the tired old demons of the past, leave them behind and move forward. He encourages you to not only accept your differences, but celebrate them as these are the things that make you uniquely you.
July 11, 2008 / 7:00 pm and July 19, 2008 / 11:30 am
–Don’t break the rules, change them!
PFLAG LA is the Community Partner for this film at
Friday, July 11, 7:00 pm and
Saturday, July 19, 11:30 am
Fairfax: Regency / Fairfax Theatre #1
7907 Beverly Blvd.,
Hollywood, CA 90048
Much to the consternation of his Catholic school, young Joshua (Lurie Poston) wants to be a cheerleader and enjoys dressing like Maria von Trapp. His mom (Carrie Preston) has her hands full as the assistant to a local TV personality, but with the help of an understanding uncle (John G. Preston) and a very tasteful neighbor (Michael Emerson, “Lost”), Joshua is determined to high-kick and cartwheel with the best of them in this charming comedy.
June 18, 2008 / 7:30 pm.
What Do You Know About Outfest?
– Outfest’s Volunteer Coordinator Nicole Suell previews
some of the exciting new films screening at Outfest this July.
Did you know that it is the oldest film festival in Los Angeles history (having run for 25 years)? Did you know that the organization focuses both on making a place for new films documenting the LGBT experience and on preserving historic LGBT films? Did you know that part of the Outfest experience is meeting film makers and hearing about their experiences?
Whether you’ve regularly attended Outfest, or you are completely unfamiliar with this popular LGBT event, you’ll learn something new from our June 18th Speaker, Nicole Suell.
Nicole thinks Outfest is “Magic.” She should be a good judge. There has been plenty of magic in her life. She studied Music Education at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, becoming both an accomplished musician and a Behavioral Psychology Counselor, focusing on mental health. In her professional life, she is a lead teacher and case manager for The Children’s AIDS Program.
Speaking about Outfest, Nicole says: “My passion for the community and arts have led me to Outfest as a volunteer in 2007, and this year as Volunteer Coordinator for Outfest’s July Gay and Lesbian film festival. I’m looking forward to sharing my enthusiasm for this wonderful event with PFLAG LA.”
For more information on Outfest go to www.outfest.org.
May 21, 2008 / 7:30 p.m.
Wake Up Campaign!
– Speaker Ray Jennings Roberson describe his efforts to start a dialogue
between religious congregations and the LGBT community.
Religion, which calls itself “the Good News,” is frequently very bad news for LGBT persons and their families. Kids are thrown out of the house, committed couples are denied civil rights, LGBT individuals’ lives are threatened, all in the name of “righteousness.” Does it have to be this way?
Our next speaker, Ray Jennings Roberson, doesn’t think so. He is spending time, energy, and a lot of his own resources to launch the WAKE UP Campaign, to establish dialogue between religious organizations and the LGBT community right here in Los Angeles.
Roberson believes that the increasingly bitter culture wars need a “demilitarized zone.” In this safe space, silenced, rejected LGBT persons can speak the truth about their lives, and religious communities can listen with respect and empathy.
Roberson asks: “How can change occur when people are at constant war with one another? Not until we create a place in which opinions and beliefs can be taken into consideration and valued, not until we approach our bothers and sisters with an open heart and an attentive ear will the age-old walls of separation come crumbling down. This campaign will use faith, hope, love and forgiveness as vehicles to gain a deeper sense of understanding and openness toward one another.”
Come hear him talk about the preliminary work that has already been done, and learn about the exciting conference scheduled for June 20 and 21. Find out how you can be a part of the dialogue.
For more information on Ray and the Wake Up Campaign go to www.wakeupcampaign.org.
May 7, 2008 / 7:30-9:30 pm.
Anyone and Everyone
– Exciting new documentary tells the unique stories of several families with a gay son or daughter.
KPBS has announced the release of a new documentary titled Anyone and Everyone. The film tells the stories of families from across the United States who are all connected by having a son or daughter who is gay. This poignant and often heart wrenching documentary by first-time local filmmaker Susan Polis Schutz reveals families struggles and desires to accept a child’s sexual orientation.
The film features families from a diverse range of religious and cultural backgrounds such as Japanese, Bolivian, Cherokee, Mormon, Jewish, Catholic and Hindu. These parents share intimate accounts of their experiences when their children reveled to them that they were gay. While some showed unconditional support, many struggled with their child’s sexual orientation, fearing alienation from their extended family, their church or their community. The driving point of the documentary is that the families featured really could be “anyone and everyone.” The issues in this film do not discriminate, as it shows families with gay children that come from all classes, races and religions, yet all experience similar emotions and struggles.
Anyone and Everyone is supported by community outreach both locally and nationally. KPBS is teaming with The Trevor Project and the Regent Showcase Theatre to hold a screening and community discussion of Anyone and Everyone on Wednesday, May 7th from 7:30-9:30 pm. The Regent Showcase Theatre is located at 614 N. La Brea Ave. Los Angeles, CA. 90036. This event is free and open to the public.
In addition to local outreach, KPBS has partnered with several national organizations to plan screenings across the country. The national partners include: The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), Human Rights Campaign (HRC), Soul Force, The Trevor Project, Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) Gay and Lesbian Task Force and True Colors, Inc.
April 16, 2008 / 7:30 p.m.
Living With HIV
– Pharmacist Becky Kolodchak, Specialist in HIV Drug Therapies
What do you know about HIV? In the more than 25 years since the virus was officially recognized, HIV/AIDS has gone from front page news to an occasional article in the health section. Did you know that women are being infected at a greater rate than men, not only in the developing world but in the United States as well? Did you know that African American and Hispanic populations are most at risk? Is HIV/AIDS now a chronic disease? What treatments are available? How much do they help? What quality of life do people with HIV experience? Is there a vaccine on the horizon?
The answers to these questions are important to all of us, whether we’re gay or straight, male or female. Everyone who is sexual active may be at risk. Come to our April 16th meeting and learn what to tell your gay and straight children, family and friends about the disease that we all, in one way or another, live with.
With ten years experience specializing in HIV drug therapies, Becky Kolodchak will discuss the latest in HIV prevention, diagnosis and treatment, describing recent advances and promising developments.
The discussion and question answer segment of our meeting will be followed by our regular “rap” groups where people can share concerns, questions and understanding about sexual orientation with trained facilitators. These groups are confidential and open to everyone interested in exploring the issues raised for them and their families by sexual and gender differences.
March 19. 2008 / 7 p.m.
For the Bible Tells Me So
– “Enlightening, heart-wrenching and uplifting. Grade: A- !”
PFLAG LA, will show the award winning documentary film
The film explores popular misconceptions of the Bible’s attitude toward homosexuality and shows how religious families reconcile faith and acceptance of their gay children.
The movie will be followed by our regular “rap” groups where people can share concerns, questions and understanding about sexual orientation with trained facilitators. These groups are confidential and open to everyone interested in exploring the issues raised for them and their families by sexual and gender differences.
February 20, 2008 / 7:30 p.m.
George Takei -
– Where Few Have Gone Before: Coming Out in Hollywood and the Asian American Community
The first person George Takei met on his recent speaking engagement at PFLAG LA was Barry Mason, a PFLAG Dad, who said: “I used to make you disappear.” It was Mason, in his first job out of film school, not Scotty, who had helped to produce the famous “beaming up” special effect. A delighted Takei and his partner Brad proceeded upstairs to find not just an audience, but a room full of friends.
His response was generous and joyful. Neither shy nor aloof, he mingled with the audience members, fully engaged in listening to their stories and responding out of his own experience. Used to an audience of thousands at Star Trek conventions, he held the 85 people in the room enthralled as he talked with great candor about his own difficult journey as a Japanese American, gay man.
A pivotal event in his life occurred when he was eight years old. American troops came to his home to force his family into a waiting truck bound for the stables of Santa Anita, the first stop on the way to an internment camp in the swamp land of Alabama. Listeners gasped as he told of soldiers with fixed bayonets striping his family of their home, their business, and, except for a couple of suitcases, their possessions. As a close observer of his parents’ humiliation and pain, he made up his mind never to cause them shame, always to make them proud.
When he returned to school, he was tormented because of his ethnicity and described to the horrified audience a disparaging teacher who referred to him as: “that little Jap boy.” He kept his difficulties to himself to protect his parents. Gradually, he came to realize that there was another difference between him and his classmates: he was gay. His sense of isolation was profound. Speaking to the young gay men and women in the audience, he recounted how difficult it was to be gay in a world with no PFLAG, no Gay/Straight Alliances.
Both unwilling and unable to downplay his Japanese American identity, he could and did hide his sexual orientation. That is, until he met his partner Brad, and proudly took him to cast parties, get-togethers with other actors, and, most important of all, home. PFLAG parents and children sympathized with his story of a dismayed mother, who grew ever more attached to her son and his partner, spending her final years cared for by both in their home. All in the audience were stirred by Takei’s story of coming out to the press to protest Governor Schwarzenegger’s veto of the legislation legalizing gay marriage in 2005.
Despite, or perhaps because, of the difficulties he has endured, George Takei is passionate about democracy, speaking out not only on the subject of marriage equality, but also testifying before the Congress of the United States about the internment experience and the need for reparations to the Japanese Americans who suffered it. He described an America that, over time, has grown more inclusive and more just. He concluded by urging each member of the audience, particularly the younger listeners, to work to make the United States more true to the ideals of its founding documents.
This emotional and unexpectedly intimate talk engaged everyone in the audience on a personal level, a connection that spilled out in the question and answer period and persisted after the formal program was over. People crowded around Takei, welcoming him, thanking him. He generously took time with each and everyone, answering questions, posing for photographs, and signing the occasional autograph. His partner, observing the warm interactions between Takei and the PFLAG audience said, “George is enjoying himself. He feels at home here.