PARENTS, FAMILIES AND FRIENDS ALLIED WITH THE LGBTQ COMMUNITY
Westwood's Guest Speaker Series:
Español So Cal
December 18, 2013 / 7:30 p.m.
Robert Paul Creator of Little Rainbow Comics
-— Bringing LGBTQ issues to the comic pages
One of Robert Paul's alter egos–six-year-old Zack–is talking to his Dad in the first box of panel. "Dad, I want you to know I'm gay." "Aren't you a little young to decide that?" his surprised father replies. "I suppose," says the bemused Zack. "How old were you when you knew you were straight?"
Little Rainbow Comics is Paul's brainchild. "The idea behind LRC is that gay people aren't born twenty-one years old. Gay adults were gay children, so why not tell stories from that perspective."
Part Calvin and Hobbs, part Charlie Brown, the three first-graders Zack, Stan, and Denisha allow their creator to take a tongue-in-cheek look at all kinds of life issues children face from the viewpoint of gay kids. The strip is set in a Mid-western suburb where the smarter-than-they-should-be kids are growing up.
While Paul hopes to make the reader laugh, his main goal is to raise awareness about gay youth and the damage thoughtless or hostile words can do to a young child. He knows something about hiding. He grew up in a Catholic household in a military family–a situation which "actually turned out okay." Moving frequently from place to place–as far away as Spain–he found solace in fantasy adventure stories and comics. After getting a business degree in college, he returned to his first love comic books and animation. While he pursues his as career as a freelancer, he made a decision to use his art to make the world a little safer for the real-life Stans, Zacks, and Denishas.
PFLAG Los Angeles is glad to welcome Robert Paul and his three witty offspring!
Robert was featured on GeekRoom.com
Previous 2013 Guest Speakers or Events
November 11, 2013 / 7:00 p.m.
PFLAG Los Angeles invites you and a guest to a special advance screening of Philomena.
Monday, November 11 at 7 p.m. in Los Angeles
October 16, 2013 / 7:30 p.m.
Dr. Sally Williams – Educational Psychologist and Author
- Committed to her Christian values, she created strategies for dealing with her son’s homosexuality
OMG My Child Is Gay is a book that should be read by all LBGT adolescents and their parents. Even though the author is extremely committed to her Christian values, she was able to create strategies for dealing with the shocking news about her son's homosexual orientation. Since she cherishes the natural bond with her son, as well as her religious beliefs, Dr. Williams decided to use her skills as a psychologist to recognize the interdependent nature of the relationship that parents have with their children. Thus, through her story, parents who read OMG My Child Is Gay are offered a reflection of themselves and will be inspired to preserve the connection with their child.
This book depicts the struggle between the hegemonic ideologies of politics and religion in heterosexual society and the counter hegemony that the LGBT community represents. Although OMG My Child Is Gay highlights the conflict between these two cultures, Dr. Williams' story offers a counterbalance that connects LGBT children and their parents into a new union, promoting reciprocal relations that are based on empathy. OMG My Child Is Gay serves as a hybrid amidst the homosexual child and parent, allowing both sides a brief respite to consider the prospect of developing an evolved and loving relationship with each other.
September, 18 2013 / 7:30 p.m.
Jonathan Skurnik: Documenting the lives of Transgender Youth
Jonathan Skurnik is passionate about injustice, prejudice and discrimination wherever it occurs. He has a special concern for the lives of transgender youth, so often misunderstood by family and society.
Through the Youth and Gender Media Project he has created a series of sensitive, moving documentaries exploring the lives of young people who don't fit into the established categories of male and female. I'm Just Anneke and Becoming Johanna explore the lives of two gender non-conforming youth as they find ways of being themselves. Creating Safe Schools profiles a California school that trained an entire community—students, teachers, parents, and staff—about inclusivity for gender non-conforming youth and their families.
Making his second appearance at PFLAG Los Angeles, Smurnik will be bringing us up to date on his latest work and insights into the complex and beautiful lives of transgender youth.
August, 21 2013 / 7:30 p.m.
Our August meeting will have two speakers and a slightly different formal. First we will hear from Taylor Field
about her research. Our support groups will begin at 8 p.m. and our second speaker, attorney Anthony Ross will
speak about 9:10 p.m. Don’t miss these two interesting, informative but unrelated speakers.
A Unique Approach to the Law- Anthony Ross, Attorney Attorney Anthony Ross has a unique approach to the law and legal problems. He believes in anticipating what individuals, entrepreneurs, businesses and especially LGBT people and their families might need in advance of a problem and setting up the legal structure to deal with it. Having taken a very unconventional path to becoming a lawyer, Tony knows firsthand what can happen to people who ignore a legal problem because they don’t want to spend the money. His law practice is aimed at building a relationship so that clients call him ahead of time not just when they are in the middle of a problem. Tony is not afraid to think about the unthinkable. He believes that anticipating issues and problems that people may prefer to ignore is the best approach. It may not be easy or pleasant but it may result in avoiding major problems later. You can find out more about this unusual attorney at anthonydross.com and you can register for a free LGBT report as well. His goal is to make the law work for his clients and to avoid problems that arise when you are ill prepared. Bring your questions to our meeting and feel free to ask them.Does it Get Better for Parents:
Parental Reactions to Children Coming Out- Taylor Field, Researcher Taylor Field, a student at Oberlin College in Ohio, will present her research interviewing some 60 parents from around the country about their responses on first learning that their child was gay or lesbian. She focused in her interviews on how the feelings and views of the parents have changed over time. Taylor has put a particular emphasis on transgender children as well as how fathers reacted to the sexual orientation of their children. Her study focused on how parents felt they should react. She answers the following questions: How does one progress from surprise and fear to acceptance and understanding? What is the coming out journey/transition of a parent? How are parent’s stories the same and how are they different, especially in recent years? How do parents look at themselves and judge their own reactions?
August 18, 2013
Speakers Appreciation Luncheon
July, 17 2013 / 7:30 p.m.
"Anything is Possible—Really!"
- A relationship that was against all odds.
PFLAG Los Angeles is proud to present Michelle Dennis and Robin Gurse Dennis share their story about how they found each other, fell in love, and got married.
Their relationship was so against the odds, yet here they are!
This quote from Robin sums it all up: "So, if a 65 year old bisexual, never-before-married Jewish woman, can meet, fall in love with and marry a 70 year old male-to-female transgender divorced Christian person, well then anything is possible!
Michelle is trained in transformtive and breakthrough coaching that enables people to create new lives for themselves. She is also a activist leading the transgender community to contribute and participate proudly in all aspects of society. Michelle is committed to creating courageous and empowering connections among all people.
Robin is a Certified family Coach, and workshop facilitator. Currently, she empowers teens and their families to create breakthroughs in designing new futures. She excels at motivating people to take action to fulfill their dreams. Robin is committed to clear, open, honest communication that empowers all parties.
June 19, 2013 / 7:30 p.m.
Two Spirit Persons
- Transgender Activist Michelle A. Enfield explains the evolution
and history of this traditional—and revolutionary—concept
Western Civilization seems to be hung up on binary thinking--happy versus sad, good versus bad, black versus white. And, of course, male versus female.
In other cultures, however, these divisions are not so rigid. Michelle A. Enfield, a transgender woman and an HIV prevention specialist at the Red Circle Project, has experienced both the intolerance of the West and the inclusiveness of Native American cultures.
Born on the Navaho reservation in Fort Defiance Arizona, she is a member of the Navajo Nation. From her earliest years, she felt different, wanting to be a girl and do all the things girls did, although she was anatomically a boy. Teased and tormented at school, she received the support of her family through those difficult years, until as a sophomore in high school, she saw a television talk show program featuring a beautiful transgender woman. Finally, she knew who she was. In 1997, she legally changed her name and began hormone replacement therapy.
Why did her family support her? Love is one powerful answer. Traditional Navaho culture is another. Enfield's family were helped to understand her by the Navaho belief that LGBT persons have important, healing energies. Many Native American cultures share the perception that LGBT persons bring spiritual and practical benefits to their community. At our June meeting, Enfield will describe the history and evolution of these beliefs.
Michelle Enfield is presently an HIV prevention training specialist with the Red Circle Project, an affiliate of AIDS Project Los Angeles. The Red Circle Project (RCP) at AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA) is the only HIV Prevention Program in Los Angeles County that specifically provides services to the Native American /Alaska Native Community. RCP provides culturally competent HIV/AIDS resources, referrals; group level interventions for Native Gay/Two Spirit men and Native transgender individuals; and mobile HIV testing to urban Native community at outreach events such as powwows and cultural events
June 8-9, 2013
L.A. PRIDE 2013
March with us on Sunday, June 9!
and join the Care with Pride Campaign promoting
respect and safe schools for all students.
May 15, 2013 / 7:30 p.m.
Does Coming Out Mean Leaving Your Faith Behind?
- NO!" Says retired pastor of Hollywood United Methodist Church Ed Hansen
He should know. He is both a gay man and the retired pastor of Hollywood United Methodist Church. He has walked the walk as well as talked the talk.
While not all of us are traditionally religious, we have all seen the devastation religion can wreck in the lives of LGBTQ persons—especially young persons. Ed Hansen has been one of those courageous religious leaders who has used his own life story to combat the harsh condemnations so many receive from the religious communities. He will speak to PFLAG Los Angeles about the special challenges in "coming out" for persons immersed in their faith—or for family members committed to a particular religion.
Traditional Christian teaching has condemned homosexual behavior and suggested that this behavior cuts one off from the love of God. The traditional teaching has not taken into account the realities of sexual orientation nor the possibility that homosexual behavior might be appropriate and life giving in the context of love and mutual respect.
Growing up as a gay person in such a negative environment has had devastating consequences for some conscientious young men and women. It has also led concerned parents to condemn and reject their own children when they refused to deny their sexual orientation. Some people have felt they had to abandon their faith in order to accept themselves for who they are. Ed Hansen’s own journey of coming to terms with being gay will speak to these realities and affirm that one’s faith can be a source of strength and empowerment along the way.
Rev. Ed Hansen is a retired United Methodist pastor who last served at Hollywood United Methodist Church in Hollywood, CA. He is a graduate of Claremont School of Theology with the Doctor of Religion degree and his dissertation was titled, “The Church’s Ministry with Homosexuals.”
At the 2010 regional Annual Conference of United Methodists, Dr. Hansen led the “Telling Our Stories” project in which United Methodist LGBTQ people and their loved ones shared their experiences. He began the presentations by telling his own story of being a gay man. He has served for 25 years as a leader for the Strength for the Journey retreat for persons living with HIV/AIDS and continues to work for and support efforts to overcome the stigma and fear that surround this disease. In January, 2013, he began serving a term as the president of the Gay Elder Circle of Los Angeles. Ed was married for 30 years and has two sons and one granddaughter.
April 17, 2013 / 7:30 p.m.
Why Faith Matters
- Rabbi Eleanor Steinman, Executive Director of California Faith For Equality
Whether we are personally religious or not, faith matters if you are LGBT or have an LGBT family member. Sometimes we have to deal with an earnest family member, friend or acquaintance who implores us to get "right" (in other words "straight) with God. Other times it's organized right-wing groups picketing with signs sporting messages of hate.
For some of us, reconciling our particular faith with our sexual orientation or our support for our LGBT family members is a painful challenge. For others, our faith is a motivation for our work in and with the LGBT community. For all of us, faith can be a challenge because faith matters.
Rabbi Eleanor Steinman, Executive Director of California Faith for Equality, will talk about the important role people of faith play in securing LGBT civil rights. She will show us how to have meaningful conversations with people from religious backgrounds. She'll encourage us to be open and confident–not only about our connection to the LGBT community but also about our faith itself.
Rabbi Steinman has always demonstrated a zeal for social justice and human rights equality. Immediately after graduating from Brandeis University with a BA, she participated in AVODAH, the Jewish Service Corps in New York City, working at the grassroots level for social change. Finding her faith essential to her work, she enrolled at the Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles, receiving a Master of Hebrew Letters degree in 2006 and rabbinic ordination in 2008. After service in various local congregations and in Canada, she returned to Los Angeles to earn her Masters Degree in Jewish education.
A passionate and engaging speaker, she will encourage all of us–religious or not–to speak without fear for LGBT rights, grounding our action on principles of justice and compassion.
March 20, 2013 / 7:30 p.m.
Working for Safety, peace and justice in Los Angeles Schools
- Earl Perkins, Assistant Superintendent of School Operations for LAUSD
The Los Angeles Unified School District enrolls more than half a million children and close to a million people in its programs on 1,235 schools and centers. Earl Perkins is charged with making these schools safe and welcoming for all.
This is no small task. Los Angeles is one of the most diverse cities in the world. It's residents come from more than 140 countries and speak 224 languages. Children enter school bringing with them issues of race, ethnicity, language, history, and socio-economic background, not to mention sexual orientation and gender identity.
The Office of Human Relations, Diversity, and Equity, which Perkins oversees, is charged with "fostering a safe and respectful District, school and community culture where the seeds of peace and justice are sown." While LAUSD has one of the most enlightened and aggressive policies protecting LGBT and other students, implementing those policies is Perkins job.
His work is more than just a career--it's a calling. An African American, Perkins has LGBT family members. He knows personally the toll that discrimination, harassment, and bullying can take whether they come from students, faculty and staff or administrators. Providing resources (over 40 available on LGBT issues alone), overseeing programs, intervening in problem areas, adjudicating disputes are just some of the tasks he and his dedicated staff perform.
At our March meeting, he'll talk about his job, and the ways in which all of us as individuals can support a climate of safety in schools. It's a must see program for parents and LGBT supporters. Come and meet this extraordinary man.
February 20, 2013 / 7:30 p.m.
Director Victor Bumbalo Presents "Two Boys"
- An award winning film about a mother and her gay son dealing with tragedy
Suicide devastates survivors. When the person who kills themselves is young, the questions and anguish are even more intense. Victor Bumbalo's short film "Two Boys" deals with the grief of a youth whose best friend has taken his own life. It is an intimate and powerful look at a mother and gay son coming to terms with the unthinkable.
The film has won several awards at film festivals, including a Jury Prize for Best Drama at the Beverly Hills Short Film Festival. Bumbalo was named Best Director at the ITN Film Festival at Raleigh Studios in Los Angeles. After the screening, he will answer questions about the conception and making of the film.
Victor Bumbalo is an award winning playwright whose work has been produced worldwide. His plays include Niagara Falls, Adam and the Experts, and What Are Tuesdays Like. He has written for many movies of the week and television shows, including NYPD Blue, American Gothic, Relativity, and HBO's Spawn.
Bumbalo has been active in LGBT causes since he became one of the original members of the Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC) in New York City. For five years he headed a team of volunteers who cared for people with AIDS. He is also a Zen priest, having been ordained in 2004. He serves at the International Buddhist Meditation Center in Los Angeles.
Come and see this beautiful film that radiates compassion and loving kindness.
January 16, 2013 / 7:30 p.m.
From Hollywood to Dollywood
– Twins Gary and Larry Lane tell the story of their documentary and their lives
How far do you have to go to find acceptance, love, and success in the movies? For Larry and Gary Lane the journey was from Hollywood to Dollywood.
The two gay, identical twin brothers will be describing their journey from the idea–write a screenplay about Dolly Parton and travel to Tennessee deliver it–to the fulfillment of their somewhat zany dream.
The Lane brothers grew up in Goldsboro, North Carolina–not the safest place to come of age with the realization that you are gay. Music helped–especially Dolly Parton's songs. Gary and Larry always thought she was amazing. And she represented for them a kind of warm and open acceptance that wasn't always so easy to get in their loving but somewhat strict Baptist family. That history was the seed of the screenplay.
Their documentary from Hollywood to Dollywood traces the project from its beginning to the final fruition. The amazingly successful film has won 25 Best Documentary awards on the film festival circuit, and earned them appearances on programs such as the Rosie O'Donnell and Ellen DeGeneres shows.
In addition the Lane brothers are appearing at college campuses throughout the country in the Acceptance and Inclusion Tour with people like Chad Allen and Leslie Jordan, spreading the message of tolerance, acceptance, and celebration.
If that isn't enough, Larry and Gary have appeared on both Wipeout and Fear Factor and won both. The courage, humor, and survival skills they demonstrated there show up in abundance as they talk about their personal and professional journeys.
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