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December 16, 2009 / 7:30 p.m.

Open Your Hearts and Hold Out Your Hands to LGBT Family Members

                          - Rabbi Lisa Edwards of Temple Beth Chayim Chadashim


“You must not seek vengeance, nor bear a grudge against the children of your people.” [Leviticus 19:18]


In the book of Leviticus, which is so often used to bash LGBT persons, Rabbi Lisa Edwards finds injunctions that support and protect them. No stranger to homophobia disguised as religion she has made Temple Beth Chayim Chadashim a place of hope, inclusion, and celebration.


Rabbi Edwards is the leader of the world’s first gay and lesbian synagogue. She has seen the harm done to LGBT individuals when discrimination is preached by religious authorities and practiced by families and communities of faith.


In a commentary on a Torah portion in the Los Angeles Jewish Journal, she reminds us all of that LGBT individuals, particularly children, are often the needy among us.   “LGBT youth, and those questioning their orientations, may not be accustomed to very much [support].” How can we help? “Parents who talk to their children, who ask their children about themselves, who lovingly inquire who their children are..., and who accept — even embrace — their children, no matter the answers to their questions, could go a long way toward offering their children an open hand and an open heart.”


Ordained by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) in 1994, Rabbi Edwards brings a profound love of study and a passion for the written word to her sermons and the Torah commentary that she write as a guest columnist in the Jewish Journal, the second-largest circulation Jewish publication in the U.S. Most of all, she is known as a Rabbi who knows the struggles of her congregation and speaks to their hearts.


Rabbi Edwards has an impressive resumé. She has taught on an adjunct basis at HUC in the rabbinical school, and at USC in the Jewish Studies program. Her writing appears in a half-dozen books, including Kulanu : All of Us (a URJ handbook for congregational inclusion of gay and lesbian Jews); The Women’s Torah Commentary: New Insights from Women Rabbis on the 54 Weekly Torah Portions; Lesbian Rabbis: The First Generation; and Mentsh: On Being Queer and Jewish (edited by Angela Brown), where she wrote the foreword. Additionally Rabbi Edwards is a co-editor of the revised editions (1999) of the Reform Movement textbook, Introduction to Judaism: a Sourcebook, and its companion Instructor’s Guide and Curriculum. She is the “Spiritual Role Model” in the book Outspoken by Michael Thomas Ford, a book of interviews of GLBT people intended for a youth audience.


A couple since 1985, Rabbi Edwards and Tracy Moore were married under chuppah in 1995, and under California law in 2008 by Assembly Member Karen Bass and Rabbi Laura Geller. Tracy is the editor of Lesbiot: Israeli Lesbians Talk about Sexuality, Feminism, Judaism and Their Lives.


Visit Temple Beth Chayim Chadashim at: www.bcc-la.org



November 18, 2009 / 7:30 p.m.

General Election Meeting and Get-together

                                      - State of the Chapter and Future Goals


Every month for more than 30 years there’s been a PFLAG Los Angeles meeting helping LGBTQ persons and their families and friends cope with the difficulties of living in a homophobic society. People come at many stages on their journey, and all receive a warm welcome and a safe place to talk. We’ve cried together, laughed together and formed lasting bonds.


Maybe you’ve been coming to our meetings regularly or perhaps you’ve only been once. Maybe you were a regular, but it’s been a while since you’ve attended. Whatever your situation, if you’ve got a warm spot in your heart for PFLAG Los Angeles, put our November 18th meeting on your calendar. It’s our biennial election meeting, and a great time to see old friends and make new ones.


All dues paying members will have an opportunity to vote for President, Secretary, and Treasurer. We’ll also be voting on an amendment to the by-laws clarifying the role of the Board of Directors. (Click here for the full text of the amendment.) If you haven’t renewed your dues and would like to, you can print out the U.S. Mail Form located on our Join/Donate page and mail it to the address listed. On-line donation is coming by the end of the year!


We’ll have our regular support groups, a “State of the Chapter” report, and opportunities to meet the slate of officers and the current Board Members. There will also be coffee, refreshments and time to share news and ideas informally. Looking forward to seeing you then.


Agenda of the November 18, 2009 Meeting

7:30-8:30    Support Groups

8:30-8:45    Refreshments and Conversation

8:50-9:00    State of the Chapter and Future Goals

9:00-9:15    Meet the Slate

9:15-9:30    Meet the Board and Volunteer Opportunities

9:30-9:45    PFLAG in the Region and the Nation


Slate of Officers

President: Mariette Sawchuk

Vice President: Stuart Huggins

Secretary: Karen Mason

Treasurer: York Knowlton



 October 21, 2009 / 7:30 p.m.

“Walking the Talk with LGBTQ Youth”

    - Michael Ferrera , founder of LifeWorks Mentoring


If you are an LGBTQ teen or the parent of an LGBTQ teen, don’t miss this talk by Michael Ferrera, founder of the most successful mentoring program for queer young people in the country. If you are a support of the LGBTQ community, this is a must see for you also.


Michael Ferrera has been a champion for LGBTQ youth for over 15 years. A licensed social worker, he is the founder and executive director of LifeWorks Mentoring, which provides one-on-one, peer and group mentoring to gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning young people age 14 to 24.


The good news, according to Michael, is that more LGBTQ young people are feeling free to come out at earlier ages. The bad news is that their road through adolescence and young adulthood is often rocky. Many parents are still uncomfortable with their gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning children. Other supportive parents don’t know how to help.


LGBTQ kids are still marginalized at school, facing teasing, harassment, and sometimes physical danger. Hostile or indifferent school administrations and parent organizations exist in many districts.


With few or no role models among family members and close friends, LGBTQ kids frequently have trouble imagining a successful, healthy, happy future for themselves.


That’s where LIFEWORKS MENTORING comes in. Pairing up LGBTQ youth aged 14 to 24 with screened and trained mentors, LIFEWORK mentoring fills in the gap. Programs include one on one mentoring, social groups, workshops and activities.


Prior to founding LifeWorks, Michael worked as a social worker and Public Policy Director at Gay and Lesbian Adolescent Social Services. He has been an advocate nationally for the rights of LGBTQ youth and foster youth statewide and nationally. In 2004, he co-authored the Foster Care Non-Discrimination Act which was passed in to law that same year.  He serves on the Child Welfare League of America’s LGBTQ Youth Providers Network, the California Children’s Roundtable, and Equality California’s LGBT Human Services Network.


It’s easy to pay lip-service to the importance of LGBTQ youth. Michael Ferrera will speak about how we can turn our talk into action that will empower a new generation.


Visit the LifeWorks website: www.lifeworksla.org



September 16, 2009 / 7:30 p.m.

“The Constant Process”

  - PFLAG Los Angeles presents Mormon Filmmaker Douglas Hunter
                   and his bridge building film about lesbian Episcopalian Priest Susan Russell


Douglas Hunter, a Mormon father of three, knows that change is the Constant Process.  He began thinking that “gay Christian” was a contradiction. Then he met the Rev. Susan Russell, a lesbian and an Episcopalian priest.


Although skeptical about working with Hunter, Russell agreed to the film in the hope of building bridges of understanding to those opposed to marriage equality and intolerant of LGBT relationships of any kind.


Russell narrates the film, most of which was shot in her office. She describes the way her spirituality arises from her fullest, deepest self. Integral to that self is her sexual orientation, which is not purely or even primarily physical, but about emotional and spiritual intimacy.


In the process of making the film, the two developed an unlikely but deep friendship. During the bruising and divisive fight over Proposition 8, Hunter spoke out in favor of marriage equality, often with Russell at his side.


The deep message of the film is one that PFLAG members know well:  the power of each individual’s true story. It is also one of hope—that bridges of understanding can be built across gulfs of dogma and belief. As Hunter puts it: “When we find ourselves with what seems to be an impossible impasse, that's where real opportunities are.”


Opportunities for enemies to become friends.


August 19, 2009 / 7:30 p.m.

Winning Marriage

  - Noted Campaign Strategist Fred Karger talks about tactics that work.


Want to know how to bring marriage equality back to California? Fred Karger will describe effective actions each of us can take.


Fred has been fashioning winning campaigns—political and public relations—for over 35 years. In July 2008, independent of the official campaign committee, he launched his own effort to defeat Proposition 8, organizing the highly effective and controversial Californians Against Hate. Californians Against Hate publicizes the names of mega donors—both organizations and individuals—who financed the Yes on 8 campaign, attacking the rights of LGBT persons to marry.


But Karger is not satisfied with publicizing this roster of shame. He has taken aggressive action against some of the major players, particularly those who seek to remain anonymous. In November 2008, he filed a sworn complaint against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Church) with the California Fair Political Practices Commission for not reporting extensive non-monetary contributions to Yes on 8. The FPPC has been investigating those charges. Californians Against Hate has also led four successful boycotts of companies who gave $100,000 or more to Yes on 8, and were successful in settling two of them.


For 27 years a member of The Dolphin Group, a well-known political consulting and public affairs firm, he rose to the position of Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. While at the Dolphin Group, Karger managed numerous federal, state and local campaigns. He ran several successful opposition campaigns, including heavy involvement in two Presidential elections.


Upon his retirement in 2004, he turned his formidable talents to civic issues, taking up the struggle for LGBT rights in 2006. Karger founded Save the Boom, a grassroots campaign to save the oldest gay bar in the Western US, the landmark Boom Boom Room and Coast Inn in which it was housed.


Come and hear this fearless campaign expert’s practical advice on regaining equal marriage rights.


Visit the Californians Against Hate website.



July 15, 2009 / 7:30 p.m.


  -  Rev. Dr. Robert E. “Bob” Shore-Goss Presents radical, gay-friendly ways to look at the Scriptures.


Tired of being beaten up by the same old texts? Come hear Rev. Dr. Bob Shore-Goss talk about reading scripture through an LGBT perspective and propose a new “liberation theology” for our community.


If it sounds daring, it is. Dr. Shore-Goss has a history of being daring. While he started ministry as a gay Roman Catholic priest and received a Th. D. in Comparative Religion from Harvard University, he knows how to get down and dirty. He has worked in Mother Theresa of Calcutta’s House of the Dying Destitute and been a member of ACT-UP. These formative experiences developed his deep conviction of Jesus’ radical commitment to the marginalized.


      ”Audacious”“Cutting edge”       “A milestone”   “Revolutionary”            Taken from reviews                 of Shore-Goss’ books.Dr. Shore-Goss is the author of several ground breaking theological works, including Jesus ACTED UP: A Gay and Lesbian Manifesto (1993) and Queering Christ: Beyond Jesus ACTED UP (2002), a Lamda Literary Finalist for Spirituality. He is the co-editor of A Rainbow of Diversities (1996), Our Families, Our Values:  Snapshots of Queer Kinship (1987), Take Back the Word: A Queer Reading of the Bible (2002), and The Queer Bible Commentary (2006) to name only a few of his titles.


Dr. Shore-Goss is presently the full time pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church of the Valley and teaches in the Religious Studies Department at CSUN and Claremont School of Theology, where he lectures on Queer Theology. He has taught at the university level for more than 10 years, winning the 2000 Templeton Course Prize in Religion and Science. Dr Shore-Goss is legally married to his partner Rev. Joseph Shore-Goss.


Come hear him and be challenged, shocked, surprised, and inspired.



Visit the MCC In The Valley website.




July 17, 2009 / 9:45 pm

Show Me Love

... a stunningly honest portrait of teenage life.


PFLAG Los Angeles is the Community Partner for this film at


Outfest 2009

Friday, July 17, 9:45 pm

Directors Guild of America (DGA 2)

7920 Sunset Boulevard

Major Cross Streets: between

Crescent Heights and Fairfax


Screened as the Outfest 1999 opening night film, SHOW ME LOVE is a stunningly honest portrait of teenage life. It's the love story of 16-year-old Agnes, a social outcast, who has a colossal crush on Elin, an explosive bombshell who is bored with her life in the small Swedish town of Amål. A lesbian favorite and a moving piece of cinema, Lukas Moodysson's film still charms and inspires a decade after its original release.


As a member of PFLAG Los Angeles you are eligible to receive a $1 discount on each ticket purchased for this film!


Outfest is a leading showcase for diverse, international lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) film and video. Outfest produces the oldest and largest continuous film festival in Los Angeles, the only LGBT weekly screening series in the country as well as the only LGBT people of color film festival. Since 1982, Outfest has presented more than 4,000 film and video titles for audiences of well over half a million people. Outfest 2009 features 160 films and videos from 20 countries and runs from July 9th – July 19th.



June 17, 2009 / Special Time 7:00 p.m.

“Saving Marriage” /  Mike Roth Producer/Director

  -  Producer/Director Mike Roth screens and talks about his critically

                   acclaimed film on the Massachusetts fight for marriage equality.


Responding to the California Supreme Court ruling on Proposition 8, PFLAG LA is presenting a special event. Mike Roth, Producer/Director of Saving Marriage is showing his critically acclaimed film at PFLAG LA’s June 17th meeting. Because of this special event, the meeting will begin early–promptly at 7:00 pm–with the screening of the film, followed by comments and QA from Mike.


Our usual support groups will be held at 9:15 pm.


Roth’s documentary chronicles the fierce battle to secure marriage rights for LGBT people that waged in Massachusetts for 18 months. The requirement by the Massachusetts Supreme Court that two legislative votes uphold the marriage equality statute launched a political firestorm.


Both proponents and opponents of gay civil marriage embraced the issue as a crusade: both believed that they were “saving marriage.” Roth documents the deeply held, passionately expressed beliefs on each side of the issues. He also follows the lives of gay couples whose futures hang in the balance, and he records the historic moment when a second legislative vote ratified marriage equality for all.


This moving film has much to tell us about our ongoing struggle to secure marriage rights for all in California. The arguments of our opponents and the successful strategies of the Massachusetts LGBT community and allies provide ideas for an upcoming pro-gay marriage ballot initiative fight. The emotional victory fuels our motivation to continue the struggle.


Following the film, Mike will talk about the making of this powerful documentary and share his insights into the continuing struggle for full equality. The meeting will conclude with support and sharing in small groups.


Mike began his career as a news cameraman in his home state of Michigan in 1989 and has been in production ever since. Now based in Los Angeles, he has traveled around the U.S. and across six continents shooting news, unscripted/reality TV, and documentaries. Some of Mike's credits include The Apprentice (NBC), The Amazing Race (CBS), The Simple Life (Fox), and Flavor of Love (VH1).


Visit the documentary’s website at www.SavingMarriageTheMovie.com



May 20, 2009 / 7:30 p.m.

Kim Pearson

       –“Difference Isn’t Wrong. It Just is... .”


Supporting Trans Youth and Their Families

Kim Pearson, Executive Director of Trans Youth Family Allies tells how we can help


The boy who likes to play with dolls. The girl who won’t wear a dress. What do these non-gender conforming behaviors mean? And what about the children who insists on living as the gender opposite to their assigned birth sex? Kim Pearson has heard it all. In fact, she has lived it. By the time her fourteen year old lesbian daughter told Kim she wanted to transition, Kim had years of experience dealing with a gender-variant child. She took action, and the TransYouth Family Allies was founded.


According to Kim, Some of gender non-conforming behaviors are transient and exploratory, children playing with gender roles that culture has established. Other children consistently, persistently and acutely identify with the gender opposite of their birth sex. Some children, over the course of months leading into years, express this cross gender identification to their parent(s). These children, if not given the opportunity to express their gender identity, may be so distressed that they resort to self-harm or even suicide.


Both in school and in the healthcare system, these young people may be mistreated—bullied, mocked, threatened, forced into conformity with societal expectations. Their parents often feel a range of emotions and confusion about ways to best help their children.



TYFA is an organization whose mission is to provide support, education, advocacy and resources for parents of gender variant children and the service providers and educators who deal with them. Today, TYFA board members travel throughout the country, speaking at colleges and universities, professional associations, medical schools and other venues, creating a supportive climate where gender identity can be expressed freely and safely.


Kim Pearson is Executive Director/Co-Founder of TransYouth Family Allies (TYFA) and National Board President of PFLAG-TNET. She first directed her energy into GLBT support, advocacy and education as the founder and president of her local PFLAG Chapter when the youngest of her three children came out as lesbian in 2005. Eighteen months later she found herself facilitating that same child's transition to living life as a young man. In its short history TYFA has provided support to over 100 families, and training to hundreds of GLBT organizations, service professionals and government officials all over the United States. TYFA and their families have been featured on several local/national radio programs, national/regional television and numerous print articles.


Visit the Trans Youth Family Allies website at: www.imatyfa.org



April 15, 2009 / 7:30 p.m.

Omar Minwalla

      – Gay Sex: Fact and Fiction: The Truth is Out There


There are a lot of myths about the sexual lives of LGBT persons, and most of these myths are used against our community. On April 15, we’ll have the opportunity to find out the truth from Dr. Omar Minwalla, Clinical Director of the Institute of Sexual Health.


Dr. Minwalla is a licensed psychologist and clinical sexologist with a doctorate from the Illinois School of Professional Psychology in Chicago and post doctoral fellowship at the University of Minnesota Medical School’s Program in Human Sexuality. His specializations include sexual orientation and transgender issues as well as sexual addiction and sexual dysfunction.


In addition to treatment programs for heterosexual and LGBT persons suffering from various forms of sexual dysfunction, the Institute of Sexual Health offers seminars and other training to psychologists, social workers, and healthcare professionals seeking to improve their knowledge of sexual addiction.


Omar Minwalla is a Licensed Psychologist and Clinical Sexologist and Clinical Director of the Institute of Sexual health. Dr. Minwalla earned his doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the Illinois School of Professional Psychology in Chicago and completed his post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Minnesota Medical School’s Program in Human Sexuality. His specializations include sexual compulsivity/sex addiction, sexual offending, sexual and dysfunction, transgender issues, sexual orientation, BDSM and paraphilic sexuality. Dr. Minwalla also has a private practice specializing in marginalized sexuality and gender concerns. Dr. Minwalla is a member of the Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health (SASH).



March 18, 2009 / 7:30 p.m

Damian Farry

    – “Claiming Our Place in the Church”

               The second in PFLAG LA’s series on Faith and the LGBT Community


For gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people and their families, going to a house of worship may be the most dangerous trip of the week. The pain caused by homophobic and transphobic theology, preaching, and practice is enormous. Yet many of us stay in our traditional churches or temples because rituals, music, or an inspired and sympathetic clergyman help us feel connected to God. Our childhood religion just feels right.


Should we stay in our religious family of origin? Or should we find a more accepting but less comfortable congregation? What does our continued presence in our traditional churches mean? Support for the status quo? Or a challenge to homophobic teaching?


Damian Farry, founder of Informed Conscience, will give us his perspective on these moral and spiritual challenges. Informed Conscience is a nonprofit educational organization dedicated to increasing public awareness and understanding of homosexuality, particularly as it relates to church teachings. The primary vehicle for achieving this is the organization’s website, www.InformedConscience.com, which focuses on Christianity in general, and Catholicism in particular.


Damian is an out gay man who has been involved in several ministries within the Catholic Church. He currently serves on the Informed Conscience board of directors and is actively involved in promoting its goals, encouraging all gay people to participate fully in the spiritual life offered by their respective churches.


Damian will share some of his experiences, both positive and negative, from his ministry and explain how they led to the formation of Informed Conscience. He will also give a brief overview of the website.


Visit: www.InformedConscience.com



February 18, 2009 / 7:30 p.m.

Reverend, Neil G. Thomas

    – UNWELCOME IN GOD’S HOUSE? Healing the wounds religions inflict.


Reverend Neil G. Thomas, Senior Pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church, Los Angeles – the founding church of the MCC Movement.


Out of the closet, out of the church. For LGBT persons and their families, acceptance of sexual orientation or gender identity often causes a crisis of faith. How many of us have sat in our seats, listening with anguish to sermons that ignore, trivialize, criticize, vilify, or demonize our experience. From “don’t ask, don’t tell” policies to outright hate many religious denominations—Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and others—make full inclusion in community life difficult or impossible.


Reverend Neil G. Thomas, senior pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church Los Angeles, believes that the “good news” of spirituality is our birthright. He will be talking about healing past wounds caused by religious rejection, reclaiming our places as children of God, and actively working to bring about justice and inclusion for all.


Raised as a Mormon, Reverend Thomas has been a part of the Metropolitan Community Churches for 26 years, serving in numerous positions including Chair, Board of Ordained Ministries (European District), Member, Elder’s Task Force on Education, Member, European District Committee, Member, Board of Samaritan College in Europe, Supervising Pastor, and Ecumenical Officer.


Well known for his social activism he has been instrumental in feeding programs for the homeless, night and day shelters, safer sex initiatives, establishing relations with police and LGBTQ communities, Over the Rainbow, (a drop in center offering counseling, support and information), LGBTQ youth services, as well as challenging laws that continue discrimination and intolerance.


Reverend Thomas currently serves as President of California Faith for Equality, an interfaith coalition that is building a strong voice in bringing about Marriage Equality in California, President of the Los Angeles LGBTQI Clergy Council and serves Metropolitan Community Churches on the California Council of Churches.


For more information on Metropolitan Community Church, Los Angeles go to: www.mccla.org



January 21, 2009 / 7:30 p.m.

Oren Raz. MA, MFT

     – Stranger in a Strange Land: How understanding brain development can help
                 families support their LGBT adolescent and young adult children.


In adolescence, the brain changes more rapidly than at any other time except infancy and early childhood. No wonder teens sometimes feel like strangers in a strange land. That’s especially true for LGBT youth, whose emerging identity may make them feel alienated from their families and friends.


Oren Raz, a marriage and family therapist with special expertise in neurobiology, will provide crucial information on brain development and its impact on the coming out process. He will give us tools to understand and process our own reactions to young people and help us develop balanced responses to their needs and behaviors. These insights will promote positive relationships that will enrich the family experience for all members.


Born in Israel, Oren also understands the tensions arising when traditional cultures intersect with life in urban Los Angeles. A graduate of Tel Aviv University with degrees in psychology and philosophy, Oren studied Clinical Psychology at Pepperdine University, where he received his Master’s degree with honors and was inducted into the National Psychology Honor Society.


Join us as Oren helps us decode the workings of young brains and shows us strategies for making sure the young people in our lives are neurologically wired for a successful entrance into the adult world.


For more information on Oren Raz, go to: www.OrenRazTherapy.com

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