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My Family Walks With Me

by Susan Harman

[A number of people march down the middle of the street in pink shirts, holding a PFLAG banner, and pink signs showing support for LGBTQ children]
[A number of people march down the middle of the street in pink shirts, holding a PFLAG banner, and pink signs showing support for LGBTQ children]  (Source:PFLAG Vancouver)

I didn't expect to get a letter from my son.

He was in his last year of secondary school, and I was dropping him and his friend at school before I went to work. His friend had a big wooden project in the back, and while I was helping him get it out I heard my son say, "Good-Bye." When I got into my car to leave, there was a letter on the seat. In it, my son told me he was gay and told me to think about it during the day, and that if I wanted, I could kick him out that night! I was devastated, not because he was gay, which I had suspected, but because I didn't want him to spend the whole day in misery! He was long gone, and I knew it would be impossible to find him in that huge school.

Over the next few days I assured him I loved and supported him. He started going to the youth group at QMUNITY, and we began to settle into our new normal. He wanted to be out, but was such an introvert. He asked me to tell our relatives and family friends, which I did. I felt there was something missing; although our friends were supportive, I wanted to talk to other parents with gay children. I had seen somewhere a suggestion about that, but I couldn't find a name. I wanted to talk with people who would understand and have suggestions. Then I saw an article in the paper about PFLAG Vancouver. Armed with that name, I attended the Pride Parade and watched PFLAG go by. Then I arrived at the Sunset Beach Festival and went to the PFLAG booth. There were two handsome men there. I announced that my son had just come out. They smiled, and one of them said, "Congratulations!" It was a lovely way to be introduced to the group.

I found the meetings as satisfying as I had suspected! There was something very freeing about sharing doubts, problems, and successes with people who understood. I have been a part of the group for fourteen years now. We have a saying that when you no longer need PFLAG, PFLAG needs you. In time, I migrated from needy to needed. I spent several years as President, attended many meetings, worked at the PFLAG booth countless times, and enjoyed the wonderful company of those in the LGBTQ community. During that time, the needs of the parents at the PFLAG meetings changed. Now many of the parents come because they have a trans child, but the support model remains the same.

A couple of years ago, I was a Grand Marshal of the Pride Parade along with two other PFLAG moms. That was exciting, with many run-up events, TV and radio interviews, and the chance to ride in the back of a convertible waving to huge crowds! It was truly our fifteen minutes of fame.

The parade has a special place in my heart, as it does for most of us in PFLAG. We can't wait to march again this year! I am extra excited because my son is defending his PhD Thesis in Toronto on August 4th, flying here on August 5th, and marching with me and the PFLAG group for the first time on August 6th!

Please join us at The Junction, 1138 Davie Street, on July 16th from 3:00-7:00pm for our annual fundraiser! It will be hard to miss our big new pink signs. Our favorite - "MY FAMILY WALKS WITH ME."

PFLAG Fundraiser

Need support? Check out PFLAG Vancouver

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