Message from President February 2015

thia

Fighting Fear
Can you remember the first scary movie that you watched? Do you really remember how you felt afterwards? Were you watching the movie with a group of friends who didn’t want to let you know that they were as afraid as you were? Or maybe you were watching with friends who tried to prove everything was fake. The blood is fake. The teeth aren’t real. Going down there (wherever there may be) is stupid because the demon possessed child Regan (The Exorcist), Freddy Krueger (Nightmare on Elm Street), Jason (Friday the 13th) or Hannibal Lecther (Silence of the Lambs) are right there?!
Even though these characters are fictitious, fear is real. Fear is the impetus for so much hate. We should ask ourselves, “What makes me really afraid? Why am I afraid to get to know someone for who they are on the inside, not for the outward packaging that may be scary because it is different or strange? At least in the scary movies, folks face their biggest fears.
Xenophobia is a Greek word that comes from xeno (strange or foreign) and phobia (fear) and is defined simply as an unreasoned fear of the perceived strange or foreign. If we take an honest assessment of our fears, no matter who we are, we have had xenophobic moments or encounters. Maybe the parents at Lincoln Public Schools were more afraid of the unknown so our quest may be to conquer fear with relationship building. Maybe the white LGBTQ community is afraid of the LGBTQ community of color. Maybe Republicans are afraid of Democrats. Maybe dogs are afraid of cats. Unfortunately, terrorists use fear as an intentional strategy to polarize and paralyze—to keep us afraid.

A loving month yet challenging times…

I remain amazed at how far we have come to make strident advances in technology, medicine, education, apparel, food, housing, automobiles, airplanes and so much more, yet we still seem to lag behind when it comes to engaging with each other on a basic level of our common humanity. Unfortunately we can even find ourselves closeted and comfortable with social media or advancing personal agendas rather than communicating in person. Why is it still difficult for those with various colors of skin and multiple identities to stand with each other. Why is there still pronounced demarcation lines for gender, color, race, class, sexual orientation and religion? It does take a lot of effort to be intentional and inclusive but it is much easier than harboring hate and recycling the rhetoric of ignorance that seems to be systemic. As an organization of advocacy, PFLAG faces great challenges in remaining relevant and current at times. However what keeps this organization vibrant and what spares those who have been perpetually hurt because of being different is knowing that there is love that is unconditional from all those who serve on this PFLAG board and other advocacy entities in this city of Lincoln. At best we have to find ways to embody love an encourage each other so that we may not grow weary in well doing. If for no other time during the year we show and share love, February 14 is a constant reminder. You are loved!!!

Thia Hartley