It is with tempered excitement that we re-launch the PFLAG Lincoln newsletter this July 2016. It was in July 2015 that I wrote to you about the senseless massacre at Mother Emanuel on June 17th (The Historic Month of June 2015: Tears, Disbelief and Joy). We lost a substantial number of beloved leaders on that day. We shared collective tears from two different rivers that June, when nine days later, SCOTUS decreed that marriage equality is a fundamental right.
Nearly one year later, we find ourselves collectively mourning yet another tragedy that seems so utterly aberrant; that shocks so many of us to our core. At the time of this writing, questions are still being asked and answered, but given what has so far been reported, it seems the event in Orlando, FL was the likely result of an outward expression of self-hatred. So much violence in the world stems from self-hatred, and the LGBTQ community is acutely aware of this insidious phenomenon. Violence, hatred and lack of acceptance of LGBTQs often are cloaked under the guise of religious values. If terroristic extremism ends up being the nucleus of the atrocity in Orlando, please remember that when religion is used as a tool to exclude, it stems from an extremist individual.
It is why groups like PFLAG work so hard to live by our mission of support, education, and advocacy. Support is extended to individuals struggling with the realities of being kicked out of their family units, losing their friends because of their sexual or gender identity, experiencing the loss of friends, intimidation and/or exclusionary practices in their workplace, bathroom policies, and more. Education is continually developed and inserted into every area of need we can identify (i.e. schools, families, individuals who are questioning, Lincoln Police Department trainings…); and then we advocate for those whose voices either are not being heard, or who cannot yet find their voice amid the external turmoil so often working against them (i.e. parents, friends, community leaders, politicians, legislators, etc.).
The health and well-being of LGBTQ youth is directly related to having loving support from family and friends. The research documenting this relationship also underscores the importance of PFLAG. When individuals are not receiving the understanding and acceptance for who they are at home, PFLAG is there to help provide support to family members, friends and LGBTQ individuals. This support, education and advocacy can also help reduce the hopelessness that results in thoughts of suicide. PFLAG values all members of our family. Knowing that people care makes a tremendous difference in so many people’s lives.
Thank you to all of the parents of LGBTs who stand with their children, who work with other parents struggling with their own LGBT kids, especially in the current political climate, and who refer these struggling parents to PFLAG. Thank you to all of the thriving, and developing community groups in Lincoln offering so many varied supports and opportunities for community-building, for supporting a sense of belonging!
Whether people attribute such acts of terror as that recently committed in Orlando, to religious extremism, hate, a dangerous lack of gun control measures, or some combination of all of these things, LGBTQ individuals need to remember, and take heart in the fact that they are surrounded by an even GREATER LOVE!
The core message I would like to extend to all LGBT individuals is that you may know people who stand with you; please include among them, PFLAG. PFLAG embraces you, stands with you, and speaks up for, and with you!