I’m From Phoenix, AZ.

by philip calderon

I had known about PFLAG for a long time. I knew it was a straight organization for parents with gay children. I had just separated from my wife and was trying to find support for her. I had the whole gay community to go to but as a wife of a gay man my wife had no support. I decided to attend a PFLAG meeting then report back to my wife. However, the realization didn’t hit me until I walked into the meeting that this would be my first time interacting with a group of straight people as an openly gay man.

I found PFLAGers, well, sort of weird. There was Bunny so proud of her lesbian daughter and Boots who spoke so glowingly of her gay son and Nancy who was so funny and comfortable about having a gay sister. My brain just couldn’t handle what it was hearing. I wondered how long it would take before someone slipped up and called me a faggot.

I couldn’t recommend PFLAG after just one meeting so I attended several more. The weirdness continued but nobody slipped up. Then one day I asked myself what if these PFLAGers really meant what they were saying. What if these straight people really loved their gay children just the way they are.

I realize now that it took several months of a group of “gay positive” straight people challenging my long held belief that straight people could at best only tolerate gay people before I could get it through my thick skull that I might be wrong.

That day I started to let go of my fear of rejection long enough to start trusting straight people again. I hadn’t realized how unsafe I had always felt. Now I almost always feel safe because I know there are many more PFLAGer types out there than those who would do me harm. Now PFLAGers don’t seem weird at all.

4 Comments:

  1. I always get misty-eyed when I hear the crowd at Gay Pride giving the people of PFLAG the loudest, most sustained applause and cheers as they march by in the parade.

    They’re good people.

  2. Great story, I’ve always found the word “weird,” weird as well. I gotta attend PFLAG with my parents already. I came out years ago and feel bad I haven’t given them a network of other friends of da gayz to share with. Go you and your gay self!

  3. Ahhh, PFLAG. Gotta love PFLAG. As stated in my own story here, the first time I marched in a gay pride parade was in the Sydney Mardi Gras with my teenage daughter beside me – with PFLAG. And yeah Jeffrey, the group indeed got a very loud cheer. I had no previous contact with them and actually only knew of them through ‘Debbie’ on Queer as Folk (talk about a poster ‘mum’ for PFLAG – lol). Wanting to march with my daughter, I thought they would be the most appropriate group so I gave my local chaper a call to ask if we could march them with. Of course they said yes, and they were indeed an awesome group of people. Thanx for your story Philip :-)

  4. Phil: I have tears in my eyes reading this, knowing what a difference we unwittingly make in PFLAG, but I also want all the GLBTQ people to know that it works the OTHER way, too. Until I knew all you wonderful GLBTQ friends, I was totally ignorant of all but my own daughter. I think we all “grow” out of our ignorance, if we just allow ourselves to do it. Thank you to all the people who have had the courage to share your lives within my hearing at PFLAG meetings in Kansas City, MO and now here in Phoenix, Tempe and Sun Lakes, AZ. Many of your life stories have helped me grow as an individual and learn that there is beauty in all of us.
    Phil, I so appreciate that you shared this! Donna

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