2012 JULY NEWSLETTER
July 11, 7:00 pm: PFLAG Meeting. Subject–Families with LGBT Kids—Then and Now—St. Stephen’s, 9th & Hurbert, Newport July 14, 9:00 am – 1:00 pm: PFLAG at Saturday Market—Newport July 17 , 9:00 am: OUT on the Oregon Coast for Lesbians–at the Green Salmon, Yachats July 26, 5-7 pm: OUT on the Oregon Coast Happy Hour for LGBT Folk—Cafe Mundo, Newport
Response to anti-gay Viewpoint opinion. In response to an anti-gay Viewpoint published on the opinion page of the Newport News-Times, the following response was prepared by OCC PFLAG president Jeanne St. John and was subsequently printed in the same paper. Outpouring of Support for LGBT Community Being born left-handed is a disadvantage, but it’s rarely life-threatening or the cause of isolation or abuse. In previous eras left-handed people were shunned, considered evil—“sinister” means left-handed. About the same percentage of the population is gay as left-handed—and both conditions are part of our “wiring” rather than conscious choices. A recent Viewpoint expressed the writer’s opinion that he and God find unrepentant gay (LGBT) people deserving of the death penalty. Publication of this statement was a call to action for hundreds of Lincoln County residents who collected signatures and talked to friends and church members about this incident. (We welcome the recent change of Opinion Page policy.) Unless you have a gay friend or family member, you may not know the depth of fear such statements generate. Many LGBT members in our communites have experienced death threats and physical abuse; at least one has experienced the murder of a partner for being born gay. Several local LGBT teens have seriously contemplated suicide this spring because they don’t have enough support from their families or from their communities to keep them going. At least one local gay teen recently attempted suicide. This is life and death business—and we need to be on the side of life. Four years ago a gay teen in Newport killed himself despite the efforts of school and mental health professionals. From that loss came the Oregon Central Coast Chapter of PFLAG (Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians & Gays), to make Lincoln County more welcoming and supportive for the LGBT community. PFLAG holds monthly meetings that provide “support to cope with an adverse society; education to enlighten an ill-informed public; and advocacy to end discrimination and secure equal civil rights.” Speakers and films give us much-needed information about LGBT-related issues. Support groups provide a forum for individuals to discuss concerns about relationships at work or with family members. Advocacy efforts include a strong effort for marriage equality—last summer we published an ad and poster with over 400 local signatures. Meetings are held on the third Wednesday at 7 PM at St. Stephen Church in Newport. PFLAG works with LCSD’s Bully Prevention programs, contributed to the purchase of materials and to discounts for the recent Bully documentary film. Schools with GSA (Gay/Straight Alliance) clubs have less bullying and better academic achievement, so PFLAG helps support GSA groups in high schools, OCCC, and Angell Job Corps. Although churches have been the source of much suffering for LGBT people, several Lincoln County churches have studied and adopted Welcoming Church statements and now partner with PFLAG at Farmer’s Market tables and at the annual “Love is Love” Gay/Straight Valentine Party. Their extension of God’s love is life-giving and life-saving. PFLAG is a resource for the whole community. In coming months we will hold Community Meetings with panels of PFLAG parents, clergy, GSA members, and LGBT people to provide “everything you wanted to know about gay but didn’t know who to ask.” In the outpouring of love and support following that hostile Viewpoint, many asked how they could help. Here’s a start. Join PFLAG to support our many community projects. Be a “Straight Ally” by speaking up for LGBT rights. Contribute to projects like LGBT teen support groups. Attend PFLAG events and fundraisers. Post rainbow stickers as a sign of welcome. Help staff a Farmer’s Market table. Join the PFLAG email list to stay informed and visit our website for more detailed information: www.occpflag.org Several gays suggested, “Pray for that man and others that their hearts may be opened.” Jeanne St.John, Ph.D is Chair of PFLAG Oregon Central Coast, a retired LCSD principal, and a volunteer for schools, churches, and other community groups.