We are parents and children, brothers and sisters, grandparents and friends. We are gay and lesbian, straight, bisexual, and transgender. We are Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, and non-religious. We are united by a commitment to make a safe place for people to come and talk about their experiences relating to sexual orientation and gender identity.
In fact, we’re a lot like you. Each of us has come to our first PFLAG meeting with a many conflicting and confusing emotions – love, sadness, anger, guilt, fear, liberation, embarrassment to name only a few. We found understanding, help, and friendship. And we learned we are not alone. Neither are you. We are here to share the journey to acceptance with you. You have a home at PFLAG Los Angeles.
What is PFLAG Los Angeles?
PFLAG Los Angeles is an all volunteer organization run by parents, family members, LGBTQ persons and their friends. Each of us came for help, found support, and joined the organization to assist others on their journey to acceptance. Our chapter, together with a group in New York City, founded the national PFLAG organization, which provides assistance to over 500 independent chapters nationwide. On this page you’ll find our mission statement, a brief chapter history, a biography of our indomitable founder Adele Starr, current and past copies of our informative newsletter, and a link to PFLAG National’s website.
PFLAG Los Angeles
P.O. Box 24565, Los Angeles, CA 90024 1.888.PFLAG 88 (1.888.735.2488)
our monthly e-mail update!________________
PFLAG envisions a world where diversity is celebrated and all people are respected, valued, and affirmed inclusive of their sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.
By meeting people where they are and collaborating with others, PFLAG realizes its vision through: SUPPORT for families, allies and people who are LGBTQ; EDUCATION for ourselves and others about the unique issues and challenges facing people who are LGBTQ;ADVOCACY in our communities to change attitudes and create policies and laws that achieve full equality for people who are LGBTQ.
PFLAG Los Angeles will mark the 40th anniversary of its very first meeting in March, 2016
Over the course of this anniversary year, we will be telling the story in a number of ways, at meetings and celebrations. Here on the website we're highlighting our Founder's Bio and Windows on Our Past (available only on the desktop version of our website). We hope you will return each month as we open a new window on milestones in our early history.
Many of the items are photos of documents—laboriously typed on Smith Corona and other typewriters and covered with handwritten notes—so don't expect YouTube or Instagram. Instead you will see items that our extraordinary founders made with their own hands as they struggled to break down prejudice with carbon paper and a passion for justice.
These yellowing, fragile pieces of paper come from a time when LGBTQ relationships were criminalized, where the mere suggestion of a gay identity could lose you your apartment or your job. They come from a time when LGBTQ persons lived closeted lives to survive. They come from a time psychologists blamed domineering mothers and weak fathers for the sexual orientation or gender identity of their children. There was no Google, no Wikipedia, no Facebook, no help for family members or ways to connect with other parents.
All the wonderful organizations we take for granted now—National Center for Lesbian Rights (1977), HRC (1980), GLAAD (1985), National Center for Transgender Rights (2003), and PFLAG (1974)—were just starting to form.
Each photo and document is a stepping stone on the way that led to today's PFLAG organization, to our current chapter, and to the greater equality and acceptance LGBTQ persons and their families now enjoy.
Each month in 2016 we will present
another item from our archives,
When you look at each one, ask yourself…
Would I have had the courage
to take this step?
What can I do now
to move equality forward?
PFLAG Los Angeles: A History of Love
The history of PFLAG Los Angeles is a story of parents doing what they do best: loving, supporting, and advocating for their children.
From its first meeting in 1976, it has been an all-volunteer organization of parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, siblings, cousins, friends and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals with one mission: to promote the health and well-being of LGBT persons and their families through support, education, and advocacy.
The story actually began in 1968, when Adele and Larry Starr learned that their 18 year old son Philip was gay after he ran away from home. The family reunited, and the Starrs determined to do whatever they could to learn about homosexuality and help Philip.
Their search for answers led them to Jeanne Manford, who had held the first support group for parents of gay children in New York City in 1973. On a visit to Los Angeles in 1974, Manford encouraged the Starrs to start a similar group. After a few false starts, the first successful meeting of PFLAG Los Angeles was held in the Starr’s Brentwood home on March 8, 1976. The chapter has been meeting ever since following the formula Adele devised for the first meeting: peer support in small groups followed by an educational program.
Adele recognized that support was not enough to help Philip and the other families who came flocking to the meetings. The larger community knew little but myths about homosexual persons and need to be educated. She began speaking at churches and community groups.
Galvanized by the roll back of gay rights legislation in Florida–the infamous Anita Bryant campaign–Adele and her small group of parents marched in the 1977 Gay Pride Parade for the first time, and received the Grand Marshall’s award. Accepting it she said, “This is only the beginning of our fight to save our children from bigotry.”
The advocacy work of PFLAG Los Angeles picked up steam in 1978. Proposition 6, the Briggs Initiative, threatened the teaching jobs of gays, lesbians and those who supported them. In response, a group of 30 PFLAG Los Angeles parents wrote “About Our Children” the first PFLAG publication, to counter a fear-mongering campaign with facts. They printed 175,000 copies and distributed 150,000 to California voters helping to defeat the measure.
In 1979 Adele testified before the Los Angeles City Council in support of the Los Angeles Gay Rights Ordinance, which outlawed discrimination in housing and employment. Although highly controversial, the measure passed by 13 to 2, making Los Angeles the 44th municipality in the country to have such protections.
At the historic LGBT March on Washington in 1979, marking the 10th anniversary of the Stonewall riots and the birth of the gay rights movement, Adele was one of only two parents to speak from the main podium at the Washington Monument. She wowed the crowd declaring: “We parents of gays help one another and our family members to understand, to learn, and to be free from fear. Together, we parents and our children challenge the attitudes that destroy, attitudes that have caused violence, bloodshed and suicide. . .We are silent no longer!!!“
Leaders of other similar parent groups at the March began to contemplate the advantages of having a national federation, giving them a bigger platform for advocacy and a voice in the national political debate about LGBT issues. In 1981 at the Starr home, a meeting of representatives from 20 parent groups came up with articles of incorporation, by-laws, a five member board, and a president for the new organization, now officially called Parents Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays–PFLAG. That president was Adele Starr.
As a spokesperson for PFLAG, Adele attended the 1981 White House Conference on Families, where she made sure participants knew that many families included loved and cherished gay members. She became a regular at subsequent meetings of the White House Conference on Youth, and served on its advisory board by appointment of Mayor Tom Bradley.
In her campaign to end ignorance about issues of sexual orientation, Adele also involved the national media. Placing a cold call to Dear Abby, Adele introduced her to PFLAG as a resource for families dealing with homosexuality. Abby gave the organization a plug in her column, and 7500 letters arrived on Adele’s doorstep. She and her cadre of faithful parents and LGBT persons answered every one personally.
Adele was president of PFLAG Los Angeles until 1994. Even after her health confined her to her home, she answered the organization’s helpline, and continued to get regular reports from chapter officers until her death in 2010.
Over the years, one chapter has grown into nine sister-chapters in the greater Los Angeles area. PFLAG Los Angeles continues its monthly support meetings on the third Wednesday of every month in its historic Westwood location and on the second Thursday of every month in its new Silver Lake satellite chapter. Plans are underway for a Spanish language meeting in the San Fernando Valley.
Like Adele, we go wherever and whenever anyone invites us to speak about our families and their rights, but we now have a Speakers Bureau with more than 30 active members to spread the word at middle and high schools, colleges, businesses and community organizations, reaching over 3,000 people a year. In addition to the Speakers Bureau and the educational programs at our meetings, we use our website and social media to provide resources and information about sexual orientation and gender identity. Our website alone gets over 4,000 page requests a week and receives emails from as far away as Poland and Shanghai. We lobby in Sacramento and Washington, most recently during the PFLAG National Convention in October of 2011. We were active participants in the fight against Proposition 8, and are strong supporters of the Fair Education Act, which is currently under fire.
Safe Schools work has become a priority for PFLAG Los Angeles and our sister chapters. To address this problem, PFLAG chapters in Southern California have formed the Safe Schools Initiative enabling us to share ideas, information, and resources to effect real change in schools. Some of the projects include developing a protocol for visits to school superintendents and school boards, finding innovative ways to support Gay/Straight alliances in local schools, and creating curricula to help teachers implement the Fair Education Act, which mandates the teaching of LGBT history in California public schools.
Above all, PFLAG Los Angeles is a safe and welcoming place for all LGBT persons and their straight family and friends. When a weeping mother smiles, when a struggling teen finds hope and a voice, when families at odds grow closer together, our mission is fulfilled. As Adele would say, “That’s the miracle.”