|PFLAG Atlanta invites you to be ‘Out in the Garden’|
|Written by Dyana Bagby|
|Friday, 29 April 2011 00:00|
When Conal Charles, 32, decided in 2009 to come out to his parents, he sought help from PFLAG Atlanta. Today, he’s the co-president of the organization that works to “support, educate and advocate” for LGBT people, their families and loved ones.
“I found out about PFLAG Atlanta on the web,” he says. “I was looking for ways to help come out to my parents. I was born and raised in India and my parents live in India. I ended up writing a very long email to them and then my mom called and we talked. And they are visiting me next month to go to their first PFLAG meeting.”
Charles said the help and support he received from the local chapter of PFLAG — a national organization with more than 500 chapters across the U.S. — prompted him to become actively involved. Most members are also giving back because of the help they received.
“This is truly a grassroots organization,” Charles says. “PFLAG was formed originally to support primarily parents, families and friends but we also are there for LGBTQ people. We’ve had people coming to meetings for more than 20 years,” he says.
Currently, PFLAG Atlanta is trying to “launch” itself again into the eyes of city residents who know there is something called PFLAG but may not realize there is a local chapter.
“We want the Atlanta LGBTQ community to know we are there as a resource,” he says.
Recently, Atlanta Police Department LGBT liaison Brian Sharp spoke at a PFLAG Atlanta meeting — he and his partner, Daniel, are “card-carrying members” of the group, Charles says.
In the past, PFLAG Atlanta has held a social event and fundraiser called the “Secret Garden Party” at a private residence — the name of the event was a fun way to pique people’s interest.
After consideration, however, the name of the event set for May 14 this year is called “Out in the Garden” to reflect the organization’s mission of supporting people coming out, Charles says.
“The only way to change hearts and minds is by coming out to people,” he says.
The event is family-friendly and accessible and open to all people interested in learning more and supporting PFLAG Atlanta.
“Seeing parents come in to a meeting and feeling like they are finally home is a great reward,” Charles says.
Top photo: PFLAG Atlanta members march in the annual Atlanta Pride parade every year in what the group’s co-president calls an ‘incredible experience.’ (Courtesy photo)
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