PFLAG Blairsville is a local chapter of PFLAG National, a group which began in 1972 with the simple act of a mother publicly supporting her gay son. PFLAG is the nation’s largest LGBTQ family and ally organization. For more information about the evolution of the group, go to PFLAG National.
In 2003 Sandy and Tom Lane moved to North Georgia from Albuquerque, NM. As the mother of a child who had “come out” as lesbian, Sandy had volunteered with PFLAG Albuquerque since 1993, becoming president of the organization and then PFLAG New Mexico State Chair. When she moved to Blairsville, she continued to serve as a PFLAG member-at-large and local representative for this area. Numerous calls and emails demonstrated a pressing need for information and support. In 2009, a group came together who were willing to do the work of starting a PFLAG chapter. We found a welcoming place to meet and in 2010 held the first meeting of PFLAG Blairsville.
From the beginning, we held monthly meetings to carry out our goals of support, education and advocacy. Our meetings included programs by local and out of town speakers, media presentations, and targeted discussions along with ample time for support and socializing. By early 2011, our numbers had grown, we had marched in our first Atlanta Pride Parade, PFLAG Blairsville had become a Georgia non-profit corporation and an official PFLAG chapter with 501c3 status.
For the next several years we focused on educating ourselves, surveying the needs of the area and providing much-needed support. In 2013, three members of our group attended the PFLAG Georgia State Conference in Atlanta where we learned of emerging concerns for the wellbeing of transgender people. Two years later we sent four members to the National PFLAG Conference in Nashville, TN to expand our understanding and awareness of national efforts and to provide our future leaders the opportunity to acquire the skills necessary to lead a successful PFLAG chapter. Upon returning home, we presented a program to a meeting of local school counselors and provided them with helpful materials and suggestions which focused on the need for safe and nurturing learning environments for our LGBTQ children.
In June of 2015, we celebrated nationwide marriage equality, only to find ourselves, one year later, mourning the massacre of many LGBTQ people and their allies in Orlando, FL. The emergence of public discrimination against transgender people nationwide and locally along with the tragedy in Orlando, inspired action. In response, many in our area who care about fairness, equality and safety began looking to PFLAG Blairsville as the vehicle for local change. As attendance mushroomed we undertook initiatives to improve awareness of LGBTQ discrimination in our community and to take steps to create a community more loving and accepting of diversity.
Currently, we are partnering with local organizations who believe in providing support, education and advocacy for individuals and families who experience verbal bullying, physical abuse and other types of discrimination and we are reaching out to businesses, schools and spiritual communities to engage them in our efforts.
We believe our strength lies in our diversity and, if you agree, we invite you to join us.