A letter to the PFLAG Family from Brian Bond, Executive Director

Dear PFLAG Family:

June is usually a time to celebrate, honor, and hold up our LGBTQ+ loved ones with marches, parades, and PFLAG hugs. But this year, the idea of celebrating Pride feels impossible.

What feels right is to go back to Pride’s beginnings, which were centered in a battle for recognition of basic human dignity, equality, and justice. Led by pioneers like Marsha P. Johnson, a Black transgender woman; Sylvia Rivera, a Latinx gay liberation and transgender rights activist and sex worker; and Miss Major, a transgender elder and activist, LGBTQ+ activists rose up against injustice, brutality, disparate treatment, and violence at the hands of law enforcement. And in 1972, Jeanne Manford, a mother and ally, joined in, raised her voice, and lent her privilege to the fight.

PFLAG’s history is deeply connected to Pride’s history--and that history is embedded in allyship.

The murders of George Floyd, Tony McDade, McKinsley LaKeith Lincoln, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and more than a dozen LGBTQ+ people of color this year, are emblematic of the brutal truths of violence, systemic and social racism, and white supremacy to which Black people have been subjected--and have been all too aware of--for hundreds of years, and to which many white people are just starting to open their eyes. Watching George Floyd’s Homegoing today reminds me, too, that even the best-intentioned people--including me--have much to learn.

On top of this, the COVID-19 pandemic--which has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives--has disproportionately affected communities of color in deaths, unemployment, poverty, food scarcity, housing insecurity, education disruption, reduced access to healthcare, and increased acts of violence and racism.

I know many of you feel powerless to change what is currently happening in this country. It’s understandable.

But it’s not acceptable. We must continue to draw on our strong history of allyship and invest deeply in this fight for justice. As PFLAGers, we must be part of the catalyst and mechanism to produce systematic changes to institutionalized racism in all forms.

PFLAG National has signed onto a letter of unity committing us to embracing anti-racism work and ending white supremacy. I signed us on to this letter because I knew that for PFLAG, this would not be performative activism: PFLAG National has, in fact, been in a years-long transformative process on these issues, including diversifying our staff and board, and investing and spending more money with African-American and minority-owned businesses and institutions. PFLAG National will continue this intentional work. As PFLAG members and supporters, we know you will, too.

It is not uncommon for me to hear from parents and families in Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPoC) communities that they live in fear for their kids more because of the color of their skin than because of their sexual orientation or gender identity and expression. If we aren’t doing the work to support all families in the face of these fears--their worst fears--then we aren’t doing our job as PFLAG.

It is imperative that PFLAGers take meaningful action in support of racial justice, and against systemic racism, white supremacy, and police brutality.  Let’s center the needs and voices of BIPoC communities in this work; anti-racist work is pro-LGBTQ+ work. As an organization that has been disproportionately underpopulated by BIPoc families, let’s start as allies, grow into partners, and build community. And to our BIPoC loved ones in our PFLAG family: We love you, we hear you, we want to CONTINUE hearing from you, and we will continue doing the critical work of checking our implicit biases, examining our internal structures and operations, and centering anti-racism work as part of our mission to become not just an inclusive organization, but one where all families belong.

These issues have been centuries in the making, and they will not be resolved overnight. But, as members of an organization born out of pain and love, we are well positioned to rise to meet this moment and become the allies our history demands of us.

Yours in PFLAG Pride and power,

Brian K. Bond, Executive Director
PFLAG National