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The Movement began in the early eighties when several groups of parents of gays sprang up in different parts of our Country. Then, following the 1979 March on Washington for Gay Rights, 26 parents from these groups met for the first time and the Movement was born --headquartered in Washington D.C.
In 1989 an entry in my checkbook register shows a contribution to P-FLAG in Orlando so that was about the time that Allene Baus was working very hard to get the Orlando Chapter started.

An article in the Sentinel appeared in regard to how Gay persons were regarded by local church pastors and their congregations. Seven or Eight churches of various banners had a speaker to express his or her church's views at the P-FLAG meeting. At that time P-FLAG met at the Friends Meeting House on Marks Street. This particular meeting filled the house! A special speaker of the evening was a long-time veteran of dealing with Gay persons and their relatives in the Washington D.C. area in a kindly, loving way. She was Paulette Goodman, PFLAG National President and the founding mother of Metro DC PFLAG, accompanied by her husband Leon. They had a lesbian daughter working for the Federal Government.

A few words about Paulette: she was born in France and experienced discrimination first hand. Her family was Jewish. Her father was a railroad worker and during WW II had to work under German orders.
We first met Paulette at this meeting in Orlando in 1989. We were immediately drawn to her -- a lively, witty, accomplished speaker -- an attractive lady with a big heart, especially for gay and lesbian people.

Soon the Chapter found a new home at the Orlando First United Methodist Church. (Jayne and Howard, as members of this church, were responsible for making these arrangements). They have been kind and helpful to our group through the years.

It has always been an amazement to me that the Chapter got through the first year and it would not have made it were it not for the dedication and energy of Allene Baus. All of us have benefited from that extra work she put into getting the Chapter off of the ground.

Perhaps two years later we scheduled a special event on a Saturday and invited Paulette to come speak to us at a motel on Highway 50. We invited people from nearby states to come and plan a weekend in Orlando. The response was disappointingly small but six of us spent a profitable day together and had good discussions and learned much from each other regarding our lives and the lives of our loved ones.

The six were Paulette, Allene Baus, Howard and myself, and two lesbian ladies from Louisiana.

The two ladies were in their forties. One a nose-and-throat specialist. The other a retired librarian.  They had a large home in New Orleans where they gave temporary shelter to responsible gay and lesbian students who needed substitute parents for a while. There was a great exchange of ideas with them and with Paulette.

Paulette wanted to go and visit with some gay and lesbian folks. She would assure them that P-FLAG offered them hope that life could be better for them and that she personally loved them and was personally working on ways to help. So the six of us had a quiet dinner and decided on Parliament House. So we went.

Hearing that Paulette was in the Dining Room, and recognizing who she was, and desiring to have everyone see her and hear her, (Paulette is a small lady) they cleared a table for her to stand on. Her audience was very happy to see her and much conversation took place.

Slowly we gained new members and attendees. Some folks came and stayed with us until they were more at ease with a gay family member. Others stayed with us until they were at ease with their situation and then decided they wanted to pitch in and take hold of some part of the work we were trying to do in the community -- they would ask "what can I do?" Some of those early stay-with-it type of folks were: Terri Teeter, Chris Alexander, Sue O'Reilly, Judy Adamson, Tommy Manley, David and Gail Walbridge, John Slusarz Jr., Lois Ryder, Michael and Judy Bass, K C Caldarazzo, Robert Caldarazzo, Howard and Jayne Elder, Pat Johnston, Mark and Gloria Merwarth, Randi Moseler, Michael Koltnow, Mary Margaret and John Barbour, Helen Susky, Paul and Adrienne Grossman, Michael Johnson, Doug Brucker, and DJ Kaplan.

A few years later we had another group of folks who have stayed with P-FLAG and contributed, including Pat Padilla, Becky Bauer, Enid and Syd Jackowitz, Mary Jane Halyard, Mike McKee, Jack Flynn, Diane Harper Merkt, Donna Verali, Rosie Branciforte, Judy Varblow, Jeff Pudwill.

Other activities our Chapter members have undertaken:

1) As resource people for college students in the Human Sexuality classes, spoke before several classes.
2) Fund Raising to support a supply of factual information in publications to give to people.
3) Worked with Hope & Help, Centaur, and church organizations to provide personal needs such as soap, Kleenex, toothpaste, food, and maybe a little joy item at Holiday Season to ill and HIV-positive folks. Also contribute used clean linens to end-of-life facilities.
4) Provide a lending library of valuable books and videos, for use by parents and gays themselves.
5) Published a Monthly Newsletter.
6) Made presentations to the business community of Orlando.
7) Helped with fund raising for Channel 24.
8) Took part in seminars to improve our methods in helping gays and lesbians.
9) Took part in seminars to help teachers, Principals get educated regarding teen-age people in the junior high and senior high school.
10) Continue to man the P-FLAG Hotline (telephone) so troubled people can get help readily.

We have had good leadership over the years, including A1lene Baus, Michael Koltnow, Becky Bauer, Randi Moseler, and now two folks will handle the leadership, Pat Padilla and Syd Jackowitz.

Four persons whom I know of during the time I have been in the Chapter have died.  They are:

1. Judy Adamson's oldest son
2. Howard and Jayne Elder's oldest son
3. Joe Curtis a religious newspaper writer
4. Howard Thornton, a member of Orlando Gay Chorus and previous to that a member of our P-FLAG Chapter.

This is a very brief history of my recollection of Orlando P-FLAG. We hope we have not left somebody out -- it would most certainly NOT have been intentional. Memory is fallible! Howard and I have been very happy to be associated with these folks in trying to do something positive in the gay and lesbian communities.

Our mission statement covers it all:
"Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays promotes the health and well-being of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered persons,
their families and friends through: support, to cope with an adverse society; education, to enlighten an ill-informed public; and advocacy,
to end discrimination and to secure equal civil rights. Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays provides opportunity for
dialogue about sexual orientation and gender identity and acts to create a society that is healthy and respectful of human diversity."

Additional information on Paulette Goodman:

In 1990, PFLAG President Paulette Goodman sent a letter to Barbara Bush asking for Mrs. Bush’s support.  The first lady’s personal replied, stating, “I firmly believe that we cannot tolerate discrimination against any individuals or groups in our country.  Such treatment always brings with in pain and perpetuates intolerance.”  Inadvertently given to the Associated Press, her comments caused a political maelstrom and were perhaps the first gay-positive comments ever to come out of the White House.


Last modified onWednesday, 16 September 2015 14:27
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