Editor’s note: This is the third in a series of Pride Month Q&As with area individuals and groups serving the LGBTQ+ community. Members of the newly formed Clarkston PFLAG chapter shared details about their work and their hopes for the group as it starts offering twice-monthly meetings for LGBTQ+ people, their friends, family and allies.
Inland 360: Starting with the basics, what does PFLAG stand for?
Chelsea Cannard: PFLAG was founded in 1972, and orginally the acronym meant "Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays." In 2014, the organization officially changed to simply PFLAG to accurately reflect PFLAG members, those PFLAG serves and the inclusive work PFLAG has been doing for decades. PFLAG has more than 400 chapters across the country and aims to create a caring, just and affirming world for LGBTQ+ people and those who love them.
360: When did the Clarkston chapter form, and what are your plans?
Elisabeth Murillo: PFLAG Clarkston is brand new. We formed in May 2022 and held our first PFLAG meeting on June 6. Our mission is to foster an equitable and inclusive space where every LGBTQ+ person is safe, celebrated, empowered and loved in the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley. We hope to do this through support meetings, education, outreach and advocacy.
360: Tell us more about the PFLAG meetings.
Elisabeth Murillo: PFLAG Clarkston meetings are a safe place where LGBTQ+ people, their friends, family and allies can gather to discuss experiences, issues and other topics related to being LGBTQ+, raising an LGBTQ+ child or being a strong community ally. Meetings will be held every first and third Tuesday of the month. Our next meeting is from 6-8 p.m. Tuesday (June 21) at the Chapman Room, 1465 Poplar St., Building B, in Clarkston.
360: Are there specific needs in the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley you're working to address?
Kris Law: PFLAG is working on an LGBTQ+ library for the valley, where people can check out books and other informational resources confidentially. They will be able to check them out during meetings. We will be accepting donations for our library during meetings, and other donations for PFLAG events can be made at this time also.
360: How can people connect with you and keep up with your events?
Chelsea Cannard: Like us on Facebook: PFLAG Clarkston; follow us on Instagram: PFLAG_Clarkston; or email us any time at PFLAGClarkston@gmail.com. We also frequently post updates to the LGBTQ+ LC Valley and Beyond Facebook group and lgbtqiap_lcvalleyandbeyond Instagram page.
360: What is your relationship with other LGBTQ+ groups in the area, such as Chroma LCV?
Meghan Pierce: Clarkston PFLAG and Chroma are both new organizations that want to provide as much support for the LGBTQ+ community as possible. PFLAG currently provides a support group setting, small events and resource information. Right now, members of PFLAG are working with members of Chroma to put on Celebrate Love (set for 4-9 p.m. July 9 at Lewiston’s Pioneer Park). Chroma does a lot of event planning, resource gathering and outreach for the LGBTQ+ community. We all work together.
360: What else would you like people to know?
Kris Law: We are always working on acceptance within our community, making safe spaces for our children in their schools and with our older population in the workforce or who are retired. One of our hopes is that businesses, schools, city council members, police forces, hospitals, parks and rec departments, churches and community members be brave and start voicing their acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community. We really feel it's time to be the one or the many who stand up and say we will no longer be fearful to say we have family members, we have friends, we have co-workers, church members, children who are a part of the LGBTQ+ community and that we support them, that we will be brave and not hide the fact that we accept the LGBTQ+ people in our lives.