A Weekend to remember

FFLAG's 20th Anniversary Conference 'Coming Out 2013: Parents, Families and LGBT Communities was an overwhelming success. Parents from across the UK met with FFLAG volunteers and supporters in Birmingham to reflect on and celebrate the work of FFLAG.

Chair of Trustees, Sue Allen welcomed delegates and FFLAG Patrons Michael Cashman CBE, MEP, Professor Ian Rivers and Peter Tatchell to the conference. Michael, Ian and Peter each made inspiring and thoughtful speeches, whilst messages of support came from Patrons Deidre Sanders, Baroness Massey of Darwen and Sir Ian McKellen CH, CBE.
A series of morning and afternoon workshops set the delegates thinking and led to deeper understanding about issues such as LGBT youth homelessness, transgender and faith issues and the importance of education. The topic of homophobic bullying and the experience of being the parent of a gay child held the attention of many delegates.
As one of the delegates commented 'The amount of emotion in the conference room was incredible' – and no more so than when one of the 'children' spoke at the end of the first day of the conference. Lisa Allen, daughter of Sue and Trustee Bob Allen, spoke on behalf of the LGBT children, saying what it meant to have the love and support of understanding parents. There were not many dry eyes in the room!
A celebratory dinner held on the Saturday evening allowed everyone to relax and enjoy themselves.
Sunday's activities included a visit to Birmingham LGBT Centre, a preview screening of a film ,'My Child', and a parents focus group.
The closing plenary with the FFLAG Trustees was followed by a networking lunch and lots of hugs and goodbyes.
It was a truly memorable weekend and, as many parents said, it gave us the inspiration and renewed energy to carry on fighting to ensure that all our children grow up in a world respectful of diversity.
The Trustees would like to thank all those who gave so generously of their time including photographer Jeremy Attwood, workshop facilitators and volunteers Lisa Allen, Jolyon Atkinson, Esther Burgess, Margaret Evans, Larna Gallier, Emily Kent, LGBT Consortium volunteers including Jason Broome, Jack Peat and Paul Roberts; Tim Sigsworth, Dave Tomlinson, Maureen Walsh, Victoria Whitmore and Andrew Wilson.
Especial thanks to Patrons Michael Cashman, Ian Rivers and Peter Tatchell for their enthusiastic support over the weekend and their
kind words! And a special thank you to all the staff at the Thistle Hotel Birmingham, who were simply amazing.
'Coming Out 2013 – Parents, Families and LGBT Communites' was made possible through the generosity of Awards for All, Big Lottery funding.
'What is so important and almost unique about FFLAG is that its work is based in love and understanding.
The world is a better place because of its work.' Sir Ian McKellen


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