Celebration Dinner at the House Of Lords

On Friday 16th June 2017, the Trustees of FFLAG will be hosting a dinner in the Peers’ Dining Room of the House of Lords to celebrate the passing of the equalities legislation we were set up to fight for and to share with you how we now plan to build on this platform to improve attitudes in society towards our LGBT loved ones.

We will start at 6.15p.m. with a private tour of the Palace of Westminster.  It is not expected that either House will be sitting at that time but both Chambers will be specially opened so that we can go in.   The tour will also visit Westminster Hall, the oldest part of the palace dating back to the 1080s, and the Central, Peers’ and Members’ lobbies.

After the tour, we will hold a drinks reception in the Peers’ Guest Room before taking our seats in the Peer’s Dining Room.   After dinner, there will be speeches from our host, Rt Hon Prof the Lord Norton of Louth, our Patron, the Lord Cashman, and our Chair, Sorrel Atkinson, about the latest developments at FFLAG.

We plan to finish around 10:30p.m.

The cost of the event is £125.00 per head.  Booking arrangements are as follows: -

a)    Drop a note to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. confirming how many tickets you want. To reduce correspondence, please include any special requirements regarding diet, mobility or anything else next to the full name of each guest and the postal address for the tickets.   Please also let us know if you or any in your party are not planning to join the tour, but intend to come direct to the reception at 7:15p.m.

b)    You will receive a confirmation that tickets are still available and have been reserved for you, together with details of the bank account into which to make your payment.

c)    To keep administration to a minimum your payment will not be acknowledged but you will receive your tickets by post within 14 days of payment.

Dress code is lounge suit or similar (e.g. jacket and tie).

We hope you will be able to join us for what we are sure will be a fantastic evening.


FFLAG 2017 - becoming trans inclusive 

Historically Friends and Families of Lesbians and Gays has, since 1993, been a charity dedicated to supporting parents and their lesbian, gay and bisexual daughters and sons.  We have mostly been parents of LGB children ourselves and, as such, have felt most able to support those whose experiences are similar to our own.

But times change.  

Recent LGBT legislation in the UK such as the Equality Act 2010 and the legalisation of same-sex marriages in England, Wales and Scotland in 2014 have been very welcome.  Also, society in general and younger generations in particular have become more inclusive in their understanding of differing sexual orientation.  However, along with these changes, we have seen a substantial increase in the number of young people being referred to support services for help with transgender issues.

Many of the enquiries we currently receive from parents are from those with trans youngsters.  The difficulties trans youngsters face are not the same as those for LGB youngsters (who face issues relating to their sexuality), since theirs relate to their gender identity. However, the issues may indeed cross the boundaries of gender and sexuality which our society has so rigidly enforced. We have come to recognise that we are ill-prepared to provide the support for parents who this may affect and which we would like to do, but our desire is to work where the needs are greatest.

We have, therefore, decided to extend our remit to include support for family and friends of trans people.  It won’t happen overnight because we have a lot to learn and we want to get it right.  FFLAG has no paid staff and we are just seven trustees.  Local groups which are affiliated with us are becoming trans inclusive to varying degrees.

Initially we shall:

·       Update the FFLAG web site to include trans issues.

·       Work in partnership with trans organisations to avoid replicating their work.

·       Review and update our current literature and also produce new material, where appropriate, which will cover issues specific to trans matters.

·       Plan to appoint parents of trans youngsters to our Board of Trustees.

·       Allow inclusion of trans issues in our publications to be led by trans people themselves and their families. 

We are only too aware that we have been slow to respond to changing situations and apologise for that. We are not now setting ourselves up as the experts but rather are looking to those who have personally faced these situations themselves to work with us for the sake of those who are looking for help now.

If you would like to be a part of the work that FFLAG is doing, please contact us via the link on the front page. 



The Second International Conference of Parents with LGBTQI Children in Kiev

Bruce and Janet Kent were privileged to represent FFLAG at this two day conference in November. Their presence was generously made possible by the British Embassy in Kiev.
Representatives from 13 countries gathered in Ukraine’s capital city to focus on tolerance in religion and education for LGBT+ people.
Parents from as far apart as Belarus, Canada, Great Britain, Kyrgyzstan, Malta, Portugal, Russia, Sweden and Ukraine shared their deeply moving stories and professionals from various disciplines contributed up to date research highlighting ways to improve life for those affected by restrictive legislation and prejudice around the globe.
One lady told Janet how reading one father’s story on the FFLAG website was life changing for her and motivated her to begin to speak out on behalf of her gay son.   
Janet and Bruce also addressed the conference, describing the work FFLAG does, highlighting principles of best practice that we’ve learned over the years, and indicating where we believe more work needs to be done. 
We can easily take for granted the freedoms we enjoy in the UK to enjoy equality and the protection of law and also the access we have to information and support of all kinds.  Many of the parents at the conference came because they are starved of support for themselves and their LGBT+ loved ones and long to enjoy the freedoms that we do. 



Pride Cymru Youth Conference 2016

FFLAG was invited to participate in this year’s conference on the 15th October. Two trustees, Virginia and Jenny took part in a very interesting and challenging day focussing on coming out safely.
A variety of organisations representing parts of the LGBT+ community, such as Trans*form, Bi Cymru, Stonewall Cymru, Spectrum Project/ Rainbow Bridge were in attendance.
There were stimulating sessions on children’s rights, anxiety awareness, self-help and Wise Kids promoting positive and safe internet use for children, young people and those who support them.
In the afternoon we adjourned to a nearby cinema to watch the 2016 Iris Prize Youth Shorts nominations and vote for the film we considered best – well those in the audience under 25 could!
In FFLAG’s session Virginia and I talked about our work and plans for the future and then we had a Q and A. It began with a very moving tribute to FFLAG by a member of the audience and then the questions – stimulating, provoking, not always easy to answer, many from the young trans people present. 
So it had certainly been an interesting day – we learned a lot, met some lovely people and would like to thank Cath Harrison from Pride Cymru very much for inviting FFLAG to take part.


FFLAG Strategy

Over the summer, Bruce and Hugh visited the groups that had agreed to help FFLAG identify the key issues and challenges that face us nationally and locally. This consultation has been invaluable in clarifying what people believe should be FFLAG’s role nationally, internationally and, most importantly, in relation to affiliated groups around the UK, as shown by the diagram below.
Work is now under way to translate the feedback received from the consultation into a strategic plan. 

In 2017 we  will update everyone on the plan and our progress towards achieving it, when we will also seek further input on key issues such as diversity and trans where we have identified different approaches between affiliated groups that we think should be shared and reconciled.
A key message from our consultation is that local groups must decide for themselves what their priorities should be. FFLAG’s strategy respects that autonomy and recognises that our role at local level is essentially to support and co-ordinate resources for our “front line” groups to meet the continuing and the changing needs of families and friends.



RICS Coming out at Work event

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) regulate and promote the profession; maintaining the highest educational and professional standards in the industry. With offices covering the major political and financial centres around the globe, they are world renowned.
So FFLAG were very grateful to be invited to their “Coming Out at Work” evening panel discussion event on the 12th October in their prestigious headquarters building across the road from the Houses of Parliament.
Bruce Kent was able to attend and was delighted to see the rainbow flag proudly fluttering between the two RICS flags.
Professionals from across the industry were able to hear powerful testimonies from the panel of six as they related their own, sometimes harrowing, sometimes surprisingly easy, experiences of coming out at work. The true life stories were followed by an extended question and answer session.
It was clear that personal journeys vary widely and some have had painful opposition but the encouragement from the panel was that it was worth it for them and for those in future who will be following in their footsteps.
One panel member, a trans woman, described how terrifying it was the very first time she went to work in her new persona. It was difficult just getting out of the car on that first morning. The walk to the door and the ride up in the lift were full of dreadful thoughts about people’s possible reactions. She told us how she made it to her desk and breathed a sigh of relief but then later wondered if she dared get up and make herself a coffee mid morning. Who would she have to meet?
Every moment was frightening but she knew she had to make herself continue. It was two weeks of hell because of her own thoughts but, in fact, she found that everyone was amazingly accepting.
Testimonials like that are extremely encouraging and greatly appreciated.
Bruce was then able to tell them a little of the work of FFLAG, our vision and purpose. We aren’t yet, he said, at the place where we can pack up and go home saying “job done”. In fact, in the three months following the Brexit vote, reported homophobic crime has increased by a horrific 147%. So we want to become even more effective, working in partnership with others to support families and friends of all LGBT+ individuals and we are so grateful for the encouragement and support they give us. 
A bucket collection for FFLAG was then taken up and the generous proceeds will be used to further our work in the months ahead.



Trans Pride Southwest

Trans Pride South West had its inaugural celebration in Bristol over the long weekend of the 22nd to 25th September 2016.  The whole weekend was designed as a sister event to Trans Pride Brighton and the celebrations served to raise awareness of Trans issues and to celebrate diversity and have fun. There were many activities and events over the three day period and Bruce and Janet Kent were invited to join them at the Community celebration on the Sunday.
All were equally warmly welcomed, Trans, Intersex, Non-Binary, Gender variant and Queer people along with family, friends and allies. The people we met were some of the most colourful and enthusiastic and positive individuals we have known.  It seemed like many of the movers and shakers had come together to get things off the ground.
We met Katie Yeomans (pictured below with Bruce and Janet) who had come all the way from Portsmouth to support the event.  Katie only started her transition in late 2014 at the tender age of 61!  Since then she has been on a tireless “positive Transgender Awareness Campaign”, appearing on quite a few radio and television programmes.  On the way to the event, for example, she contacted Bristol Radio and they were more than pleased to interview her at length before she arrived.  Her aim is to inspire all LGBT people and especially transgender people and she certainly is doing that.
Bruce, Janet and Katie at Trans Pride South West  25/09/2016



Swindon Transgender Group

We also met Jez Farmer of Swindon Transgender Group which has been supporting trans people and their families since 1989.  Jez told us of some of the insensitive questions that people ask of trans men and women sometimes in a coffee shop or just walking through town.  Questions such as “What surgeries have they had?”  What genitals are in their pants?” “What is their sexual orientation?” “What is their real name?”  The sort of invasion of a stranger’s privacy that one would never dream of doing to a heterosexual person.  
Talking to so many people, we were made more aware than ever that there is still a huge need to educate and inform the general public about Trans matters and to support individuals and their families and loved ones at every stage in their journey.
Our thanks go to Lexie and the team for making this event possible and we hope that this will become a regular event in Bristol and encourage other cities to follow suit in the future.


Pride 2016

Parents and family groups all over the country had a lot of fun celebrating their pride in their loved ones this year. Here are some highlights!


In July, support group Ricochet took part in Bournemouth's pride festival, Bourne Free. Members wearing specially designed t-shirts emblazoned with 'proud parent' on the front and the group's contact details on the back carried the rainbow flag at the heart of the procession.

Group leader Colette Hill said: “This was our third year at Bourne Free. People really appreciated us being out and proud parents and we always get a fantastic response from the crowd.”

Bristol Families and Friends

Parents from Bristol Families and Friends attended Bristol Pride once again. This year saw a new venue which enabled it to be an even bigger and better pride.

For the first time they marched proudly through the streets of Bristol with the FFLAG banner and were surprised at the amount of people stood supporting as they all marched along.

As always there was much interest at their stand, mostly from young people who stopped to have a chat.


Parents of Jewish Gays and Lesbians

This year the group marched at Pride in London - something they had never done before but given the recent Orlando shootings, wanted to be there to show support and fly the banner for Parents of Jewish Gays and Lesbians.

Alison's son David was over from America so they went as a mother and son duo, together holding up high our home-made ‘Parents Care’ placard in support of Keshet UK and the Jewish Gays and Lesbians Group (JGLG). They joined up with the Keshet UK group and had a great time marching and networking with other faith groups.

Weston-Super-Mare Pride

FFLAG parents Janet and Bruce Kent and Sue and Bob Allen had a stand at Weston-Super-Mare Pride. What a fantastic day it was, very family orientated with lots of children with their parents, siblings and friends having fun.

FFLAG Trustee Bruce Kent was asked to say a few words about FFLAG and was greeted with warm applause. They met many wonderful people - the sun even made an appearance and decided to stay! A great time was had by all.

We had an incredible time representing FFLAG at Cornwall Pride, Pride in London and other events this summer and we can’t wait to do it all again next year.



LUSH flies the FFLAG in Solihull

Once again we are so grateful to LUSH for supporting FFLAG.  Katie and her wonderful team at their Solihull shop volunteered to donate the proceeds from their Charity Pots to FFLAG during the weekend of Birmingham Pride at the end of May.

Ryan and Natalie, the Charity Pot Coordinators, and the whole team enthusiastically set about promoting the Charity Pots and telling people about our work.  They set aside an area at the front of the shop where customers could come and shape their own unique “Creamy Candy Bubble Bar”.


All the proceeds went to support the work of FFLAG.  It wasn’t just the youngsters who had creative fun either.

Bruce and Janet Kent from FFLAG joined them on the Saturday and were also given (along with frequent cups of tea), a spot where they could talk to customers about our work and give them helpful material.  Our huge thanks go out to the whole team for making it a joyful occasion.   They did us proud, decking out the shop with FFLAG posters and literature.  Ryan even sported a sparkling golden beard for the occasion!  What more could we have asked for?

Rear - Janet, Bruce, Ryan | Front - Katie, Louise


Louise, Katie, Ryan and Kirstie from Silihull LUSH



LGBT visits State Street in London's Docklands

The view from across the Thames
State Street was founded in 1792 and is the second oldest financial institution in the United States of America. The company’s headquarters are in Boston but it has offices in 29 countries around the world.  They are a huge American worldwide financial services holding company responsible for around $28 trillion of assets.
State Street Corporation has a buoyant State Street Pride (LGBT & Allies) group who, jointly with their UK Families Network, invited FFLAG to a lunchtime event at their London offices in Canary Wharf on April the 14th.
The aim of the lunch & learn event was for FFLAG to offer advice and support to potential parents of LGBT children, inform them about the work of FFLAG and where parents could find more information/ support when needed.
Two FFLAG Trustees, Virginia Field and Bruce Kent were pleased to attend the event which was simultaneously broadcast by live video link to the State Street offices in Edinburgh, Luxembourg, Munich, Paris, and five different office locations in Eire.
Bruce mentioned that it was the first time he had been asked to speak specifically to potential parents of LGBT youngsters and how pleased he was to be able to do so.  Too many parents, he said, are totally unprepared for that moment when their youngster says, “Mum, Dad, I’m gay” and can easily not react in the most helpful way as a result.  
If they had looked into the subject beforehand and come to learn that being LGBT isn’t a sickness that needs curing and that sexuality and gender identity aren’t lifestyle choices they would have saved themselves and their offspring much heartache.
Virginia and Bruce both went on to tell their own personal stories and tell the group about the resources that are now available to parents and family members in the UK and about the work that FFLAG is currently doing.  There followed a question and answer session and it was clear to both Virginia and Bruce that there is a growing need for support for Trans youngsters and their families.
The presentations were well received with much positive feedback from the delegates and State Street has asked to continue to work with FFLAG in the future.
Virginia and Bruce



LGBT in the Family

FFLAG was invited to Herbert Smith Freehill (HSF)’s ‘LGBT in the Family’ panel event, part of their recent Global Diversity and Inclusion Week. Trustee Sorrel Atkinson and son Jolyon were asked to be on panel along with Tuvia Borok co-founder of P3:Proud.Professional.Parents and Dario Parente trustee of New Family Social. Jill Chung, co-chair of HSF’s LGBT network chaired the event. This was the first joint event that HSF LGBT and Family Networks had ever hosted.


It was an excellent event with lively and interesting exchanges of experiences – from being a parent of a gay son, a son’s coming out story, the experiences of being a gay dad and how supportive and aware schools are of the different family backgrounds of their pupils. The Q and A session was followed by lots of conversations with individuals sharing their own stories.

A huge thank you to all at HSF for their hospitality and for making it such a memorable evening. 

From left, Dario, Tuvia, Jill, Jolyon and Sorrel



Arm in Arm in Newton Abbot

FFLAG parents Sue Allen, Janet Kent and Bruce Kent attended the launch of Arm in Arm, a regular event set up to tackle the damaging effects of loneliness and social isolation in the over 50s in Devon's LGBT community.

Ex-soldier James Wharton author of "Out in the Army - My Life as a Gay Soldier" spoke about his life in the army, the homophobia, as well as the 6 weeks he spent serving with Prince Harry, who is a strong straight ally for LGBT rights.

We also met up with Carol who runs Transfigurations, a support group for transgender and or gender variant people, their parents and wider family and their partners. Carol transitioned over 40 years ago, so has great understanding and insight into issues that might be faced.
Although the group is based in Torquay, their confidential telephone helpline is national,
07476 15 17 17. It is open Sunday, Monday and Wednesday (except 1st Wednesday of every month) from 6pm – midnight. For more information visit:

 We wish all involved with Arm in Arm every success with their ongoing monthly meetings. We certainly enjoyed an excellent launch event! Thank you for inviting us.



FFLAG thanks the LGBT Consortium

FFLAG is a well-known and respected charity across the UK and yet people are usually surprised when they learn how small an organization we actually are in terms of people and resources.  Not many realize that we rely entirely on voluntary contributions to enable us to provide our services to anyone who needs them.

Sometimes the task seems daunting. 

So we would like to take this opportunity to heartily thank our friends at the LGBT Consortium for being there for us and so many others as well, because they host the largest network of LGBT groups, projects and organizations in the UK.

Over the years they have been there for us in terms of advice, training, information, linking in with others and yes, sometimes a friendly shoulder to lean on.

The Consortium’s Annual Conference and AGM was held on January 23rd and 24th and Bruce and Janet Kent were able to attend on behalf of FFLAG this year. 

Paul Roberts, the LGBT Consortium’s CEO, was recently awarded the OBE in the New Year Honours List for his outstanding services to the sector.  He is pictured here (on the left) with Greg Ussher, The Consortium’s President congratulating him during the conference for his work.

Paul has personally been a great friend to FFLAG and has supported us in countless ways over the years.  Specifically recently, as FFLAG has begun a major reorganization and review of its activities, Paul has been meeting with the Trustees with encouragement and wise counsel. 








Paul Roberts and Greg Ussher


The Annual Conference was a weekend of Bitesize Workshops each led by different members of the Consortium themselves who were willing to share some of their experiences and expertise with others. There was advice and information about such topics as getting the best out of social media, helping LGBT+ people living in rural areas, finances, reaching younger people, project management, grassroots campaigning, LGBT and asylum issues and many others including getting the most of what the Consortium has to offer small charities like our own.

Many new contacts and friendships were made and FFLAG is all the stronger for this association.



January 2016 - The Church Of England remains in a time warp.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby and the Anglican Primates confirm they have no intention of recognising gender or sexuality equality

The hopes of many LGBTI Christians have been brutally dashed by their leaders' recent decision to keep their institutional homophobia.  The progressive Episcopol Churches in the USA and Canada have been censured and so the abuses around the world are officially being allowed to continue.

FFLAG fully supports gender and sexuality equality.  Below are some of the letters written to the Archbishop from FFLAG supporters.


Dear Archbishop Justin,

I write as the parent of 2 children who both identify as gay.  I have been a committed communicant member of the Anglican Church, who brought up her children in this faith. I find myself now questioning why, when so much hurt and judgement is meted out to them, and indeed me as their mother, by the church? I now feel out of communion following the recent events at the Primates’ conference. I have felt on the edge for years – balancing between the LGBT community and the rejecting church. My husband of 47 years is not a Christian and wonders why I bother to stay with it.

My dismay this week is at the decision to exclude the Episcopal Churches of America from any decision-making or discussions in the Anglican communion for three years. They have been pioneers for Christ in moving the Anglican Church forward in its journey towards less bigotry and more understanding of the love of Jesus which is for all people, irrespective of their sexual orientation. Your official pronouncement has side-lined these holy people who were making an obvious success of more acceptance of LGBTI people in the Anglican church - a good role model for less enlightened dioceses.  Surely this decision only strengthens those who would discriminate against and punish – violently in some countries - those of minority sexual orientations. These GAFCON bishops are still not happy with your judgment and will never compromise. Their interpretation of the Biblical passages they choose to select is flawed and they are not open or able to listen to any other interpretations. They are the leaders in the Anglican communion now, by the decision made this week. Were there any LGBT people, or any women involved in the primates’ decision?

I was, however, greatly heartened to read the Bishop of New York’s robust response to the ‘consequences’ you meted out to them: the consequences of their Dioceses offering ordination to gay men (which they have been doing since 2003, so this is a very late reaction!) and also allowing same-sex marriages to be celebrated in church. These are not behaviours for which punishment should be given.  The Right Reverend Andrew M. L. Dietsche assures and reassures the LGBT people in his diocese that he will never regret the decisions he has made to provide the fullest possible inclusion for all people in his diocese in the church’s common life: full access to the sacraments of the church – notably marriage and ordination. I wish that you as Archbishop could see how right, encouraging and Christ-like this is. Rev Andrew thanks God for the good learnings and gifts that have come to his churches as they have tried to love more expansively in a Christ-like way. He writes that he will continue firm in his convictions to embrace the full and diverse community of brothers and sisters in New York. He has seen God bless the whole church as his church sought to bless those who had been marginalised for years.

If I withdraw, as today I have considered, from the Deanery and Diocesan Synods on which I serve, it will be a parallel situation, as it is for those churches which are sanctioned. Who will be there if I don’t go, to speak up for the LGBTQI people in our midst? 

I pray you will rethink your inequitable decision. You have side-lined the positive, successful dioceses of the communion and chosen to side with the mistaken negative fundamentalists.

Yours in Christ,

Margaret Evans (Mrs)

An open letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury 

Dear Justin,

Like you, I want to do all I can to prevent more people like Leelah Alcorn from taking their own lives.  She was only 14 years old in 2014 but was rejected as a transgender girl by her devoutly religious Christian parents.  So she just walked out in front of an HGV.  Bobby Griffiths died at the age of twenty when he let himself fall off a bridge in the path of an eighteen wheeler.  Again, this was because of his mother’s fundamentalist Christian hatred of homosexuality.  

Many others are continuing to suffer from depression, self-loathing, alienation and fear or they begin to self-harm or attempt suicide or get caught up in unhealthy relationships and lifestyles because they are rejected for who they are by their nuclear and church families.

I believe that questions of sexuality and gender within the Anglican Communion are becoming more and more urgent. So, before your planned special meeting of the Primates of the Anglican Communion in Canterbury beginning next week, I want to write to encourage you and to let you know that I trust that you will ultimately make wise and loving decisions that will bless your congregations and ultimately millions of others around the world.

You don’t know me personally.  I have many Anglican friends but I am not an Anglican.  In fact, I have pastored Pentecostal churches before resigning and leaving the denomination because I could not in good conscience support a church family that was abusive towards LGBT Christians.

You have called the primates together this January to discuss amongst other issues human sexuality.  You clearly have a central desire to hold the communion of Anglicans together despite their differences in doctrinal understanding.  You were quoted in the Anglican Communion News Service bulletin of September 16th 2015 as saying, “A 21st-century Anglican family must have space for deep disagreement.”

Why must it? 

Surely you recognise that the differences in belief amongst Anglicans are fundamental to their faith!  Some believe that sex outside of marriage between a man and his wife is sinful and leads to eternal damnation.  To expect such sincere believers to fellowship with those who they believe abuse this law of God is not blessing them.  Some others believe that God accepts LGBT and heterosexual Christians equally and that to refuse people full and equal membership and participation in the life and ministry of the church is abusive and cannot be tolerated.  To expect such sincere believers to fellowship with such is like requiring a woman to stay in a relationship with a man who abuses her and her children.  Now, I appreciate that you hold the traditional Anglican viewpoint but that you want each side to accept the other and focus on what they have in common rather than what separates them.

They can’t do that Justin. You will end up pleasing no-one.

The prophet Amos asked the question in Amos 3:3, “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?”  My answer to that is “No”.  But they can separate honourably, respecting one another’s sincerity and hopefully in time accepting one another as brothers who see things differently.

Are you a shepherd of God’s flock or a politician?  Why would a Christian minister try to hold in communion two groups of people who hold diametrically opposing and mutually offensive beliefs? It blesses neither.  Are buildings, institutions, numbers and money more important than people?  The divide is not just between different countries but within congregations and even families as well. 

Wouldn’t it be healthier for all concerned if there were separate congregations that people could join that were clearly inclusive or clearly not? Then there would be church families where people were neither respectively abused nor offended?  You can’t just do this and pretend you are still one big happy family.

Are you aware of how many of your people in positions of leadership are afraid to speak out what they truly believe?  This is a matter of great shame.

How many more youngsters must die because Christian leaders don’t stand up for the truth?  Lizzie Lowe was 14 when she hanged herself in a park near her home in Didsbury, Manchester in September 2014.  She was afraid to tell her parents that she was gay.  They were all members of St James and Emmanuel Church.  She clearly didn’t believe she would be accepted for who she was.  How tragic!  Her parents said afterwards that they would have accepted her.  The leaders of her church said, ”We believe that we are an inclusive and welcoming church…had she felt able to talk to us, she would have found love, acceptance and all the tools at her disposal to help her on her journey.”

Was Lizzie solely to blame for her totally unnecessary death then?  Did not her church leaders have the responsibility to make abundantly clear to all their people that they were fully “inclusive”, if, indeed, that was the case?  Do you not personally have the responsibility to see that churches under your leadership make it very clear that they are a safe, fully accepting haven for these little ones, if, indeed they are?

I am confident that you will ultimately recognise that it is showing love to all concerned to encourage them to speak the truth in love to one another and agree to separate where necessary to avoid abuse or offence. 

Why should you put the traditionalists under such duress by expecting them to embrace what they consider sin?  They are simply following the historical church teachings in good conscience.  Amicable separation is better than acrimonious fellowship for all parties.  Proverbs 15:17 says,  “Better a meal of vegetables where there is love than a fattened calf with hatred.”   Yes, separation will be painful but I believe that as you trust Jesus to build His church you will lead your people into a new era of peace and harmony and relevance in the 21st century.

Sincerely, your brother in Christ,

Bruce A.Kent



Warm Greetings from "Down Under"

Members of PFLAG our sister organisation in Australia send best wishes to all of us back home and celebrate with us the progress that has been made to achieve marriage equality in the UK.


Bruce and Janet Kent had the wonderful opportunity to visit Australia in November 2015 and so arranged to attend a local meeting of PFLAG our sister organisation in Parramatta a suburb of Sydney.    



The meeting was chaired by Committee Member, Marilyn Godfrey and Bruce and Janet immediately felt completely at home  with all the lovely people in an atmosphere so reminiscent of our own meetings here in the UK.  Many of the group were old friends, some having been active in PFLAG for up to two decades and one family were there for the very first time that afternoon with their gay son.

PFLAG Australia is travelling a very similar course to us in FFLAG here and the Sydney group were very interested to hear Janet and Bruce’s stories and how we have achieved marriage equality at last in the UK.  They are working with others towards seeing such a breakthrough in their own country. 

In fact, 2015 marks the 20 year anniversary of PFLAG in Western Sydney, founded in Parramatta in 1995 by current PFLAG committee member, Mollie Smith.   


Talking about her own personal story, Janet explained that after going on a long journey to acceptance of her son’s sexuality, she and Bruce were delighted that he was getting married on the Saturday after they returned from Australia.  This led to the atmosphere becoming very emotional and there were tears.  Movingly, Marilyn expressed that this was because it is not yet a reality for them in Australia.

Recent polls suggest that Australia is one of the most gay-friendly countries in the world.  A poll conducted by Pew Research indicated that 79% of Australians viewed that homosexuality should be accepted by society, making it the fifth most supportive country in the world behind Spain (88%), Germany (87%), Canada and Czech Republic (both 80%).  However, the situation varies widely across the country with much more acceptance in the big cities and much less in many more rural areas.   



Sir Ian McKellan


We are delighted to share the photo of FFLAG  Patron Sir Ian McKellan.

Sir Ian's P.A., Louise sent it through to us to update our website.

A huge thank you to Sir Ian and all our wonderful Patrons who do so much to support FFLAG.



We have a busy autumn ahead of us. Along with parent support groups from Poland, Malta, Turkey, Italy and Croatia, FFLAG parents will be attending the ILGA- Europe annual conference in Athens at the end of October. ILGA-Europe is a driving force for political, legal and social change on a European level. FFLAG’s President, Jenny Broughton will attend with fellow Trustees Sue (FFLAG’s Chair) and Bob Allen and one of FFLAG’s founders Frances Nicole. For more information on the work of ILGA visit



FFLAG has also been asked to be part of P3 panel event at the French international bank BNP Paribas Diversity Week in London. P3: Proud: Professional : Parents is a support network for LGBT parents who work in the City. The theme of the event is looking at diversity at home and introducing it to children. This is similar to an event that we attended at Goldman Sachs earlier in the year. 


We also continue to be busy responding to calls and emails from the many people who are looking for support and information. FFLAG’s website averages over 1,000 visits a month and we have growing number of followers on Facebook and Twitter.



Boysan Yaker

It is with disbelief and deep sadness that we learnt of the tragic death of Boysan. Boysan, 31, died on September 6th in a car accident in western Turkey that claimed the lives of four other people.

Boysan was an ardent activist in Turkey’s LGBTI movement and an advisor to Sisli’s mayor. We at FFLAG were privileged to get to know Boysan and his mother Sema over the years whilst all working to address inequalities and prejudice towards LGBT communities.

We have happy memories of exchanging ideas and learning of one another’s cultures at a conference in Sicily in 2011. We were also able to welcome Boysan, Sema and other parents with LGBT sons and daughters to London for World Pride in 2012.

Our hearts go out to Boysan’s parents Sema and Hakar and to all his family and many friends. Our deepest sympathy to all who knew and loved Boysan and who work so hard for the LGBTI movement in Turkey.


Pictured: Boysan and Sema at World Pride in London



A Lush Cornwall Pride!

Thank you once again to all the wonderful people at Lush for their support. This time it was Lush at Truro who offered to hold a Charity Pot Party in aid of FFLAG to coincide with Cornwall Pride. Family and friends posed for a photo outside the shop before joining the parade.

This was Cornwall Pride’s eighth year and was as successful as ever. The parade through the city centre was led by a Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service fire truck with Devon and Cornwall Police marching in uniform – a procession filled with rainbow flags, music, love and laughter. 


The Picnic in the Park in the afternoon was a family friendly event attended by hundreds who listened to an afternoon of live music. FFLAG had a stall in the Park which was visited by lots of individuals and organisations. It was a great day, made even more special by being able to share it with so many of our friends and family.



FFLAG’s young supporters at the Picnic in the Park


Plymouth Gay Men's Chorus

A new choir wants you even if you can’t sing! Whether you are an experienced singer or not there is an exciting new opportunity to join in some music making. There are no auditions and there is no need to be able to read music. To find out more, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or ring 07444 834500. Be part of Plymouth gay community’s new musical voice!



London Pride - A Day Full Of Love

London Pride June 27th

A Day filled with Love, Laughter and Celebration

Despite the weather prediction of torrential rain, thunder, lightning and hailstones one week before, Pride day itself saw almost wall to wall sunshine. FFLAG parents, families and friends joined by Trustees marched together from Baker Street to Whitehall. The crowds that lined the route gave us a tremendous reception with many shouting their thanks and blowing us kisses. It was a day filled with love and laughter- but also as one marched along amongst the sea of rainbow flags, you couldn’t help but be aware that many in the crowd perhaps did not have the support and love of their families.

Whilst some of us marched, a team of parents ran a FFLAG stand in Trafalgar Square, sharing an area with Families Together London.As usual we were very busy with enquiries, meeting the most wonderful people of all ages and walks of life. Special thanks to Lois Fitzpatrick and Barbara Spence from Manchester Parents Support Group who came to assist and celebrate with us. And a quick mention of Barbara's home-made Rainbow earrings which were a big hit!

A Rainbowtastic Day all round!



Thinking of our friends in Turkey

Whilst we were all basking in the joy of London Pride, and celebrating the fact that the United States Supreme Court had just legalised same –sex marriage we were shocked and saddened by events at Pride in Istanbul on June 28th.  Istanbul’s Pride parade was brutally dispersed with water cannon, tear gas and rubber bullets. We know many brave parents with LGBT sons and daughters there and are in constant contact with many of them.

We have happy memories of welcoming members of the parent support group Listag to London for World Pride in 2012 and of attending Istanbul Pride in 2013. We send the parents and all their sons and daughters our love and best wishes for happier days.

Proud Parents of Listag



Support for Straight Spouses

We are delighted that we are now able to offer support to straight partners through the counselling services of Susan Woolnough

Susan Woolnough is a qualified counsellor registered with the British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists who specialises in working with straight spouses whose partners have come out as gay in later life.  She can be contacted by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Susan is based on the Hertfordshire/London borders and is happy for people to contact her if they just want signposting to resources such as books to read, forums they can join etc.



London Pride - Come and Join Us

We are very excited to once again be taking part in London Pride on Saturday June 27th.  We will be marching in the first part of the parade and will also have a stall in Trafalgar Square.  

If you would like to join us – either by marching alongside the FFLAG banner or being part of the team at the FFLAG stall in Trafalgar Square do get in touch with us This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  We will be meeting for the parade at 11.45 outside the entrance of Marks and Spencer on the junction of Oxford Street and Baker Street.

The nearest tube stations are Bond Street and Marble Arch. We will leave to take up our place in the parade shortly after 12.00. The parade departs at 13.00. We will have a limited supply of FFLAG white teeshirts on the day if anyone needs one. Do get in touch - even if you don’t want to march just come and say hi!



Congratulations Cath!

We were thrilled to learn that Cath Johnson has been awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours. Her award is for services to LGBT youth. Cath is the founder member of The Albert Kennedy Trust (AKT) and it is for this that the award has been given. Cath is also a founder member of Manchester Parents’ Group.

There are now three FFLAG mums with an MBE – Anne Patrizio of Parents Enquiry Scotland and FFLAG’s President Jenny Broughton. We were very proud that all three wonderful, inspirational mums were able to attend our recent networking day in Manchester.



Maureen's farewell to Birmingham Parents' Support Group

An evening of reminiscences, humour, pathos and statements of appreciation for Maureen Walsh, the long-serving Chair of Birmingham Parents’ Support Group, was held on Monday June 15th. She is retiring from the post after 20 years of successfully running the thriving support group of parents and family members of lesbian and gay children.

Deb Purcell presented her with a David Austin rose from all of us, called ’Blessings,’ and gave her a little speech of thanks. She likened Maureen to the qualities of the rose as described in the catalogue: qualities such as reliable and fragrant! Parents had also generously contributed to a token. A framed certificate acknowledging all she has done for us was signed by us all and presented by Mike Bradley who ran the LG switchboard for a time. He also gave her flowers. He spoke on behalf of the lesbian and gay children who had valued the group’s work in helping families accept their children. More flowers were given, people voiced their appreciation and thanks for all Maureen has done for us – her warmth and empathy.

It was good to see friends there from years gone by - particularly founder members Irene and Robert West, who had flown in from Ireland where they now live. Sue Allen, Chair of FFLAG had driven up from Bristol with her husband Bob, and gave a large bouquet from FFLAG. Other parents had travelled from Halesowen, Tamworth, Bromsgrove and Stafford. Three of the sons of parents in the group were also there and it was good to hear how well they are doing in their separate fields. Altogether there were about 30 people who came to say thank you.

Heartfelt thanks from all of us Maureen, and God’s blessings on you in your future life’ journey. We know we will see you again and you will drop in on us from time to time.

Margaret and Deb will be taking over as Co-chairs of the group in future – Maureen’s is a hard act to follow!

Picture - 'Sue with Maureen'


By Margaret Evans





'Out in the Wilderness'  - A Novella by Margaret Evans

My novella, ‘ Out in the Wilderness,’ is now launched. You can even find it on Amazon at £5.99, though I am happy to post it to interested parties at £5.50, plus £1.20 postage. It tells the story of a family, particularly the mother, coming to terms with her gay son and daughter. The journey of the family is one which some of us may recognise as partly our own. The story is fiction, but taken from various people’s lives. I have had good feedback from one or two parents who have read it, which I share with you here. 
‘I read a few pages of your book last night, and I was astonished at how similar some of my feelings in the past were in comparison... I have a lot to learn. I really believed these people - and it resonated with my age group - brought in lots of attitudes I remember when I was a child and a young adult - well done you.’ (Julie, mother of a gay son)
‘I enjoyed this. You have touched on a lot of different issues here.’ (Derek, grandparent to a child of a lesbian couple.)
‘I was delighted to read Margaret's novella and was greatly impressed with her understanding and reference to some contemporary Biblical research, notably ‘Love, Lost in Translation’ by K Renato Lings, and the impact that has on the linguistics and translations of the texts. Moreover, the character of Revd. Luke as the sympathetic liberal Anglican priest, seemingly struggling with the conundrum of his own theology and the (ongoing dynamic) doctrine of the Church in his conversations with Hilda, was a refreshing, yet increasingly more common, initiative. I think this is a brave and informative piece which may be of great benefit to those who can empathise, in part or fully, with Hilda and her unfolding drama.’ (Revd. Chris Wingfield)
I decided that a fictional story might give easier access to some of the current dilemmas facing LGBT people and their families, to people who would be unlikely to tackle more serious reading.
Margaret Evans



FFLAG Networking Day - Sat 18th April 2015

It was a wonderful, encouraging, refreshing and motivating day of meeting up with friends old and new at the Lesbian and Gay Foundation headquarters in the heart of the Manchester gay village. 35 delegates and guests from as far apart as Scotland and Cornwall gathered to celebrate the progress that has been achieved over the past year as well as hear about the challenges ahead.
The day was chaired by Jenny Broughton MBE, FFLAG’s President who welcomed everyone and expressed the sadness we all felt that Sue Allen, FFLAG’s Chair of Trustees, was unable to attend due to sickness.  Bob Allen was asked to pass on our best wishes to her for a swift recovery.
Paul Martin, Chief Executive of the Lesbian and Gay Foundation, then addressed the delegates. After thanking everyone for the sterling work done by the delegates, he abandoned the agenda and timetable and led the group in an open discussion on what we felt were the main challenges still facing us. The consensus was that we have made great progress in the UK in many ways but that we are largely a white middle class group.  Many abuses of LGBTQI people happen within religious and ethnic minority groups and we want to be doing better at reaching the people there who are still suffering abuse.
Following this, everyone present had the opportunity to say a few words about themselves and what they are personally about.  It was truly amazing to learn the huge variety and scope of all the good work that is being quietly accomplished around the UK.  Not least of which was Margaret Evans who showed us copies of her new novel “Out in the Wilderness” which describes the huge emotional turmoil faced by a Christian parent with LGBT offspring. 
We also heard about the poster for schools and were able to see the banner which says “families are all different and that’s ok”. This is a positive message and we encourage everyone to spread it wherever we can.
We then had the opportunity to hear from Aashi Gahlot the founder and editor-in-chief at SHOR LGBTQ speak about “Honour and Shame in the South Asian Community”.  This was a deeply moving presentation of the persecutions that she, personally, and many of her fellow South Asians have suffered within their communities because of their sexual orientation or identity.  She had been disowned by her family on two occasions and yet still she refuses to stay quiet. Aashi is boldly championing the cause of those who are suffering as a result of ignorance and prejudice but at great personal cost.
After lunch we heard from Suzanne Brooks from Manchester Parents Support group about just what it means to be ‘trans’, a word that covers a spectrum of different personal identities that the heterosexual community are largely ignorant and  unappreciative of. This, again, included a heart rending account of the trials involved in making a journey that some people have to undergo if they are to truly be themselves. The costs involve physical, mental, emotional and social as well as financial pain over many years.  
FFLAG has historically focussed on helping the families and friends of lesbians, gays and bisexuals because we are largely parents of such people. However, we are actively considering expanding our remit as we engage with more trans people and their families.  We were able to hear from Bob and Mandy about the work they have begun in Lincolnshire as they attended this FFLAG event for their first time.  They are parents of a trans daughter and have started Lincsparentslgbt
The day was a great success and Sue Allen received lots of appreciate feedback back at home which encouraged her greatly.  We look forward to the next time when we can get together again and have that time to learn more and meet up again with those we have come to appreciate so much.



SPLAG Wales flies the FFLAG at the NASUWT 2015 Annual Conference in CARDIFF

At a troubled time for teachers across the nation because they are increasingly having to deal with children turning up to school without socks or coats and having missed breakfast, SPLAG Wales and FFLAG attended the NASUWT annual conference at the Millennium Centre, Cardiff for the Whole of the Easter weekend.
We were encouraged to see a greater awareness than ever before among many delegates of LGBTQI issues and an increased sensitivity to the suffering brought about by homophobic and transphobic bullying. Many teachers were able to tell us of the programmes and policies that their schools have now introduced to combat these evils.  However, many more were not aware of the seriousness of these issues compared with problems such as poverty or racial prejudice and the team felt that we were able to provide teachers with vital information and personal stories conveying the importance of protecting children at school.
Bob Allen and Hilary Beynon talking with some teachers at the NASUWT Conference in Cardiff – April 2015
Eye catching FFLAG banners at the NASUWT Conference in Cardiff – April 2015



'Coming out to Class'

Special Edition Films, the producers of Channel 4's “Coming out to class”, are developing a new documentary looking at the rise in number of children identifying as Lesbian, Gay or Bisexual at much younger ages than before. We would love to hear from proud parents about their experiences of their children's awareness of their orientation at a young age.  If you would be interested in having a chat with us, please do get in touch.

Best wishes, 


This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.|0208 960 1446



New Posters

At our 20th anniversary conference in 2013, we looked at where we felt the greatest need now lay.   This seemed to us to be in education, especially in primary and early years.
A working group was set up and PricewaterhouseCoopers very generously lent us their talented Design Team to work with us.
These posters, which you will find under Resources on our website and can download, and postcards which are available from FFLAG, will, we hope, provide a useful resource for teachers and others who work with children and young people.    
Diversity in families is something to be valued and respected.   The only thing that matters is what they all have in common – LOVE.



Gay and Lesbian Parenting in the UK

Over the past few years there has been a steady increase in the number of gay and lesbian couples deciding to start a family. A 2013 study by the Office for National Statistics revealed that there were 12,000 same-sex couples raising children in the UK. There were 8,000 same-sex parents in 2011, 4,000 in 2010
However there are restrictive laws in the UK regarding surrogacy. The Gay Birthright UK campaign aims to raise awareness and open debate regarding the laws. The campaign is run by Rory and Nick who explain 
“As same-sex intended parents beginning our baby journey, we found that commercial surrogacy is illegal in the UK. This creates an array of uncertainties for both intended parents and surrogates.’
Our campaign is calling for a change in the UK laws. We want to see the legalisation of commercial surrogacy. We envisage the creation of a legal framework that fosters a fair and ethical basis for creating families through surrogacy and making it the safe, secure and loving place it should be.”
Rory and Nick also want to bring parity in terms of availability of IVF and fertility treatments for male intended parents in relation to that which is currently offered to straight and lesbian couples. To find out more about Gay Birthright and to read more articles about Rory and Nicks campaign visit
As of 2009, gay women had the same rights in the UK as heterosexual women so it is legal to give birth from a sperm donation. In 2014 the first NHS-funded sperm bank opened which made sperm donation more accessible to lesbian singles and couples.
Some gay and lesbian couples team up to start a family choosing to co-parent. Co-parenting primarily involves keeping the person who donated the sperm or egg and surrogate involved in the child’s life as a third parent. The laws affecting the legal parenthood of sperm donors and non-birth mothers in lesbian couples vary. Co-parenting arrangements can be complex and legal advice should be sought.For more information on co-parenting see
For some people, adoption might be the route to parenthood. A gay or lesbian single person or same-sex couple have the same rights to apply to adopt a child in the UK as their heterosexual peers. At any one time there are around 4,000 children in England waiting for new families. The UK is one of only 14 countries where same-sex couples can legally adopt a child. Recent studies show that children adopted by same-sex couples are thriving. The study, carried out by Cambridge University suggests that adoptive families with gay fathers might be faring particularly well. For more information about fostering and adopting see
LGBT adoption and fostering week ( 2nd – 8th March) is run by New Family Social and offers support to LGBT adopters and foster carers 



FFLAG President and Founder awarded MBE!


It is with great pleasure we announce that Jenny Broughton, FFLAG's President and founder member has been awardedan MBE in the New Years Honours List for Services to Sexual Equality and Families. We are so proud!



Good News from a Welsh Mum

One of our Welsh mums has been in touch to say that her lesbian daughter has just had a baby boy.  As this is a very heart warming and encouraging story I thought it was worth sharing. Her daughter, Nicky, had a very troubled time in her teens and early twenties, with mental health problems which made her sexuality very low down on the list of parental worries.  She also developed physical problems which have made life very difficult for her at times.  Then she met the love of her life in Anna, a Royal Navy Officer.  
They had a civil partnership in 2011, and followed it with a lovely church blessing in central Cardiff, with Nicky looking beautiful in a white wedding dressing and Anna spectacular in full naval dress uniform – some of you may remember reading about it in the SPLAG newsletter at the time, together with a photo taken with the very proud parents.  Recently, the couple decided that they would like to have a baby and in due course Nicky became pregnant.  In the meantime, the Navy offered Anna a ‘married’ posting to a naval base in Virginia and, having carefully checked out that there were excellent medical facilities there, off they went.
Just over 3 weeks before the baby was due, they learnt that the state of Virginia had just legalised full same sex marriage. They  rang home on a Tuesday to tell mum and dad who booked a flight the following day and flew out on the Friday to help them prepare for the MC church wedding on the following Monday! 
The baby was due on 3rd November but arrived an hour before midnight the previous day!  James Dafydd is a healthy 7lb 14oz and mother, baby and partner are doing well.  The delighted  grandparents will soon be flying back to Virginia to give Nicky a hand when Anna returns to work.
I am sure we will all want to congratulate the proud parents and grandparents, and wish them a very happy family life for the future.



Kristi Barnette, a research student in the USA

'We have been contacted by Kirsti Barnette, a research student in the USA. She would like  to spread awareness of the important issues the LGBT community is facing in American culture.
Kristi has bought to our attention a timeline that provides an informative look at the prejudices and difficulties LGBT individuals have encountered to bring the movement to where it is today. Take a look at Kirsti's website, It makes fascinating reading.'



News from the North

Parents Enquiry North East had a very busy, very hot Northern Pride. On the Saturday we had a tombola stall where we raised £214.00. Our thanks to the generosity of everyone who took part and to our parents and committee for providing some lovely prizes.  I don't think I've been hugged and kissed by so many people in my life  -  lovely!

On the Sunday we had our leaflet stall displaying FFLAG and PENE literature.  This was a much quieter event and we actually got time to talk to people.

Two weeks later we had "Paws with Pride". This is Northern Pride's pet show. It was another lovely day, especially meeting so many nice people and dogs.  My pug Louis had a whale of a time and won the best 6 legs with my son Richard.  2014 has certainly been a busy summer!



It Gets Better

The Battersea Group was treated to an entertaining and informative talk from Inspector (Response) Jaiye Warwick-Saunders of Barnet Borough, with support from his black Labrador Jake, who made us all laugh at his antics!
The theme of “It Gets Better” was based on Jaiye’s coming out experience within his family, school and college friends, the police force and in policing society, all of which threw up issues of their own. 
Jaiye was confident, based on his experience, that since he openly and in anger declared himself gay to his stepfather at Christmas, there were positives both for him personally and in the attitudes of wider society. This “getting better” was given anecdotal support evidenced from his original negative relationship with his stepfather to eventually one of a positive nature and acceptance by his stepfather of his stepson’s homosexuality.
Indeed he felt well placed to say to the group that it does get better, particularly as he considered he was hit by a “triple whammy” of height (short-arse!), colour and minority sexual orientation, all of which required him to break new ground. In the police force he has become the highest-ranking black and gay policeman in England (but he’s still short!!!).
His comments on the issues of violence and homophobic attitudes towards LGBT people from wider societies were a particularly helpful guidance from “a policemen in the know”, ie having to deal with gay issues on a regular basis. Jaiye recommends that LGBT people should be aware of moderate behaviour in certain social aspects, as they might provoke negative reactions from “straight” people. It was self-evident from Jaiye’s talk that his journey has brought him to a place where he is confident, happy and in a fulfilling relationship. From the darker days of coming out to his stepfather it most certainly has got better!
Joanne Mason




Last night I saw a film which made me laugh, cry and above all CHEER.
It is called ‘Pride’, an appropriate title, and it tells of a piece of Lesbian and Gay history of which, I am ashamed to say, I knew nothing.   In 1984, at the height of the Miners’ Strike, a small group in London led by an activist called Mark Ashton set up the LGSM - LESBIANS AND GAYS SUPPORT THE MINERS.   
They collected money for the miners’ families but could not donate it directly to the National Union of Mineworkers because Margaret Thatcher had sequestered their funds, so they found a village in the Dulais Valley in the South Wales coalfields, got into their battered old van and took the money to them.
The film is the story of their relationship with the mining community.  Not without its ups and downs and initial problems of acceptance by the men of the community, they build together a strong and mutually supportive relationship.
Although it is a fictionalised account, the main facts and characters are real and after the screening we were privileged to have with us for a discussion David Donovan, the NUM leader in the film, as strong and gentle a man as he is portrayed by Paddy Considine.  It is beautifully directed by Matthew Warchus and acted by a brilliant cast led by Bill Nighy and Imelda Staunton.
Go and see it.  You will have a wonderful, heartwarming evening and come out filled with pride in our lesbian and gay daughters and sons.
Jenny Broughton



Brenda Oakes

It is with great sadness that we announce the death of FFLAG’s Vice President, Brenda Oakes. We send our deepest condolences to her husband Jim and all who knew and loved her. Brenda was a founder member of FFLAG, a staunch advocate of LGBT rights and she will sadly missed. We will be compiling a full tribute to Brenda, and would much appreciate contributions and memories of this very special person from those who knew Brenda.



News from the Groups

And Brenda’s work continues through the parents’ support groups that are busy across the country - busy attending Prides, holding meetings and giving talks. 
There’s a lovely photo of Joan at the Parents Enquiry North East (PENE) stall at Northern Pride which has got lots of ‘likes of Facebook and Twitter. Joan has put a request out for people to please ‘Like’ PENE’s Facebook page to raise awareness of the support offered by the group.
Barbara and Lois from Manchester Parents Group helped run the FFLAG stall at London Pride, and it was great to see members of Families Together London on the parade and at Trafalgar Square. Bristol Family and Friends ran the FFLAG stall at Bristol Pride and were joined by Bristol Lord Mayor, George Ferguson. We sent greetings to all the Pride organisations that we are in touch with – and just wish we could attend them all. One particular Pride that is dear to our hearts is Istanbul Pride. We are proud to have a photo of two of the brave mums from LISTAG support group as one of the images on the Home page of FFLAG’s website.
Alison from Parents of Jewish Gays and Lesbians has shared her personal story as a mother in The Jewish Chronicle, which can be read online Parent’s support groups continue to meet regularly. For information about individual groups go to the Support page and click on Parents Group. Margaret reports that New Road Worcestershire Parents group had a good meeting recently.
 “Stuart Bray of Core Assets Fostering, spoke to us about his journey as a gay adopter – now of three children. Core Assets have been in the Stonewall top100 Diversity awards list for four successive years and this year won the top performer in the West Midlands for their commitment to lesbian, gay and bisexual employees and service users. Stuart also runs a support group for lesbian, gay bisexual parents called F.A.B. 
A ‘new’ parent also attended our meeting and was greatly helped by listening to the journeys of other parents and sharing the difficult feelings. She was reassured that we all move on and learn to accept and value our children.”
A busy summer of Prides and events coming up in the next few weeks. Please get in touch with your news and topics of interest and we will share them on the website or via Twitter and Facebook.




FFLAG meets South London Gays

Thank you to all the members of South London Gays who made FFLAG so welcome last week. We were invited to talkto the group on the work of FFLAG and to reflect on some of the experiences of parents today who have a gay or lesbian son or daughter.
There were some 35 members present, many of whom shared their thoughts and experiences in the Q and A session that followed the talk. The members were particularly interested to learn about relationships between gay sons and their fathers and between lesbian daughters and their mothers.There was also a lively discussion about the role of religion and early years education in influencing society's views of being gay or lesbian.
Many of the audience were older men who grew up when being in a sexual relationship with another man was illegal. It was humbling to listen to some of their experiences and to hear first hand of the secrets & half truths that they had to engage in simply to live their lives... and of the broken family relationships because they dare not tell a mother or father that they were gay. As one of the members said. - " I had my first relationship with a man when I was in my twenties in the late 1950s. I was terrified the police would come running up the stairs. I hadn't hit anyone. I hadn't robbed anyone - and yet I was being treated as a criminal just the same."
We all agreed that we have come a long way since those dark days, but much still needs to be done. Thank you again to all the SLG members for your warm hospitality and kindness.



Singing in the rain!

What a fabulous day we all had at London Pride on June 28th. It rained - and some! - but nothing could dampen the spirits, the love, the laughter and sense of community of the whole event. We were joined by lots of friends from the South Asian community. Their teeshirts  & placards with messages of love & support written in Hindi caused huge interest from the watching crowds.
Parents from Manchester Parents' Group and Bristol Family and Friends had a busy day offering support and information at the FFLAG stall in Trafalgar Square. We were very proud to have our President Jenny Broughton at Trafalgar Square and to have one of FFLAG's founders Frances Nicol join us on the parade.
Aashi, Davina  and friends kept us all entertained with an amazing repertoire of Bollywood songs. The singing, the huge FFLAG  banner and proud parents marching along with family members meant that the message of love was seen and heard by all. As always the reception from the crowds was truly amazing: the cheering: the applause: the words of thanks  and appreciation made for another very special Pride.
A huge thank you to everyone who took part!





Join us at London Pride

We are looking forward to seeing lots of friends and supporters at London Pride on Saturday 28th June. FFLAG is part of the Head of Parade walking group which is a really exciting. FFLAG will also have a stall in Trafalgar Square where everyone can meet when the parade is over. The stall will be there throughout the afternoon for anyone to access and talk to FFLAG parents and to be part of a really exciting day.
Information for all who will be part of the walking group.
We will be meeting at  12.00 outside the main entrance of Marks and Spencer Marble Arch branch (on the junction of Orchard St and Oxford Street) We will leave to take up our place on the parade at 12.15. The parade sets off from Baker Street and FFLAG/head of parade starting point is at Fitzhardinge Street (by Barclays). We must all meet beforehand as access to the parade area is restricted
(This  M &S branch is equidistant between Bond St and Marble Arch underground stations. To check on underground train times/weekend maintenance visit  All groups have to be in place by 12.45 and the parade leaves at 1 o'clock sharp.)
We are so looking forward to seeing everyone there. Our contact numbers on the day are 07890558994 or 07715349984. Please keep in touch via Twitter @OfficialFFLAG or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Facebook  - Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. fflag   For more information on the whole event visit
See you there!



Social Media CallOut

Are you a British gay man in the UK currently in touch with gay prison inmates in the US? Through pen pal organisations or otherwise? If so, our UK-based production company specialising in serious documentaries would like to hear from you for an exciting new project.
We are making a documentary looking to explore the benefits that these relationships can bring to both prisoners and pen pals. If interested, e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. in complete confidence.



Report from New Road Parents - Worcestershire

A busy day on June 9th , as I represented both New Road and Birmingham Parent Support Groups at NEW College of Further Education in Redditch. The small, newly formed LGBT group at the College held their first Pride event. Next year it will be bigger as they grow in confidence and they also hope to take part in the Birmingham Pride march and earlier in the year to do something for LGBT History Month.
Then later the same day I took part in a protest meeting at Redditch Town Hall against the homophobia and racism expressed by David Small, the 81 year old who was sacked by UKIP for allegedly posting racist and homophobic comments online. Small was elected as a UKIP councillor on May 22, but spent just six days as the UKIP councillor before he was expelled for bringing the party into disrepute. He then stood as an Independent, but resigned his seat when the Police spoke to him. The police in Worcestershire are very hot on Hate Crime.  
About thirty people from various organisations and individuals, stood outside the Town Hall with rainbow banners, posters, badges and even whistles. We had a few speeches and assurances that Redditch was not generally homophobic. Councillors from Bromsgrove, including the Civic Chair also took part and the Redditch press were present.
Author - Margaret Evans



The Love That Knows Much Shame

a panel part of the Alchemy Festival in London 2014, discussing whether one can be both LGBT and South Asian in Britain today

I had the honour of partaking as a speaker at The Love That Knows Much Shame on the 23rd of May, 2014, in London. 
This opportunity came about by my accepting and beginning to face my ghosts and my fears.
I run a creative online portal, शोर ! SHOR (
Through SHOR, we tackle the myths surrounding homosexuality and being LGBTQ amongst South Asian society worldwide. 
This is done through creative works such as short stories, poetry and spoken word. 
Recently, we added a new section – Interviews. 
Very recently, we interviewed a mother whose daughter came out to her 12 years ago as a lesbian.
It was specifically because of this interview, that I was propelled to face a ghost of my past- perhaps not just of my past, but of the present and for the future too.
My ghost is a familiar one to all:
Parents can be frightening and difficult to face regardless of sexuality.
With their own dreams, ambitions and futures set out neatly in a parent’s mind, it can get messy if our own journey doesn’t fit their plan. 
My sexuality created/creates issues both for myself and my parents. 
But now, I try and see the bigger picture. 
I try and take the responsibility of trying to make my parents see me for me- not for my sexuality. 
I don’t want them to see me as their “lesbian” daughter, but I want them to see me as their daughter.
True, I want them to accept me whole heartedly, rather than in hushed tones. 
But how can they do that when I cannot completely do that myself? 
Coming out, acceptance from others and self acceptance certainly cannot be force fed. 
These are organic, works in progress that need the time and space to grow.
Speaking at the panel, having the opportunity to share my experience and my insight was truly an honour.   
The panel made me realise how activism, how trying to make the world a better place, has to start from within. 
I spoke about being estranged from my family for 4 years from the age of 19, my sexuality being the catalyst.
I spoke about the shame and disgrace my parents have had to face, especially whilst I was away. 
I proudly spoke on my recent opportunity to work with FFLAG, through translating a guide book (English-Hindi) for parents who have had a child come out as gay or bisexual to them.
I touched on the difficulties faced by my parents but due to a lack of time, I couldn’t delve further.
What is it that we need to un-weed?
Is it family shame?
The rejection?
A parents fear- regardless of sexuality, but I feel prevalent within LGBTQ societies- is the trepidation that their child will not have a “proper” family or any offspring.
 Not to add the ultimate fear… what if my child gets left on the shelf? 
Shame and dishonour are definitely factors, but I refuse to believe that these hold more power than the efforts of making homophobic people understand firstly that homosexuality is not a choice, and that homosexuality is about whom you fall in love with and are attracted to.
Making people understand this is certainly not easy due to the stigma surrounding the topic.
As I write in Hindi, try not to be afraid of what society says, your child is not impure or abnormal; or as I write, there is no shame in supporting your homosexual child, I am forced to face the fact of how difficult it can be for a parent to wholeheartedly agree.
Society can be ruthless in making a mockery out of difficult family situations and supporting your homosexual child can have you accused as a bad parent – issues that we explore through the translation.
However, what drives me on is hope - the hope that although it may be frightening for a parent, it is possible for a parent to understand and accept their child for whoever they are. 
Devi, the mother whom we interviewed, made a remarkable journey through the 12 years since her daughter came out. Whereas Devi had cried for days and felt ashamed and angry at her daughter initially, she now not only accepts her daughter for who she is, but accepts her daughter’s partner.
I can’t help asking;
How do we accept not just others, but also ourselves? Perhaps these two are conjoined - Irrelevant and disempowered without the other?
Our work forces me to face my life - all my actions that I am proud of, but also those that make me uncomfortable and not so proud.
Something that has made me uncomfortable is the fact that I have had to come out - again.
Having been away from “home” for 4 years, coming back to my traditional Indian family was a confusing culture shock of sorts. 
I was told not to reveal my life to others in the family or share any of my experiences for the fear of shame. 
For example, I remember being hushed when I wanted to speak on a Greek holiday that my then girlfriend’s family had taken me on. 
This was hurtful but more than that, confusing for me.
I wanted to share my life with my family and tell them the experiences I had had.
I couldn’t understand why I had to be so careful on what I said when all I’ve ever want to say is the truth. 
Now I understand that my parents were themselves going through a process and a roller-coaster of emotions, just like myself.
Very soon, the elation felt by both my family members and I, began to dip. 
To the surface emerged the anger, betrayal and hurt felt by us both. 
This was a very difficult time and I am so grateful to have got through it.
My then girlfriend broke up with me and I lost her support.
Call it denial, fear, shock, heart break or the innate instinctual adaptation to situations in order to defend and protect myself, I convinced myself that I like men and from now on, will “move on” from women. 
I believed this with all I could, and ignored that space inside me that felt like a void - that space I refused to face.
My cousin asked: “I heard something disgusting about you. People said all sorts of things…”
I replied: “No it’s not true”
My uncle asked: “People say that you’re a lesbian. Is it true?”
I felt especially sick and quickly replied: “No. I am not that.”
Another cousin who is connected to a priest in India told me that this priest had revealed that I will be marrying in a few years, and my husband will be someone who starts off a business, initially not doing very well, but then doing exceptionally well. 
This confirmed to me and I felt the relief that yep, I have “moved on”.
No more pain.
No more rejection. 
I can forget about being gay.
Then one day, around a year or so later, I was sat in a Hindi lecture at University. 
We were reading a short story by an author named Ugra. This story was homophobic and compared homosexuals to paedophiles. 
This woke me up.
I was ready to face that void inside me.
I was ready to come out again. 
Firstly, I first spoke up against the story in class and emphasised how unfair the portrayal was.
Then I came out to my lecturer.
Eventually I came out again to my father, who now completely accepts me for who I am. 
I came out to my brother spontaneously in our garden, whilst we were having a casual cigarette. This was the day after a protest in London against Section 377: the global day of rage. 
It clearly made him uncomfortable and he told me to be careful of the family finding out on my work and my being gay. However, I have noticed that since this day, my brother and I have bonded better than ever before. I feel that the sexuality thing is now being forgotten, no longer a thorn and that at last, I am just his older sister.
When I came out to my teenage cousin, she didn’t look surprised and said that she had heard something about this. She was supportive and asserted that she will always stand up for my rights. Refreshingly, she casually added that her best friend is gay.
I have asked myself, I have asked my friends and allies: do I deserve to be fighting for LGBTQ rights and running a portal on trying to make things better when I still am not out completely? 
My friends say, yes.
Do I say, yes?
I have not felt good about myself for having to have come out again, but I know that I never lied. 
More importantly, my heart is in my work.
I convinced myself after coming back home that I can marry a man, even though within the core of my heart I knew something was not right about this and that I can never love a man.
All I have wanted is my family and to be accepted. 
I could have sacrificed my feelings for that stamp of approval at one point.
I felt like a kid who has done really well at school and is revealing top grades for a piece of work when I told my mother and myself a few weeks after coming home in 2009, that I like men. 
Sounds silly, but my mother gave me a smile that I have never before seen in my life and an acceptance that I have never received before. 
That was short lived.
Not only because I am gay and cannot marry a man, but because I now understand that another person cannot be responsible for someone else’s happiness.
Even if I married a man, then this would not solve my family’s problems.
So now, I forgive myself for having to come out once again. 
I hope that through my work at both FLLAG and SHOR, I can help not just parents but LGB persons themselves to understand that sexuality does not define you. 
Yes, it is important and a human right to be accepted for who you are, but that acceptance will be an individual process that cannot be rushed.
Our work at SHOR and the Hindi translation at FFLAG are not magical answers to acceptance but are important resources contributing to the individual journey that must be taken by all regardless of whether one is a parent whose child has come out, is a young LGBTQ person already or in the process of coming out - whatever stage that maybe.

Author - Aashi Gahlot



Churches unite in Croydon in support of LGBT equality

In brilliant sunshine, on Saturday 17th May 2014, FFLAG supported eight local church groups in Croydon as they joined with eight local LGBT groups to celebrate IDAHO Day * in the busy central shopping precinct of Croydon, south London under the banner of “ONE LOVE”.

It was gratifying to see churches actually supporting LGBT rights and taking a stand against homophobic bullying in such an exuberant , colourful and positive way.  Joyful music was provided by the ‘Endurance Steel Orchestra’ and ‘Happy Noise’, a brass band recruited from within the LGBT community.   The articipating churches were the Croydon M

ethodist Circuit,  St John Church the Evangelist Upper Norwood, St Stephen’s Norbury and Thornton Heath, Croydon Unitarians,  The Regeneration Project,  Purley Quakers,  Metropolitan Community Church, Balham and Quest – a group for LGBT Catholics.

In addition the ‘Rainbows  Across Borders’ group who are composed of LGBT asylum seekers from a number of countries provided songs and dance.  The members have many harrowing stories to tell.  Bruce and Janet Kent who ran the FFLAG stall spoke with one dear lady from this group who was forced to flee from Uganda, leaving her husband and four sons because of the homophobia in that country.  She is still unable to return safely to see her loved ones.
The event was endorsed by Rev. Steve Chalke  MBE, founder of the Oasis Trust who said, 
“One Love demonstrates that there is a growing move towards a more compassionate rounded, thoughtful and consistent approach to sexuality within the Church. I am extremely encouraged that LGBT groups and churches in Croydon are working together and I hope that this event serves as a reminder that the Church’s mandate is to love and serve the whole community, reflecting the truth that we are all uniquely made in the image of God.”
The Bishop of Croydon, The Right Reverend Jonathan Clark also said, 
“The Archbishop of Canterbury has recently launched a campaign in schools against homophobic bullying, and I am pleased to know that this event will seek to encourage people to be accepting of others regardless of their sexual orientation. The Church of England seeks to be inclusive of all, and I hope that this event for IDAHO will encourage people to see the church as somewhere that they can find a place.”
These were encouraging words indeed, although not mirrored by everyone.  Two sincere and devout Christian ladies made sure that they pointed out to Bruce and Janet that gays will all burn in hell forever if they don’t turn from their evil ways and that FFLAG supporters are instruments of the devil himself!
So there’s still room for progress to be made.  Overall, however, the event was well received by the people of Croydon.  One young lady, hurrying to work that morning, who didn’t know the event was to be there said that it had made her day to see us all out there making a stand.  Many people of all ages were able to take a booklet or leaflet or have a chat and be encouraged that even among the Christian denominations changes are beginning to happen.
*  May 17th is celebrated as the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia, often referred to as IDAHO. It marks the anniversary of the day in 1990 when homosexuality was removed from The World Health Organisation’s list of mental disorders.



The Love That Knows Much Shame

Can you be both LGBT and South Asian in Britain today?

The Love That Knows Much Shame is a panel discussion on being LGBT and South Asian in Britain today, 

takingplace  as part of the fifth anniversary of Southbank Centre’s Alchemy festival (15 -26 May), produced in partnership with Bobby Tiwana of Safar (Beneath the Surface).

The arrival of Same Sex Marriage legislation was a catalyst for the panel discussion. LGB Theatre Producer and Cultural Activist Bobby Tiwana says, “On the one hand we’ve had this landmark milestone in equality for gay men and women, and on the other we’ve still the situation where most South Asians still feel unable to come out to their parents and families. As a South Asian gay man I understand the status quo and feel compelled to start a discussion about it”

FFLAG is delighted to have been invited to be part of this important event and we are so pleased that Aashi Gahlot will be representing FFLAG on the discussion panel. Aashi is the founder of SHOR ( and we are currently working together to produce some of FFLAG’s resources in Hindi.

Panel Discussion 23 May, 6pm: Free Event. Southbank Centre, London SE1 8XX



A 'Thank You' to Janet

We want to say a huge ‘Thank You’ to Janet who is standing down as co-ordinator of SPLAGWales.

She is an inspiration to so many and her dedication and drive has made SPLAG the success it is today. She has produced 50 editions of the SPLAG newsletter which has offered insight, understanding and opinions on so many topics affecting parents and their LGBT loved ones.

The final edition of the newsletter went out in March.

SPLAG helplines continue to be run by Hilary and Jan and with Murray’s help all other aspects of SPLAG’s work will carry on.

There is a new email address This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it." target="_blank">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. We all send our love and very best wishes to Janet and her husband Paul.


FFLAG's Prison Visit

Sue and Bob Allen accepted a recent invitation for FFLAG to talk about our work to inmates at HMP Ashfield, Bristol. Ashfield is a category C adult male establishment with 397 prisoners currently on role. Last year a GBT peer support group was set up called Real Voices, for those who identify as GBT. The group is also open to anyone with a shared interest in all matters GBT and is run by the prisoners for the prisoners. There is a Real Voices representative on all 4 wings and the chair person and secretary carry out regular wing walks to speak to the reps and other prisoners about any concerns they may have.
They hold regular monthly support meetings and drop-in sessions. They have visits from healthcare organisations, guest speakers from other departments and outside agencies who offer additional support. 
Sue reported
‘Equality Manager Hannah Jaine met us and after the obligatory photo shot and body search, took us to the room where the event was being held  & where the gay men’s choir was in full flow. We were introduced to the compare and chairperson of Real Voices, a transgendered male to female. Poems and more songs followed with noisy performances of ‘YMCA’ and ‘I Am Who I Am!’ We were then introduced and spent about 30 minutes talking about the work of FFLAG and our own personal stories. Lots of questions were asked, notably about support for BME families and children with gay parents. The time went very quickly and before we knew it, it was time for lunch and they all disappeared, but not before many of them came to thank us for attending and how impressed they were with the work that FFLAG does. Hannah then gave us a conducted tour of one of the wings where we were invited into the compares’ room to see what the accommodation was like. I asked her how she was treated by the staff and other inmates and she said on the whole very well. She is able to wear her own women’s clothes, make up etc.’
Overall we were very impressed by the whole ethos at Ashfield around sexuality and gender issues and it is hoped by them that we will return soon.’



Joe Godwin's visit to Battersea

The 8th of March 2014 was a beautiful spring day which brought many of our members out, and we welcomed JoeGodwin for a second time to our meeting in Battersea. As Director of BBC Children’s Television, Joe Godwin is responsible for all of the BBC’s services for children – the two digital channels, CBBC and CBeebies and their websites.
Joe spoke about the strides which have been made in the portrayal of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans (LGBT) families; far from the days of “Are you being served” and the “Carry on Films” thankfully.
Joe emphasized that his aim and that of the BBC Children’s Section is not just about looking at LGBT programming in isolation, but to look at the broader based issues of Diversity-ethnicity, disability, gender roles and sexual orientation.
He said that if CBBC and CBeebies programming makes people think about their attitudes to difference a lot would have been achieved. Joe thinks that although there have been improvements in the programming of LGBT people, that there is still a lot to be done with “normalizing” their lives. His aim within the BBC is to encourage children to understand and accept difference as the rich diversity of all human beings.
We had a lively discussion following Joe’s initial talk and thanked him for giving up his time to be with us, and to share the exciting news of new developments in programming of LGBT people. We look forward to the broadcasting of a fascinating new programme which will be aired in September 2014 on CBBC. 
By Joanne Manson 



Setting up Ricochet

When I arrived in Bridport three years ago, there was no support group for parents of gay children in Dorset; or further west in Devon and Cornwall; or further east in Hampshire. The only group in the whole peninsula was the long established Bristol Families & Friends. Finding Families Together London had been such a relief when I learnt that both my children were gay and I knew there must be parents near my new home who would be feeling as I had once. 
I wasn’t sure where to begin in starting a group from scratch. What should I call it? Where would it be based? Would I have to pay to advertise? Would I be inundated with enquiries?  Or would I struggle to track down anyone who could possibly be interested? If people did come, would I be any help to them?
I got lots of friendly advice from the Intercom Trust in Exeter – and from FFLAG, of course. And, having spent almost two years attending sessions at Families Together London, I knew what success ought to look like.
The order of play went something like this:
Come up with a name. 
Buy a mobile phone and record a message welcoming callers to the helpline. Keep phone close by, all the time. Expect broken sleep.
Design website, using a free and easy design site called Weebly.  Get site hosted.
Plan monthly meetings, on a Saturday afternoon so that people who work can come along.
Find a venue. I wanted somewhere central, inexpensive, anonymous, unconnected with the gay world. Some of the old community fire-stations offer rooms for free so that’s what we’ve gone for now. For the first two years we hired a room.
Write a press release announcing the launch of the group. Expect to write a press release once a month thereafter to advertise the date of the next meeting.
Expect to put your hand in your own pocket to pay for it all. I calculated that in my first year I spent about £500 on venue hire, mobile phone rental, printing, website hosting and so on. It sounds more bearable if you think it’s less than £10 a week. Some groups ask for a contribution from parents who come along. 
Four couples came to Ricochet’s first meeting. They had read about the launch of the group in the Dorset Echo and had rung the helpline to find out more. They felt confused, isolated, and daunted. One mother couldn’t speak. More than one clutched tissues. I found I didn’t really have to say anything. The main thing was to listen. Talking to each other that first afternoon made an immediate difference. Many who came to those early sessions still come two years on to help make newcomers welcome and reassure them that things do indeed get better. People come from across the region and we have even had enquiries from the Channel Islands.
Our group is still small. Some months we may be as few as three sharing our stories over a cup of tea or coffee. Our biggest session was last July when a lesbian couple and their third child joined us to talk about gay parenting. This summer, we plan to invite two men who have adopted successfully and some of us will be going to Bourne Free, Bournemouth’s pride festival to publicise Ricochet and to hand out leaflets. 
It would be wonderful if there were a network of accessible groups to reach everyone across the country. It takes courage to set up your own group but the rewards are fantastic. It is a great way to make new friends and to spread the word that being gay is just another version of normal.



News from New Roads Parents, Worcestershire

New Road Parents Group met on the evening of Shrove Tuesday at our usual venue - a private house in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire. We enjoyed pancakes and welcomed two ‘new’ parents – one of whom had contacted me whilst working in the Far East. They had been living out there for several months and their son had come out to them when he visited them a few weeks ago and she was still feeling surprised and raw. She had looked us up on the internet and was surprised to see that our meetings took place only two roads away from their Bromsgrove home! She was back in the UK in time so she bravely came to the LGBT History Month family-friendly event funded by the District Council at the Arts Centre in Bromsgrove on February 6th. So too did the other new parent, who has a gay daughter, so Irene Dudley and I had met them before our meeting of the group. 
On March 4th there were eight of us parents present. We had a guest speaker Matthew Lacey from Worcester Community Housing Trust who had heard me briefly talking about the parents’ support group on Free Radio and had contacted me following this. He spoke about his own journey in coming out and the equality policies that are in place in working environments now. These were not in place when he was first in the navy and then in the police force. He had been made to leave the navy despite a successful career and no wrongdoing, simply because he acknowledged he was gay. It was a most informative and interesting talk from a very personable guy, and we learnt a lot. He also said he had not considered how parents might react, so he was just as interested to learn from us.
The History Month event at the Artrix was well attended and the Wizard of Oz was also shown as a free film. Our New Road Parents stall was one of many in the display to do with equality and diversity, and the police had a stall drawing attention to Hate Crime and how it is tackled. One of our parents had also managed the display stall in Redditch on February 1st – the first time there had been an exhibition presented there in the Library. It included a poster exhibition ‘Living my Life: Celebrating the Lives of Trans People’ which was shown in both towns.  Bromsgrove and Redditch Councils collaborated with LGBT History Month and a glossy leaflet was produced advertising the events and displays in various venues throughout the month. 
New Road Parents meet alternate months with the Birmingham Parents’ Support Group and there is some crossover with members attending both - some who travel from as far as Coventry.
Margaret Evans



Prayers for Bobby

As part of LGBT History Month, Rev. Sharon Ferguson, Chief Executive of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, (LGCM), and pastor of Metropolitan Community Church North London in Camden invited a representative of FFLAG to a showing of the film “Prayers for Bobby”. Bruce Kent, FFLAG Trustee and his wife Janet attended.
After the film, Bruce and Janet led an open discussion about the issues that this film raised.  ‘Prayers for Bobby’ is based on the true story of the life and legacy of Bobby Griffith, a young gay man who killed himself in 1983 due to his mother's and their church community's homophobia. The film stars Ryan Kelley as Bobby Griffith and Sigourney Weaver as his mother, Mary.
Mary did, after much soul-searching, eventually manage to come to understand the horrific errors of the fundamentalist Christian church teachings and went on to be a powerful force for change as an early member of PFLAG (The American counterpart of FFLAG).
This film is an emotionally harrowing story for anyone who (themselves or a loved one) has suffered as a result of religious intolerance of LGBT people.  Bruce and Janet were able to talk freely about their own religious prejudices and the heart rending trauma this caused when their own son came out as gay and the ongoing work of FFLAG to support families in similar situations.
Bruce, himself, said “I tried to read the book three times before I was able to finish it.  The image of Bobby, with all hope gone from his life, falling backwards over the freeway bridge into the path of an oncoming truck, was too much to prevent the tears from flowing freely.”
The discussion in Camden with the delightful MCC and LGCM members and their guests, was, at times, deeply moving, as different ones contributed their own insights and experiences.  Some found the film truly helpful in understanding more of the conflicts that parents face when their strongly held religious beliefs come into violent conflict with their acceptance of their dearly love children.  



A Lush Day

On Saturday Feb 8th, two FFLAG mums spent a very worthwhile (though chilly!) day standing by a table loaded with FFLAG literature near the door of the Exeter branch of Lush (the organic soap & cosmetics company).  
We had been invited there to publicise FFLAG and all we do at a time when LGBT rights were high on the news media agenda due to Russian President Putin’s notorious comments effectively equating ‘homosexuality and paedophilia’ and telling the gays ‘…just to leave the kids alone please’.
Lush, who provide significant financial support to FFLAG already, were running a ‘Sign of Love’ campaign in the run up to the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics hosted by Russia.  They were encouraging customers to paint pink triangles on themselves as a sign of solidarity with Russia’s LGBT community.  Lush itself has many shops in Russia and it was unclear if participating in these would be in violation of the country’s ban on ‘gay propaganda’.
So what was the response of customers to us?  Well, in general, it was very British!  It was a busy day (despite the wind and rain) and the mainly young female customers glanced at us as they came in and out.  Some even stopped to look.  Some mentioned us to the friends they were with.  And then, throughout the day, some people stayed and talked to us about moving, heart-warming, personal and profound issues in their lives or lives of those they knew or loved.  Perhaps that we were so obviously there in support of children who we love and respect had something to do with their openness.  Perhaps they just wanted an opportunity to talk through matters of concern to them and theirs.  Some people asked for information.  Some people even told us about help and services they could offer.
So was it worth it?  Yes! And a big thank you to Lush for providing the opportunity.


We are delighted to be working with SHOR, an online portal reflecting the experiences of South Asian LGBTQ people and their families and friends. We feel privileged to be able to share a moving interview of Devi, a mother of South Asian descent and the struggle she faced on learning that her daughter Davina is lesbian. Devi was interviewed by Aashi Gahlot and her story appears on our website under My Story. 
In Hindi, ‘SHOR’ means to break the silence and to make some noise. To find out more about the way SHOR works to help educate and inspire others to be themselves and accept others for who they are, visit SHOR

Devi's Story

With kind permission from SHOR we have published Devi's story.

Click here to



Sign of Love

FFLAG is delighted to be part of Lush Cosmetics 'Sign of Love' campaign in February. The campaign is being run as aprotest at the oppressive anti-gay legislation in Russia in the face of the Sochi Games. 
Events for the campaign are being held at Lush stores internationally - that is apart from Russia where it would be seen as breaking the anti-gay laws. 
FFLAG parents have been invited to be part of the Sign of Love campaign at the Lush store in Exeter, Devon on February 8th, to raise awareness of FFLAG's work and the support on offer. 
Lush in Oxford are holding a Sign of Love event and Charity Pot party for FFLAG again on February 8th. 
Lush in Leicester gave a very warm welcome to founder member of FFLAG and of Leicester Parents Support Group, Betty Walker. 
We are extremely grateful for the Lush their continued and ongoing support.



LGBT History Month

Lesbian Gay Bisexual Trans History Month takes place every year in February. It celebrates the lives and achievements of the LGBT community.
There are events being held across the country. Parents Support Groups in towns and cities from Birmingham to Truro, from Bristol to Manchester are involved. There will be LGBT book displays in libraries and LGBT Historical Tours across 
the country too. FFLAG Patrons Peter Tatchell  and Ian Rivers are very involved in LGBTHM.Peter will be giving a talk on the struggles for LGBT rights from 1958-2014 and Ian is a Patron of LGBTHM.
As part of LGBT History Month FFLAG Trustees are taking part in Pride in Plymouth's 'We Are Family' event on February 8th.'We Are Family' is a free daytime community event with a focus on alternative families, same sex parents and equality & diversity issues. In addition to giving a talk on the work of FFLAG, we will be taking part in a live panel debate headed by Shaun Delenty (Founder of Inclusion for All).  
For a full calendar of events visit LGBT History Month Website



FFLAG Parents take part in Video

The Equality Network have published: 'It's Time' - Scotland's equal marriage video campaign. 

We are really proud to have taken part in this amazing campaign


Thank You Emily!

We are really sorry to be saying goodbye to our wonderful Treasurer Emily Kent. Emily has been  Treasurer for the past five years and has worked tirelessly to set FFLAG’s finances on the sure footing they are today. Emily has volunteered her time whilst busy bringing up four young children and setting up a new business with her husband. The Trustees all wish Emily and family every success in the future and thank her for all her hard work.
This means we are now looking for a new Treasurer! So if you or anyone you know would be willing and able to volunteer we would love to hear from you. Emily has kindly agreed to do a full hand over of the role. The Trustees meet quarterly in Bristol and ideally we would like the Treasurer to attend most of the meetings. Travel expenses would of course be paid.
Do please contact us by email or through Facebook or Twitter
Once again huge thanks to Emily and we look forward to hearing from a potential new Treasurer soon!



We received this lovely “Thank You” to put in to the annual FFLAG Newsletter.  We were so moved we wanted to share it with as wide an audience as possible and put it out on our website. Receiving something like this makes us renew our efforts in supporting our LGBT loved ones and their families. 

Coming Out & Thanks 

In my early teens I always thought that I was different but I was not really sure why or what that difference was. As the years went on I came to realise that I was most likely gay and that my life was somewhat different from that of my family and friends. I don’t think I was afraid to tell my family, more that I was still discovering who I was and needed to work that out for myself. I grew up in a rural location where there wasn’t much of a gay scene, the time I did spend on that scene was secretive and based around little white lies of where I was going and what I was up to. A combination of me living a ‘secretive’ life and wanting to travel, I decided to take a year out and go travelling.
I was the other side of the world and found myself in my first relationship. It was all very new and quite exciting and I found myself wanting to share this with my family. I took the easy option and decided to embrace technology and text my sister that I had met someone. After a short exchange of messages I had confirmed that that someone was a man and I was gay. It wasn’t long before the whole family knew and my mum was trying to plan a ‘coming out party’ I had always known in my heart that my family would still accept me but there was always that worry. I don’t  know why but my biggest fear was that my dad would not hug me again if he knew I was gay. A fear completely unfounded but one of the many different fears & emotions you experience when coming out. 
As you can see I have had very easy and pleasurable experience in coming out, so much so I even joked to my family about it being a bit of an anticlimax with no dramas! Though we all know there are still many, many people who’s coming out is not that easy and happy experience and these people and their families need support, encouragement and love. This is where the Mums and Dads of FFLAG play such an important role with their dedication to support the families of the LGBT community. These parents are continuing to fight for pure equality for their and others children. On behalf of myself, my friends and the LGBT community I would like to thank the parents of FFLAG for their ongoing support, love and the fight they have fought to make our lives better. 




Celebrating an historic moment!

Equal marriage is now enshrined in law. The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill received Royal Assent on July 17th. The first same sex couples will be able to marry sometime in the middle of 2014 when it is enacted. This is a truly momentous time for all those who have fought so hard for marriage equality. So many organisations have worked alongside one another to make this happen. As parents it has been uplifting to hear the powerful and poignant speeches made in both
Houses of Parliament. Lord Jenkin of Roding spoke of ‘the character of love which marriage reflects – faithful, stable, tough, unselfish and unconditional’ and that the passing of equal marriage ‘was a victory for common sense’.
There have been some difficult times as the bill made its way through both Houses of Parliament. We have had to listen to some very unpleasant and hurtful speeches from those MPs and peers who vigorously opposed the bill. There were wrecking amendments and attempts to derail it at every stage. However pro­equality campaigners maintained the pressure to ensure the passage of the bill.
Vigils were held outside Parliament as the bill was voted on at each reading.
Pro­equality campaigners held a day­long vigil outside the House of Lords as the bill had its Third Reading on July 15th. We were so pleased that we were able to be there as the bill was approved by the peers. It felt very special to be part of such an historic and welcome day for our gay and lesbian sons and daughters.
‘Gay marriage is something I believe we can be proud of as a country’ David Cameron


Becoming President - Jenny Broughton

To have been asked to be President of FFLAG is a great honour and privilege, and I am very conscious that I am following in the footsteps of a remarkable woman, Rose Robertson.
Having been a founder member, FFLAG and its work are very dear to my heart and I will do my best, as President, to make a useful contribution to that work.
We are all aware of the amazing progress which has been made since FFLAG was set up in 1993 and I am very proud of all our members who campaigned with the LGB community for the repeal of Section 28, Equalisation of the Age of Consent, Gays in the military and Civil Partnerships among other issues. It was a bumpy ride at times but we were in such good company!
This legislation was crucial in the fight for equality but it does not immediately change hearts and minds and there are still families who find the issues difficult to cope with and this is where FFLAG can help. We can give information and support and because we are all out and proud parents of gay and lesbian daughters and sons, in my case a wonderful daughter, our support comes from a personal awareness of the journey many parents have to take.
The future holds more challenges, particularly in the crucial area of respect for diversity in children of primary school age, their parents and their teachers. I look forward to working with my wonderful colleagues to continue this work until the day comes, (hopefully in my lifetime!) when we are no longer needed".
Jenny Broughton ­ President FFLAG



Lush Charity Auction

"FFLAG was recently invited to Lush's Charity Auction at their annual international conference in Windsor. Lush Charity Pot has kindly supported FFLAG in the past. Lush Charity Pot supports grassroots charities working in the areas of animal protection, the environmentand human rights.
We were invited as a representative of human rights charities – because gay rights are human rights.
It was wonderful to meet Lush staff from around the globe and to have time to talk to so many people who felt so passionately about the work that they do – and the charities Lush supports. Before the auction, Trustee Sorrel Atkinson was asked to give a short motivational speech about the work of FFLAG.
'It was a bit nerve­racking to stand up and talk in front of 600 people. The atmosphere was electric and when I said that I was the out and proud mum of a gay son, I was met with whoops and cheers.' said Sorrel.
"Everyone was so attentive and interested in the work that FFLAG does. It was the most amazing evening. The auction was completely whacky – introduced by a pantomime cow. Items auctioned included everything from a Vivian Westwood signed teeshirt to an all expenses paid trip to Guatemala."
Although there isn't an exact figure yet, the donation from the Lush Charity auction is set to be the largest single donation that FFLAG has ever had. The generosity of all those who took part in that memorable evening will ensure that FFLAG will be able to continue to reach out to all those who need our support. Our most sincere and heartfelt thanks to everyone at Lush!



More Support!

We are delighted to announce that there are two new sources of support for parents of LGBT sons and daughters in the South of England.
There is now a parents group run under the auspices of Allsorts Youth Project.
Allsorts is based in Brighton to support and empower young people under 26 who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans or unsure (LGBTU) of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. To get in touch with the Allsorts Parents Group, ring Sara on
07880708207 Mon -­ Fri 2­6pm
or email
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Some years ago FFLAG was able to support to a mum called Eve when her child came out. Eve is now offering support to other parents of LGBT children on the Isle of Wight. Island life can be isolating and can pose different challenges so it is great that Eve will be there to support parents in that environment.
The Isle of Wight helpline is 01983 618856 and is available Mon­ - Fri 10.30­ - 4pm and 7pm - ­9pm.


Bereavement Support

The Department of Psychological Sciences at University of Liverpool are conducting research into bereavement amongst gay/bisexual male couples, and are interviewing men over 18 who were in a relationship for at least two years and have been bereaved for over 6 months.
They believe that research into this area is practically non­existent outside the HIV/Aids arena and are looking to interview at least 40 men.
FFLAG Trustee John Bedford, who is to be interviewed as part of the survey commented that in an ideal world bereavement should be the same for loving couples whether gay or straight but it is not an ideal world and the research should be very interesting.
Any one interested can contact
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Steven is conducting interviews in various parts of the country.




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



Messages of support at 'Coming Out 2013'

FLAG Patrons Sir Ian McKellen CH, CBE and Baroness Massey of Darwen were unable to attend the 20th Anniversary Conference as they both out of the country. Their messages of support were warmly met by the delegates.

'Even as we celebrate FFLAG's twentieth year, it is more than a bit depressing that there should still be a need for the organisation. During the last two decades the law in the UK has at last ceased to discriminate against gay people young and old. But that still leaves confusion amongst many families about their reaction to gay children who want to be
open about their sexuality.
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 and has my full support now and in the future. I am sorry not to be at the conference and hope it is a great success.'
Ian McKellen
'Young people need all the help they can get in negotiating their lives. Young lesbian, gay and bisexual people may be particularly vulnerable to discrimination, misunderstanding, bullying and lack of support. Parents too need support to help their children.
It is sad that so many schools don't have adequate programmes of Personal, Social and Health Education to give young people confidence in their relationships and sexuality.
This is where FFLAG comes in. It is an organisation based on experience and commitments to the rights of young lesbian, gay and bisexual people to be values and respected. It recognises the concerns of parents and gives practical support. Good luck for the future!'
Baroness Massey
We were very sorry that FFLAG's Patron Deidre Sanders was unwell at the weekend and was unable to attend. We were so looking forward to hearing her speak. We very much hope that she is now fully recovered.




National Diversity Awards

FFLAG has been nominated for a prestigious national award for our work in the LGBT community. We are absolutely delighted. This is fantastic news, particularly as it comes in our 20th Anniversary year.

The National Diversity Awards recognise the achievements of grass roots organisations that tackle the issues in today’s society. We now need YOU to vote for us please! We need votes and commendations from all our supporters and friends to ensure that we go through to the final round in September. It is really easy to vote for us via the link above – a quick click and a few words on why you think we deserve the award.
To win this award would raise FFLAG’s profile and increase awareness of the work that all volunteers, parents and friends do around the country.
It would be a fantastic way to recognise the dedication and hard work of all those involved in the FFLAG family.
A big thank you to those who have helped us to achieve all that we have so far.
And now we ask you to support us with your vote.


Hisotric vote for Same-Sex Marriage

In an historic moment for equal rights in the UK, after a day of heated debate, MPs voted by 400 to 175 to legalise same­sex marriage. The debate was intense and often fraught. Anyone listening to it couldn't fail to be moved by the passion expressed by both sides of the divide – and divide there certainly was.
Many MPs spoke with eloquence and intensity – and the most moving speeches were made by gay MPs

'Equality is Absolute'

Bristol West Liberal Democrat, Stephen Williams, noted he was born in 1966, when homosexuality was a criminal offence."During my life we have seen much progress, but it has come in fits and starts and has not always been easy," he said.
"Throughout my teenage years and my years at university, being openly gay was virtually impossible, because occasionally it could be a terrifying identity for an individual to have."I am thinking of the abuse that I received myself, and the far worse that I saw meted out to other people at school and university.
"What I say to colleagues on both sides of the House who oppose what we are trying to achieve today is please have some empathy with what your fellow citizens have been through. Equality is not something that can be delivered partially—equality is absolute."
Former Conservative police minister, Nick Herbert, who was also born before being gay was decriminalised. "Not so long ago, it was possible to sack someone because they were gay," he said. "People did not dare to be open. Thank goodness so much has changed in my lifetime. That progress should be celebrated, but we should not believe
that the journey is complete. I think of the gay children who are still bullied at school or who are fearful about whether their friends and families accept them.
I think of sportsmen and women—vital role models—who still do not feel able to come out. The signal we send today about whether the law fully recognises the place of gay people in our society will really matter."
Liberal Democrat MP Stephen Gilbert spoke of his experience as a gay working­class teenager growing up in rural Cornwall where it was hugely difficult for him to be open, honest and up­front with his family, friends and workmates. He said that he welcomed the Bill that would be sending out the signal that people are valued equally across the country. "That signal will deeply affect people like me is the same way I was affected 20 years ago , when the House voted to equalise the age of consent, That was the first time I saw other gay people on a TV screen and it was the first time that I realised I was not alone. It changed my life".
Margot James, the first openly lesbian Tory MP said that "Having been different for most of my life, I can assure you that being treated equal is very welcome indeed"

'Personal Battles'

Crispin Blunt, Conservative MP for Reigate, said the Bill was part of an "astonishing and wonderful change" that had taken place over the past 50 years which had "taken millions of us from criminalisation to legal equality and the enjoyment of self­worth and validation. Those sentiments were certainly not apparent to me as a young man. I thought there was something wrong with me that had to be mastered, and for three decades I managed that struggle. The relief and happiness that comes from not having to do so any longer is due to the courage of others who fought for all the measures to advance equality over the past five decades that are the precursors to today's Bill."
Stewart Andrew, the Conservative MP for Pudsey, spoke of his "personal battles" and "some of the most troubling and dark times" in his life. "Many people have spoken and written about deeply held religious beliefs. From an early age, I developed those beliefs, going to church without the support of my family. That faith grew over time, but in my adolescence, I began to realise that I was gay. Being gay in a small Welsh village really was like being the only gay in the village. It was the start of some very deep questioning about my faith and my sexuality that has taken me years to try to resolve, and I am still seeking answers."

'Simply Asking for Equal Treatment'

It was another Conservative MP, Mike Freer, (Finchley and Golders Green) who made what is widely regarded as one of the most moving speeches. "I thought long and hard about seeking to speaking in this debate. I genuinely feared the tone of the debate and how colleagues would seek to oppose the bill. So when colleagues talked about gay marriage making them physically sick – or when colleagues suggested it was a step towards legalising polygamy or incest ­ They need to remember that there are people involved – people's lives are involved – and we should 
remember that the words spoken in this chamber hurt far beyond this chamber when we speak". Mr Freer told the Commons that the proudest day of his life was six years ago when he entered into a civil partnership with his partner of 21 years.
"Our civil partnership was a huge step forward for us, and yet many argue that we should be content with our civil partnership – after all it affords all of the same legal protections as marriage – but I ask my married colleagues, did you get married for legal protections it afforded you? Did you go down on one knee and say 'darling, please give me the protections marriage affords us? Of course you didn't. My civil partnership was our way of saying to my friends and my family this is who I love, this is who I am, this is who I wish to spend the rest of my life with."
Mr Freer added: "I'm not asking for special treatment I am simply asking for equal treatment. "I am a member of this Parliament. I sit alongside you in committees, in the bars and in the tea rooms. I queue alongside you in the division lobbies. But when it comes to marriage, why are you asking me to stand apart and to join a separate queue? I ask you: if I am equal in this House, give me every opportunity to be equal."

'No Room for Complacency'

FFLAG Patron Peter Tatchell comments "The bill may still face strong opposition. The next major battle on the bill will be in the House of Lords, where the outcome is far from certain. The opponents of equal marriage are determined to make a last ditch stand in defence of marriage discrimination. They want to keep lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people as second class, unequal citizens."
The Roman Catholic church made clear that it would use the strong objections to the bill voiced by MPs across the house to maintain its campaign against same­sex marriage. The anti­equal marriage group Coalition for Marriage, said that this would not be the end of the fight against gay marriage.
Philip Hensher writing in The Independent commented 'Marriages come in all shapes and sizes. Yours is not like your neighbours, and is certainly not like the marriage that you might have had 50 years ago. The description of a formal, legal union between people of the same sex as "marriage" is an important step. People understand a marriage in ways which they do not, quite, understand a civil partnership.'
As parents and friends who do all we can to support our LGBT loved ones, we can do no better than to quote Peter Tatchell again 'Our love will triumph over their prejudice'


Full of Pride

We are both proud and delighted that FFLAG Patron Michael Cashman has been named in the New Year’s Honours List as a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE), for his tireless fight for equality.
“This announcement is as big a surprise at it is an honour”, he commented “I have had an amazing life where I have been able to stand up for the values and principles which I believe in and to effect real change for my life and the lives of others. Not a day goes by when I don’t recognise how lucky and fortunate I have been in my life.” he continued. “Whilst we have achieved so much in terms of legal equality for LGBT people in the UK we still have so much more to do. Discrimination still exists and it destroys and blights so many lives. In other parts of the world people are imprisoned, criminalised or face capital punishment simply because they are different. On behalf of all those people I proudly accept this honour and commit to continue the fight for equality”, he concluded.
Michael has been a Labour Member of the European Parliament for the West Midlands for the last 15 years. In this capacity, he is co­presiding the Intergroup for LGBT Rights and is continuously campaigning for inclusive legislation, horizontal non­discrimination frameworks and a more transparent and democratic decision­making process within the EU and beyond. For his work, he was 2 times awarded the title of MEP of the year (2007 and 2012) and received the European Diversity Lifetime Achievement Award (2012).


Will He Change?

“Mum, don’t ask me questions the answers to which you won’t like,” he would say every time she confronted him about staying overnight at his partner’s house on Saturday nights, which he’d been doing for several years. His mum insisted nevertheless. “Mum sensed,” he says. “Parents don’t want to see it, but they always sense. By asking questions, she wanted to clear her mind. Because she did not know exactly what she was to face.”
One night she asked him: “I know you love him. But is that normal love, son?” He replied: “Mum, in Turkey many people don’t consider it ‘normal’.” In shock, she burst into tears, tears he couldn’t control. From that moment on, mother and son lived as two foreigners in the same house, barely speaking to each other. And every Saturday, he would go to stay at his partner’s.
Hasan Metehan Özkan is one of the founders of LISTAG, an Istanbul­based voluntary support and solidarity group for families of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) people. In Turkey, the law does not protect people against discrimination on sexual orientation or gender identity grounds. Hate crime is not uncommon, institutionalised and everyday discrimination is a reality, and homophobia is rife. “Homophobia and transphobia kill people in Turkey,” Özkan says. It killed sixteen people in 2010, and at least six in 2012.
The group’s meeting place, the feminist Amargi Cafe, is now closing down as a result of self­ criticism and the need for reinvention, but its activities will no doubt continue: hundreds of people are or have been involved with LISTAG since its founding in 2008. Özkan says there is no accurate information available for families of LGBT people who often perceive their children’s sexuality, by default, as “immoral”, “wrong”, and “shameful”. In desperation, he translated an English leaflet for his mother the night they stopped talking. She wouldn’t read it.
Özkan’s activism started in the 2000s, when he was working on social projects at university. During a trip to Sicily, he met Jenny Broughton and Paola Dall’Orto, activist mothers for gay people’s families in the UK andy Italy, respectively. “It was the first time in my life when I could openly cry on a mother’s shoulder,” Özkan says. Having started a PhD in social anthropology, he decided to be brave. “Academic research only stays in the library,” he says. “I wanted my research to have a positive impact on the society.” He calls it “action research”. And so the LISTAG project started – a challenge for Özkan himself, for he decided his support group would also help him come out to his own mother, then in her early seventies.
After discussions with other LGBT activists in Istanbul, his first point of contact was Sema, mother of a gay man who had been interviewed by a newspaper a couple of years before. He called her and explained the idea. “I’m in,” she said without hesitation. An acquaintance pulled their mother in, one more joined by coincidence, and suddenly “it was like a snowball”, Özkan says. The group would hold meetings attended by psychiatrists, to help the mothers (mostly it’s mothers, although fathers, siblings, aunts and a granny attend too) share their feelings and experiences, and by doing so learn to accept their child as they are, and be proud of them.
Istanbul Pride 2012 (LISTAG - Metehan)“It’s recommended to come out to one’s parents while still living together, otherwise once you leave, they will be left with a hot potato,” Özkan says. “When they find out, they feel like their child has gone and a stranger has moved in. They mourn. It takes time for them to accept that their child is still the same person, only with that one thing they didn’t know before.”
Parents from LISTAG and FFLAG . His own mother is the woman in front row in a white T­shirt and sunglasses.
Istanbul Pride 2012 (LISTAG ­ Metehan Özkan)
His own mother, however, continued to resist for a long time. “But I didn’t give up,” Özkan says. Neither did he fall into the destructive trap of self­denial. “I said ‘No lies’. No ‘Don’t worry, it won’t happen again’ nonsense. I was honest with her, but at the time, she didn’t want to listen. I was lucky to have my other mothers [the group’s mothers] around, though. My mother would call me and ask, ‘Where are you?’ I would reply, ‘I’m with my mothers’. This way, I made her jealous. I showed her that she could lose me.”
Slowly, the approach was working. One day, as Özkan was having coffee with the support group, his mother called. Gathering all his courage, he passed the phone to Sema, one of the group’s mothers. “Will he change?” his mum asked Sema, sobbing. “Let’s have a coffee,” came the reply.
Some time later, Özkan’s mother accompanied him and his partner to Rome and London Prides, waving a “Proud of a gay kid” poster from the top of a pink bus. That conversation over a coffee, as well as many other conversations and group sessions with LISTAG’s parents, had brought her close to him again. “After coming to the meetings, parents realise they are not the only ones with gay children,” Özkan says. “But it’s not group therapy. The real therapy is parents sharing their experiences.”
In Turkey as elsewhere, the main problem for people outside the hetero­normative mainstream is stubbornly limiting cultural norms and “What will the neighbours say?!” attitudes. “It’s cultural hypocrisy. From the outside, Turkey might look like a gay paradise – kisses on both cheeks, warm hugs, gay pop stars on stage are OK – but most Turks wouldn’t want to have a gay person as their neighbour,” Özkan says.
LISTAG has produced Benim Çocugum (My Child), a documentary film based on interviews with parents from the support group, which premieres in February 2013. To understand how much courage it took them to appear on camera, one has to see the movie. Özkan explains: “It’s an age­related project, too. I witnessed so many mothers – housewives, pensioners – regain purpose and meaning in life: to help others by sharing their own experiences, to make their lives better.” Lifting a pint of beer to his lips, he concludes: “Every time I see a mother change, I’m happy.”


Icing on the cake!

We are delighted to learn that Lush Cosmetics are featuring FFLAG on their Charity Pot lids this Christmas. Lush Charity Pot kindly granted us funds this summer to help us bring parents together from the UK and Turkey to celebrate World Pride in London. It was an amazing event enabling parents to share experiences and to show solidarity with their LGBT sons and daughters.
So the icing on the cake is that Lush has chosen FFLAG to feature on their Charity Pot. The Charity Pot cream is based on Fairtrade organic cocoa butter and almond oil and costs £12.75 for 240g pot.
As Mark from Lush explains “We often have trouble explaining our Charity Pot to people – because usually charity products only give an amount, like £1, from each sale to charity, or "all profit" to charity. But with this product we give ALL the money you pay to charity, not just the profit. The only thing we take out is the VAT, which we have to give to the government. Lush will give our time, Lush will give our raw materials and Lush will give our shop space – if you will be kind enough to buy it”
Lush take none of their costs back ­ that is their donation. By buying it, you are adding yours – then the whole amount goes into the Charity Pot Fund.
Please go out and buy a Charity Pot or two for yourself, friends or family. You will be doing your bit to raise awareness of FFLAG and enjoying a very special product.
And so a big, BIG thank you to everyone at Lush for all their support this year!


Patrons with Attitude!

We are truly delighted that two of our Patrons, Sir Ian McKellen and Peter Tatchell have been awarded Icon Awards for Outstanding Achievements at the recent Attitude Awards. We are very proud of them and so grateful for all that they do to support FFLAG. We have printed the citations that accompanied the awards and couldn’t agree more with the comments.
‘Internationally acclaimed thespian, outspoken LGBT rights activist, knight of the realm, and Gandalf to boot; Sir Ian McKellen is truly a national treasure beyond compare. Sir Ian is the man who came out when virtually no one famous would, the man who co­founded the lobby group that has changed all our lives, a man who continues to speak up for gay rights around the world.’
‘Though Peter was once routinely bullied and bloodied in the street, he is now lauded even by the Daily Mail for his efforts to tackle some of histories most disturbing characters such as Robert Mugabe and Nick Griffin. Peter spends his every waking hour working to improve the lives of others, with unparalleled levels of humility and self­sacrifice. Provocative, controversial and totally fearless, Peter has been on the front line of LGBT emancipation for decades, the scourge of homophobic and hypocritical politicians and public figures. ‘




It's OK 2BU!

FFLAG recently attended Equality South West's conference 'It's OK2BU' at Somerset College, Taunton. The conference looked at the issues faced by young lesbian, gay bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBT) people in schools, colleges, workplaces and communities.
Research in the South West shows that, even today many young LGBT people do not feel that it's ok to be themselves. They continue to face people who are ignorant and prejudiced and young LGBT people are made to feel uncomfortable or even unsafe in their surroundings.
Human Resources Director of the College, Sheena Murphy­Collett spoke movingly about her own personal 'coming out' experience. It was heartening to learn that she met the person who was to become her civil partner when they were both in their teens. Sheena talked about the zero tolerance of any sort of homophobic/transphobic 'banter' and the open and supportive atmosphere there is at Somerset College towards LGBT students and staff.
Speakers included Andrew Wilson, founder of the youth group 2BU, Jonathon Charlesworth of Education Action Challenging Homophobia (EACH), and representatives from Stonewall and the Government's Equalities Office Berkeley Wilde of The Diversity Trust gave a presentation ' Delivering Equality: LGBT people in Somerset and their experiences of health and social care'
There was discussion around 'cyber homophobia' and how bullying can follow a young person from school in to their home via the various social media such as Facebook and Twitter.
One of the workshops, run by members of the 2BU youth group entitled 'What's the point? Nothing will change...' looked at young LGBT people's experiences in schools/colleges and how this has affected their mental health.
Lest we get complacent and think that things are okay for young LGBT people we need to remember the impact that homophobic or transphobic 'banter' has on our young people. We all need to work together to ensure that young people can be out, proud and valued... and that it is indeed OK to be you!


We Are Family

A new quarterly magazine for LGBT families is about to hit the news­stands. It’s called We Are Family and there is a pre­launch issue available on line now.
We Are Family recently contacted FFLAG Chair, Sue and her husband Bob, who is a FFLAG Trustee. They interviewed Sue and Bob about their experience when their daughter came out and about founding the parents’ support group Bristol Family and Friends. Read the full story in the pre­ launch issue which can be downloaded as a pdf on
Besides true life stories such as Sue and Bob’s, the magazine will feature celebrity interviews, news and reviews, lifestyle articles and a problem page. They will explore all the routes to same­sex parenting such as co­parenting, surrogacy, donor insemination, IVF, adoption and fostering. They will explore challenging areas such as how to tackle homophobic bullying in schools. They will also be exploring the experiences of and issues of interest to LGBT grandparents, youth, their friends and extended family members as well as support networks for LGBT families.
There is certainly a need for a magazine that will engage the whole LGBT family in its widest sense. Let’s hope it meets the needs of its readers and that it proves to be a success.
The first issue of the magazine is due out at the end of January 2013, with a cover price of £3.50



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