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 events@fflag.org.uk 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.

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.

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 above 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.
In the picture above are: Bruce, Janet and Katie at Trans Pride South West  25/09/2016

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 fnancial 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.

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!


Ricochet

ricochet-dorset.org

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

bristolfamiliesandfriends.org.uk

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

parentsofjewishgaysandlesbians.co.uk

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.

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.

LUSH flies the FFLAG in Solihull

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

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