When Lester and Elaine Sharlach renew their PFLAG National membership in 2018, it will mark 30 years since they started giving to PFLAG.
Their son came out 40 years ago, well before PFLAG had a national headquarters--they had been been members since it was known simply as PoG, or Parents of Gays. They met Jeanne Manford at a PFLAG NYC meeting and marched alongside her in Manhattan, and later lobbied the Boy Scouts, as far back as 1990, to consider changing their anti-gay policies.
Lester says they started supporting PFLAG because of their son, but they continue their support today due to their belief that PFLAG’s mission is still relevant, and the work done is still highly beneficial. What they get in return is satisfaction, both in knowing PFLAG continues the fight thanks to donors like them and in the idea that they will help pass the baton to a new generation of supporters.
But things have changed for the better. After their chapter started receiving calls from parents of trans children, they recruited one to help them found what is now PFLAG Norwalk. Through the group, older members have become what Lester describes as a pseudo-parents to some of the youngest and most vulnerable PFLAGers.
“The first five years were very difficult”, Lester noted. “We didn’t have the kind of acceptance we have today. Back then, we only had a one-inch space in the obituary section where they would let us promote a pride parade”.
After three decades of activism and advocacy, Lester and Elaine continue that work by supporting a local organization in addition to PFLAG National. Their organization of choice is the Triangle Community Center in Norwalk, Connecticut, where PFLAG Norwalk meet.
In the 66 years since they took their vows, Lester and Elaine have seen it all, from the Civil Rights movement of the 60s to the Obergefell v. Hodges decision that gave us marriage equality in 2015. And, through it all, they have helped PFLAG grow into the large, sprawling network of allies and supporters it is today.
We thank them for their continued commitment to supporting PFLAG.