July 30, 2018

PFLAG envisions a world where diversity is celebrated and all people are respected, valued, and affirmed inclusive of their sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. 

Our bold organizational vision requires PFLAGers to engage and connect and learn as much as they can about the experience of holding multiple identities, and working together with other organizations that do the same.

The intersection of sexuality, gender identity, and race is the focus of this work for many PFLAG chapters, and one chapter—PFLAG San Antonio—launched themselves into the center of opportunity by supporting and participating in the 109th NAACP Convention earlier this month. This annual convention leads a national dialogue on civil rights advocacy through workshops, symposiums, trainings, and related activities. Nearly 8,000 people—including NAACP members, civil rights leaders, local activists, volunteers, and business and political leaders—gather to explore and to share models of advocacy for strengthening communities. PFLAG San Antonio aided the conference with a generous donation, and participated by encouraging the goals of the convention and representing PFLAG’s mission while they were there.

The chapter was especially excited to attend a town hall entitled The State Of LGBTQ People Of Color In America. The discussion was led by a panel of experts that included Earl Fowlkes, president and CEO of Center for Black Equity; David Johns, Executive Director of the LGBT group National Black Justice Coalition; Angelica Ross, actress and founder of Trans Tech Social Enterprises; Marshal R. Bonner, Diversity, Inclusion & Equality Empowerment Speaker and Founder of Help Us Grow Spiritually (HUGS); Kierra Johnson, Deputy Executive Director of the National LGBTQ Task Force; Rev. Irene Monroe; and Amiyah Scott, social media influencer, model and actress. Shijuade Kadree, senior director of Public Policy & Advocacy for the New York City LGBT Community Center, served as moderator.

The panel conversation and subsequent Q&A presented issues facing LGBTQ people of color, especially black trans women, across the country, who face a much higher rate of discrimination and can often times feel ignored in LGBTQ spaces. Attendees were given an opportunity to hear often-times ignored voices and find out how they could help uplift them. The panel was streamed live on the convention website; PFLAG National was happy to help elevate the livestream on social media so a wider audience could listen in. Watch the entire unedited town hall below!

“This [discussion] gave us an opportunity to be right there within one of the communities we need to interact with, support, and learn about,” said Chad Reumann, President of PFLAG San Antonio.

Of particular interest was a conversation about the relationship between typically black religious enviroments and LGBTQ communities and the separation that occurs between them, an issue that is often approached with trepidation, but was given time and space at the convention. Another issue that was discussed was the concept of preparedness vs. reaction. Often times in today's social climate, people are reactionary to issues; they only face them after injustices have occured. However, the panel discussed how instead of being reactionary, society should be prepared and take steps in order to insure the injustice would have never occurred.

The topic of reactionary vs. preparedness seemed to strike a cord with PFLAG attendees, as it is usually not a topic that is widely discussed. Chad says that while he know there is still a lot of work to be done, he is determined to show his support and educate others through his work with PFLAG. One of his major takeaways? “...listen and hear what people [want] to say.”

Christy Hotard Rosenfeld, advocacy chair of PFLAG San Antonio, was also in attendance and, despite only being with PFLAG for a short time, knew how important it was for the chapter to represent. Said Rosenfeld, “If we are going to educate [through PFLAG] we need to understand the entire spectrum of the LGBTQ community.” Both attendees emphasized how important it was to hear what the panel had to say, and to be part of the discussion on white privilege and using it to uplift the voices of people of color. Overall, PFLAG San Antonio leaders felt the convention provided an incredible platform for speakers to share their truths and for attendees to participate by learning and listening.

PFLAG San Antonio really lived the mission of PFLAG, educating themselves in order to help better educate their communities and advocate for all LGBTQ people, inclusive those of diverse identities.

Be sure and watch the video of the town hall here or above, and then check out these great PFLAG Academy Online On Demand sessions and toolkits: