WASHINGTON, DC—PFLAGers everywhere today mourn the death of former PFLAG National Board Member Rev. Dr. Gilbert H. Caldwell. A retired United Methodist Church minister and true foot soldier in the fight for civil rights, Rev. Caldwell participated in the 1963 March on Washington, the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer, the 1965 Selma to Montgomery March, the March in Boston protesting public school segregation, and the 1968 Poor People's Campaign.
His work within the civil rights movement inspired him to focus on issues beyond race--including LGBTQ+ equality. In 2000, he, with others, organized the RMN Extension ministry United Methodists of Color for a Fully Inclusive Church (UMOC), an organization committed to the full inclusion of LGBT people in every aspect of church and society. Rev. Caldwell then joined the PFLAG National Board in 2009. Rev. Caldwell continued his work to change the United Methodist Church’s position on LGBTQ+ inclusion, and as a UMC minister, officiated his first same-sex wedding on the Sunday before Martin Luther King Day in 2014.
Of his work with PFLAG, Rev. Caldwell said:
“One of the joys of my long justice journey is to have been invited to be a member of the Board of Directors of PFLAG National. The inspiration I get from working alongside the loved ones of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people fuels my advocate soul, and their commitment to the well-being of all LGBTQ individuals—be it their children, family members, friends, or co-workers—is an example that all of us should follow.”
Former PFLAG National Board President Jean Hodges said:
“I considered Rev. Caldwell a real role model for how to do the work within faith communities, and within communities of color. As a Methodist--and the mom of a gay man--I was moved and inspired by all that he did to bring more allyship and engagement within the UMC. I will miss my dear friend, and PFLAGers everywhere have lost a real champion for inclusion.”
PFLAG’s thoughts are with Rev. Caldwell’s family and all who knew and loved him.
PFLAG is the first and largest organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) people, their parents and families, and allies. With over 400 chapters and 200,000 members and supporters crossing multiple generations of families in major urban centers, small cities, and rural areas across America, PFLAG is committed to creating a world where diversity is celebrated and all people are respected, valued, and affirmed. To learn more, visit pflag.org, like us on Facebook (/pflag), or follow us on Twitter (@pflag) or Instagram.