Kim’s Corner: My Volunteer Experience This Summer … and Some Other Stuff

  • by

This is another article in a series written by Spencer Pride Inc. Director Kim Fidler.

August was an extremely busy month for me. With the start of schools across Indiana and the many festivals, it was easy to stay occupied. There are so many opportunities for everyone to become a volunteer and to be involved in making your community one of support and kindness. When you take the opportunity to volunteer your time, you will find that you will make many new friends along the way. That’s certainly been my experience.

with Jerry

I had the opportunity to participate in the Fort Wayne Pride Festival with Jerry Cross. I had initially met Jerry at the Spencer Pride Festival. We did not have the opportunity to talk at that time, as we were all very busy with the festival. Thankfully, I had the entire day to get to know Jerry in Fort Wayne. What a wonderful time that we had! I simply love making new friends.
Serving on the Spencer Pride Board of Directors has allowed me to meet some of the most wonderful people while working to educate the public by creating events which focus on the rural lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, & intersex community in hopes of making Indiana a more welcoming place for all people.

We accept confusion about many issues. Why do some people not accept those who are confused about their sexuality and/or gender? Why do some people not accept those who have absolutely no confusion about being gay? As a straight woman on the Board of Directors of Spencer Pride, I am excited to learn about the differences of people. We tend to be afraid of those things that we do not understand. I like to believe that when people attend Pride events in any town or city, that they can embrace the differences of others. I encourage everyone to attend a Pride event.

I also encourage everyone to familiarize themselves with and become a member of PFLAG. What is PFLAG? It is Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. Our local chapter is based in Spencer and is called White River Valley PFLAG. Learn more about PFLAG by reading the section near the bottom of this article.

I also had the opportunity to attend the OUTfest ‘14 in Lafayette, Indiana with Spencer Pride volunteer Felix McBeath and fellow Spencer Pride Board member, Eric Jones. The theme of OUTfest was, “Love is Love.” There were many vendors and so much great entertainment. I must say, however, that the Spencer Pride Festival is by far the best at being organized, family-friendly, and inviting. I may be just a bit biased! Felix, Eric, and I were able to share information about the Spencer Pride Festival. As with Jerry, I had a great time with Felix and Eric.

I look forward to attending the Bloomington PRIDE Summerfest on September 6th with another group of our great volunteers!

Finally, I want to add that I am looking forward to September because it is the month of Labor Day and a time to celebrate the working men and women in the United States.

I am sad to see summer end. I am sad that I can no longer fashionably wear white or seersucker in 2014.

However, I am happy to take time out to celebrate any group of people that makes the world a better place, whether it be the working men and women of the world, people of Spencer Pride, Prism, or PFLAG, etc.

Nobody can do it alone. We need the entire community and caring adults to make each town and city a more loving place.

What can you do to help? It is simple.

1. Treat everyone as you would like to be treated.

2. Become educated by attending a Pride meeting or event, such as the Spencer Pride Festival, “A Night at the Tivoli” (on October 8th, from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.), or a PFLAG educational event.

3. Visit the Spencer Pride website and share it with others on social media.

4. Take time to find out about the PRISM Youth Group in Bloomington.

Then…take what you have learned to teach out to a child, a young person, or an adult who may need you. The world will be a much better place, and you’ll feel great for having made a positive contribution to it!

More About PFLAG

The idea for PFLAG began in 1972 when Jeanne Manford marched with her son, Morty, in New York’s Christopher Street Liberation Day March. After many gay and lesbian people ran up to Jeanne during the parade and begged her to talk to their parents, she decided to begin a support group. The first formal meeting took place on March 26, 1973 at the Metropolitan-Duane Methodist Church in Greenwich Village (now the Church of the Village). Approximately 20 people attended.

Over the next few years, through word of mouth and community need, similar groups sprang up around the country, offering “safe havens” and mutual support for parents with gay and lesbian children. Following the 1979 National March for Gay and Lesbian Rights, representatives from these groups met for the first time in Washington, DC. By 1980, PFLAG, then known as Parents FLAG, began to distribute information to educational institutions and communities of faith nationwide, establishing itself as a source of information for the general public. When “Dear Abby” mentioned PFLAG in one of her advice columns, more than 7,000 letters requesting information were received by PFLAG. In 1981, members decided to launch a national organization. The first PFLAG office was established in Los Angeles under founding President, Adele Starr.

In 1982, the Federation of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, Inc., then representing approximately 20 groups, was incorporated in California and granted non-profit, tax-exempt status. In 1987, PFLAG relocated to Denver, under President Elinor Lewallen. Also in the 1980s, PFLAG became involved in opposing Anita Bryant’s anti-gay crusade and worked to end the U.S. military’s efforts to discharge lesbians—more than a decade before military issues came to the forefront of the GLBT movement. And by the late 1980s, PFLAG began to have notable success in organizing chapters in rural communities.

In 1990, following a period of significant growth, PFLAG employed an Executive Director, expanded its staff, and moved to Washington, DC. Also in 1990, PFLAG President Paulette Goodman sent a letter to Barbara Bush asking for Mrs. Bush’s support. The first lady’s personal reply stated, “I firmly believe that we cannot tolerate discrimination against any individuals or groups in our country. Such treatment always brings with it pain and perpetuates intolerance.”

In the early 1990s, PFLAG chapters in Massachusetts helped pass the first Safe Schools legislation in the country. In 1993, PFLAG added the word “Families” to the name, and added bisexual people to its mission and work. By the mid-1990s a PFLAG family was responsible for the Department of Education’s ruling that Title 9 also protected gay and lesbian students from harassment based on sexual orientation. PFLAG put the Religious Right on the defensive, when Pat Robertson threatened to sue any station that carried the Project Open Mind advertisements. The resulting media coverage drew national attention to PFLAG’s message linking hate speech with hate crimes and LGBT teen suicide. In 1998, PFLAG added transgender people to its mission.

At the turn of the century, PFLAG began to develop nationally coordinated programs like Cultivating Respect: Safe Schools for All, Straight for Equality, the National Scholarship Program, Bringing the Message Home, and Welcoming Faith Communities. PFLAG has done much to support the LGBTQI Community.

The local PFLAG is White River Valley PFLAG, led by chapter president Cathy Wyatt. Their website is www.WhiteRiverValleyPFLAG.org and you can e-mail Cathy at info@WhiteRiverValleyPFLAG.org.