“It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.” Maya Angelou
This quote by Maya Angelou and her poem, “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings”, were the genesis of my speech when I was invited to participate in West Hill United Church’s service to celebrate their 4th Anniversary of becoming an Affirming Congregation. Toronto PFLAG has no religious affiliation, our volunteers and those who come to us for support are from all faiths; however, we gladly accept invitations to attend and speak at a variety of events that help promote diversity and align with the PFLAG mission.
Looking Up with Joy! I was overwhelmed by my feelings when I rose to speak and stood under the rainbow of ribbons which stretched the full length of the chancel. Although the picture doesn’t show the great magnitude of these ribbons, I hope you can sense the effect. I am thankful to all at West Hill for their welcome to me and families like ours who are assured of a warm welcome, acceptance and support without question.
Looking Back with Gratitude – 2013
Schools: Maya Angelou’s quote also reminds us of the importance of having our diversity workshops and presentations in our schools, both at the high school and elementary grade levels, and we are very proud of the schools who invited us during 2013 to speak with students from grade 2 to grade 12. We are looking forward to a busy 2014 with more school presentations planned.
Posters: Our poster campaign of 2013 was incredibly successful and we have to thank our sponsor partners BMO and ProudFM for joining us in this venture. If your local school would like more of these posters, please have them contact firstname.lastname@example.org and we will provide the posters free of charge.
Looking at Who We Are: At the end of the year we do look back at where we have been and who helped us get there, and I personally want to thank Toronto PFLAG’s Board Members who take time from their lives to generously give of themselves to our community and ensure the safe-keeping of our organisation, so a shout out to Anne, Bryn, Gary, Jill, Marla, Michael and Vera, and a special mention to our e-newsletter editor Jim for keeping us on deadline and keeping us in touch with our supporters.
On behalf of the Board I also want to thank the volunteers who aid and support us with their gifts of time, energy and expertise, which allow us to continue our good works in the G.T.A.
All of us at Toronto PFLAG are appreciative of the monetary donations we receive and with no salaries being paid we are able to use donations to help Toronto’s LGBTQ community, their families and our local schools, organisations and businesses through our outreach, education and support work. Whether you gave a small amount or a large one in 2013, we appreciated your donation and thank you for helping us help others!
Looking Forward in Hope: – 2014
It seemed many times in 2013 that on the road to equality we took 2 steps forward and 1 step back, as news from around the world in turn elated and then saddened us. In Australia we cheered as same-sex marriage was legalised, then within days the law was overturned. The Supreme Court in India reversed a ruling and reinstated same-sex relationships as unnatural offences punishable by a jail term of up to 10 years. While we celebrated the legalisation of same-sex marriage in 16 countries including Brazil, Argentina and most of western Europe, plus 16 American states; we were shocked when Uganda and Russia passed laws against gays and those who support them, with the threat of life sentences in some cases.
I read a recent article (thank you G. Dyer) that said “Africa is the most anti-gay continent where 37 out of 52 African countries have laws that criminalize homosexual acts,” and “homosexuality is still illegal in 83 countries.” Obviously our work is not yet done, so we do what we do, where and when we can, hoping the respect, love and support we spread here will find its way abroad and help make positive change happen for families like ours around the world.
Allow me to paraphrase a song from Toys (1992) …
“If I cannot bring you comfort, Then at least I bring you hope
For nothing is more precious, Than the time we have and so
We all must learn from small misfortune, Count the blessings that are real
Let the bells ring out for peace, At the closing of the year”
With hugs and the hope you are all home and warm,