HOUSTON VOICE/ JUNE 21. 1996 11
PFLAG-There For Us
Peggy was shocked. She called her son one
night to talk, and the phone was answered
by a friend. When she asked who this was,
his reply, "Honey, I'm his boyfriend."
She then hung up the phone, not identifying herself. As Peggy sat down, she realized all her fears came true. Her son was a
homosexual. All his friends were homosexual as well. She wondered what kind of
lifestyle he was living.
She decided to visit him and find out. Her
son, named Alex, met her at the airport.
Along with him was a good friend, not the
one who answered the phone. His friend
was very clean cut and attractive. What we
might call a pretty boy. On the way to his
apartment, Peggy didn't say much. Now
thai she was seeing her son in a different
light, she didn't know what to say. At the
apartment, Alex knew something was
wrong. After his friends left, he sat down
with his mom and asked what was wrong.
She replied, "I know you're gay."
Alex wasn't ready for such a blunt
announcement. His reply to his mother
was "And?" Well, said Peggy, "Are you
alright? Do you have AIDS? Is there anything I need to know?" Alex decided to be
honest about everything. He explained
to her that he was HIV-positive bul didn't
yet have AIDS. He showed her the many
medications he was taking. He tried to
explain to her what the medicines were
for. She said she would like to speak with
his doctor, and they called him. He was
glad to speak with Peggy.
They had a very informative visit.
Although Peggy felt better knowing
Alex's condition, she was still very sad.
She knew one day she would lose her son.
This was always her biggest fear, that her
son would die before she did. She also had
this anger towards the gay community for
the spread of this disease. She knew this
feeling was irrational, but she couldn't
help it. Where was the person who infected
Alex? Is he still alive? Was Alex the only
one, or were there more. And what aboul
Alex, was he infecting people? She had
It was then she got a call. The woman was
asked to call Peggy by Alex's doctor. She
was a member of Parents and Friends of
Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) and also had
a gay son. This group helps family members cope when their children (or sibling) comes out to them. She offered to meet
with Peggy and talk with her and maybe try
to answer any questions she might have.
Peggy replied she had a lot of questions
that she needed answered.
They met for lunch. The woman brought
two other mothers with her. One was in
PFLAG and the other was a mother whose
son died from AIDS. They explained that
the Gay community is trying to stop the
spread of AIDS, and about the many education programs that were designed to
inform people how to avoid getting it.
They talked with her about safe sex. They
explained to her that AIDS was spreading
because people, both gay and straight
were ignoring safe sex warnings. Most
had no idea what it meant to become
infected with HIV or foolishly thought
that they were not at risk.
They also explained how important the
support of parents is for gay and lesbian
children, especially those that are living with AIDS. That support sometimes
made all the difference in the health of
their child. That the secrets of remaining
in the closet might be too stressful on Iheir
child's immune system. So Peggy made a
determination to tell her son that he had
her total support. Peggy also decided to
join PFLAG, and let the world know how
proud she was of her son, and how brave she
thought he was.
Peggy asked Alex to join her on the sofa.
She told him what she was going to do. Alex
was so proud of his mother's commitment, he started to cry. She held him in her
arms, and told him he would never have to
worry aboul a place to stay or someone to
take care of him if he needed it. She said she
would never tolerate someone speaking bad about gays. And she said her life was
much better since she knew the truth about
At the first PFLAG meeting, Peggy was
very pleased with the turn out. She has
made many new friends. Although her trip
was coming to an end, she planned to join
the PFLAG group in her city. That group
wasn't very large, but it was a very strong
chapter. Peggy knew she could add a lot to
Alex died several months ago. He did
have to go home, where he was taken well
care of by his mother and her friends. His
last words were "Thank you mother. I love
you." But all is not lost for Peggy. Her participation in PFLAG has kept her going.
Her pride in her son kept his memory warm
in her heart. She gained something important, even though she suffered such a terrible loss. Her participation in
PFLAG and the support group at her
church helped her deal with Alex's death.
She thanked God for his blessings.
The funeral was very solemn. But (he nice
thing was that PFLAG was there. They were
lined against the wall and several of the
members were holding the PFLAG banner, in respect and memory of Alex. Peggy
was the only speaker. She said she learned
more from Alex about life than she ever
knew possible. His courage and
strength, his determination to live a
quality life, and his ability to accept his
illness gave her strength to accept it as
well. She thanked Alex for his life and love.
She then walked quietly towards the back
of the room to leave, and her PFLAG friends
draped the banner around her as she left.
She was grateful she wasn't alone that
PFLAG is a wonderful group. They are
very strong and supportive of our community. If you have a parent (or other
family member) that supports you, get
them involved in this fine group. They can
be especially helpful if you are just coming out to your family. PFLAG is the greatest ally of our community. When you see
them in the Pride parade this year, please
thank them for their support. They love us
very much. Not just their own children but
all of us. Enough to face the horror of AIDS
with us, enough to go to Washington to
lobby for our rights, enough to learn and
grow, not only to accept us, but to be there
for us through it all. Anyone who wants to
extol "Family Values" should look at
PFLAG, because time after time they prove
by example what we all know—Love makes
a family, nothing more and nothing less.
The Houston Chapter of PFLAG can be
reached at 713/867-9020.
Glen Webber is a former employee of
Continental Airlines and a person living with AIDS in Houston
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