The Santa Clarita Valley chapter for national organization PFLAG — Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays — is celebrating its 30 year anniversary and Pride ‘18 on June 23. A celebration will be held in Spurling Hall of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church from 1-4 p.m.
The free celebration will host a screening of “Back on Board,” which is about LGBTQ community member and two-time Olympic gold medalist Greg Louganis. Louganis himself will also be present at the event. A reception with light refreshments will follow.
The organization PFLAG raises awareness and educate the community about gay children. It was started in the 1980s when co-founder Peggy Stabile wanted to help her son, Jeff Stabile Jr.
Peggy said she had difficulty initially, when her son came out to her in 1986.
Her first words to him were, “‘I love you, but I need you to help me understand,'” she said recalling the story.
The son she knew didn’t fit into the stereotype that society was portraying, she said. Soon thereafter, she and her husband founded PFLAG because they realized perceptions needed to be changed.
Many Santa Clarita residents didn’t believe there were gay people in their community, she recalled.
Although Jeff was student body president at Hart High School and homecoming king, he felt alone and like he was the only kid in the SCV who was gay, she said.
“The climate back then was hostile and misinformed,” she said. “Many people publicly would state there were no homosexuals in Santa Clarita. My son didn’t know what kind of future he could have because he felt so different from everybody else.”
Ever since, PFLAG has spoken to counselors, psychology classes and helped educators in the SCV learn about advocacy for gay children.
“Now we’re a more accepting community as a whole,” Stabile said of progress. “Our schools are working toward educating others and providing a safe environment.”
Former PFLAG board member Andrew Taban said PFLAG helps parents who are afraid of the unknown, not because their kids are gay, but because they’re afraid of what will happen to their kids if society disapproves of their sexual orientation.
“If you’re different, you have a target on your back,” he said. “And i think some parents still to this day don’t know what to do.”