Following up

Each month Toronto Pflag hosts three public meetings across the city where people can come for help and get advice. These meetings are informal and last 90 minutes. No pre-registration is required. Our website has the locations and times for the meetings.

Each meeting is run by a volunteer facilitator and second volunteer. Usually they are parents who have a child who is LGBTQ2S+. There is water and some cookies. And there are two forms: a sign-in sheet for everyone, and a “First Time” form for newcomers. There are a few books that we loan out. And there is a box of tissues.

After the meeting is over the facilitator goes home with two clipboards, one for each of the forms. Usually there is some follow-up. Some participants want their names to be added to our newsletter, and others want to learn more about volunteering with us.

First-time attendees at our meetings often have emotions that are raw. They are worried about their child’s safety, surprised at how sad they are, determined to get past it. Over the 90 minutes, they hear others share their own stories of ache and worries, and of progress and triumphs. And they hear the facilitators’ advice and encouragement and the encouragement from others. This is what peer support at its best looks like.

A key part though is the follow-up with people after the meeting. I facilitated a meeting last night and sent out emails this morning to check in, pass on links and pdfs. It took about an hour. And then the responses started coming in.

They encouraged me. Thanked me for facilitating warmly. Said they felt better after the meeting and this continued into the next morning. All of them said they would come back.

I remember feeling that way after my first meeting. Later this year we will be offering a training session for people who have come to us for help in the past and are ready to help others. In the meantime, it would be great to see you again. You are always welcome.

Anne Creighton
President, Toronto Pflag

Pride Matters

My daughter came out in 2010 when she was 16 and away at boarding school. We were supportive from the start but not all her classmates were. When she arrived home for the summer she was in a dark place.

We were worried. Nothing we suggested could coax her out of her room for long. I confided my worries to a virtual stranger behind the desk at Toyota. This kind person suggested I tell Amy about Pride and that Pride needed volunteers.

Something about the idea prompted Amy to sign up for every shift. I was so relieved I did something only a straight, cisgender mom would do: I drove her to Pride and dropped her off at the Beer Store on Church early Saturday morning. Do. Not. Drive. To. Pride.

I will admit to a little stalking and what I saw was a gang of LGBTQ2S+ kids with a team leader happily emptying trash cans and setting up bleachers. Amy was grinning from ear to ear.

The next day she went on her own and told me about the shivers she felt walking out of Wellesley station. As she stood for a second just outside the station, a woman stroked Amy’s arm as she passed by. She was in heaven.

Amy had found her people. She would never feel alone again. She knew she was part of a loud, proud, talented and boisterous community. It was a revelation. A turning point.

And it was a turning point for every other kid who anxiously emerged from Wellesley Station that weekend in 2010 and every Pride weekend before and after.

Pride matters.

International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia 2019

Hello and welcome to spring! It’s always great when those first shoots of green appear. For Toronto Pflag it’s when we shift into high gear. Starting with Day of Pink in April our speakers are being kept busy with both schools and workplaces. This hectic pace will be kept up through IDAHTB, then Pride.

Many people don’t even know IDAHTB exists. It doesn’t get much coverage and this year’s flag-raising will closely resemble last year’s flag raising.

But for members of the community phobias and bigotry are a fact of life. It’s an insult they endure because of who they are. Something they did not choose. Something they cannot change.

That’s why we will be there again: defiantly raise our flags and proclaim that it is real and it is wrong.

Join us at City Hall on May 17 at noon at the top of the ramp.

Team at IDAHTB 3 - photo credit City of Toronto.JPG

President’s Message: Day of Pink and Gender Revolution

A huge thank you to everyone who worked so hard to make our screening of Gender Revolution so successful. At least 90 attended.

The volunteers from Runnymede United produced a wonderful meal for everyone. Everyone shared, in an easy informal way, why they had come and what they were facing. It was natural peer support and a beautiful thing to behold.

The National Geographic documentary “Gender Revolution” was followed with a panel that was moderated by volunteer Brenda Lien (who also coordinated the dinner). On the panel were Giselle and Alan Bloch, Noah Sparrow, Stephanie Woolley and Dani Ortega.

It was a magical night.

Day of Pink

We fanned out to speak at several schools that were celebrating Day of Pink. While we were busy with students across the city, Education Minister Lisa Thompson was wearing pink too. So were some of her caucus colleagues.

DayofPinjkTwitterThompson.png

In Question Period, Thompson was asked about Day of Pink and referred to “healthy relationships” several times. When pressed to say “transphobia and homophobia” since that was the theme of Day of Pink, she replied, ”Actually, those words don’t exist in my vocabulary because it’s about the actions that really matter. I’m thinking of my friend Craig; I’m thinking of my friend Frank. I am thinking about my family members whom we embrace. We don’t classify and we don’t use terms to label.”

An uproar ensued, the media pounced and later that day she went on Twitter to walk those words back.

Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia will be back in the spotlight on May 17th at noon at City Hall as we host the city’s dedication to the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. Please join us!

Anne Creighton, President

2018: Looking Back

It’s that time of the year when we reflect on what happened in the past twelve months and wonder what lies ahead. Two major events in the world of Toronto Pflag come to mind:

Confirming that our Scarborough Support Meeting Pilot was a go and officially adding it to our menu of support groups (we now have three monthly meetings)

Flexing our advocacy muscles by joining with Pflag York Region and Pflag Canada/Ontario to conduct the “Have Your Say” survey and submit a paper to the Province’s consultation on Health and Sex Ed. (See wonderful coverage here.)

In 2018 we thanked our volunteers and donors with a fun night at Glad Day Bookstore that included a video featuring various people we have helped. Together they describe what we do and how we help. There was not a dry eye in the bookstore.

Late in the year we spent a considerable amount of time examining our goals for the future and what we need to do to get there. Broadly, our strategic goals fall into three baskets:

  • Broadening our reach (geographically, technically, and socially)

  • Raising our profile in the general (vs LGBTQ2S) community, and

  • Strengthening our internal processes, services and structures

We found renewed motivation and determination to move forward as we continue to offer the services we have since the early 70s - updated for modern times. We invite you to stay informed about our journey to help keep families with LGBTQ members (sometimes siblings come) together through support and education.

All the best to you and your family for 2019 and please stay in touch.

— Anne Creighton, President

We do Workshops!

I write a lot about the presentations we do in schools. They are so inspiring. But did you know we do workplace presentations too? And we have some news.

One of the ways we promote the health and well-being of the LGBTQ2S community is to help make workplaces more accepting. For years, we have been grateful to receive invitations to present at businesses. In addition to spreading the word, it is a good and reliable source of funds to support the work we do for free in schools.

In the last year, we have added two new workshops, so we now have three:

  • LGBTQ2S Basics & How to Be an Ally

  • Gender 101, and

  • Advice for Parents: Raising an LGBTQ child

One of our strategies this year is to raise our profile outside the LGBTQ2S community. Adding new workshops is a great way to do this. It means companies that have seen us before can call us again. We hope that more straight cisgender attendees will attend.

The more people who know what we do, the more people we can help.


FREE Gender Revolution Screening and Panel on March 26th, Runnymede Church at 5:30 pm.

In response to demand in the West End we are screening Gender Revolution again. Gender Revolution is a National Geographic documentary hosted by Katie Couric. It looks at gender from a social, historic and scientific perspective. Don’t miss this opportunity. Bring your kids!

Light dinner at 6 pm and screening afterward, and a panel discussion will finish off the evening.

Editor’s Note: If you aren’t able to come to the event, you can also watch Gender Revolution on YouTube. The show is especially good as an entry point for relatives (particularly older relatives) who are having difficulty accepting a trans family member.

President’s Message --

Joel Kadish, new Toronto Pflag board member

Joel Kadish, new Toronto Pflag board member

Our newest Board Member

At our recent AGM, we welcomed a new Board Member, Joel Kadish. Many of you will have met Joel and his trans son Matt at our support meetings. Joel is a lawyer and quickly became a Toronto Pflag volunteer by offering to help anyone do a legal name change.

At our support meetings, it occurred to Joel that fathers were less likely than mothers to attend. He also noticed that the moms in the group were also more eager to share than the dads. You will recognize by now that this was the genesis of our wildly successful Dad’s Night Out. It would not have happened without Joel. He saw the need, had an idea, sold it, accepted help and now runs it.

We are lucky to have him join our team.

2018 Annual General Meeting

On January 16th, we held our 2018 Annual General Meeting at Kimbourne United Church. Our meeting coincided with the peak of flu season and we received lots of last minute regrets. Thanks to those who made the journey. It was fun to see everyone.

Our finances are stable and healthy. The President took everyone through the highlights of the year which included formally adding Scarborough as a third monthly support meeting, our new strategy and priorities and the Volunteer and Donor Appreciation Event.

We were delighted to welcome a new board member, Joel Kadish, and several of us already on the board received support to continue for another term.

At the meeting of the board following the AGM, Anne Creighton was confirmed as President, Rishi Agarwal as Treasurer and Vera Stambolic as Secretary.