One month ago today the Bellevue, Washington chapter of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) gathered in Seattle’s Volunteer Park to create two videos.

The idea behind the videos is simple but powerful: behind every lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) person is a group of family and friends who love and support them…and who vote.

There is a fascinating and beautiful story behind how this video came about. After you watch the video, read Lori Brown’s account of what inspired her script and the overall concept, and the surprises she encountered during “the making of”.

This is the first video. Please watch the other video here.

My name is Alex, and I’m gay. 

I’m Alex’s father, and I love my son.

I’m Alex’s mother, and I love my son.

We are Alex’s friends and we love Alex.

To all the politicians who are running in 2012 we want you to know: We are the parents, families and friends of the LGBTQ community and we are listening to what you are saying about those we love.

As you can see, we are not the insignificant few. We are your constituents too.

We are many. We are united. We care.

And we are voting in November.

The Story Behind the “Love, PFLAG” Videos
By Lori Brown, Chair, PFLAG Bellevue, Washington

“To all the politicians who are running in 2012 we want you to know…”

These words burst out of my mind and onto the page in front of me. I was finally ready to put thoughts to paper and it took all of 2 or 3 minutes to write the script for our video. I had been trying to come up with an idea for our next PFLAG chapter project. The amazing part was that my best friend from childhood had sent a generous check to fund this before I even had any idea of what it could be. But looking back, I have realized that perhaps the “Universe” was showing me what it was supposed to be for quite a while, and proceeded to give me what I needed to accomplish it.

Last year we in the Bellevue PFLAG chapter had talked about doing an “It Gets Better” video with transgender families, and so we pursued that for a while. I can only imagine the number of lives that have been changed and saved due to this wonderful program that Dan Savage and Terry Miller created.

As I looked at a lot of the videos to help us decide how to do this, the main theme seemed to be, “You are not alone”. Yet, as I saw Adam Lambert say, “There are a ton of us in this world who are just like you, who believe in you”, I realized how right he was to say this, but like many others, he appeared on camera alone.

Well, it was time to show those who feel alone and bullied that those people who support and believe in them are here right now! They may have gone unnoticed because they look like the people you see every day. They’re walking their dogs, waiting for the bus, or shopping in the grocery store. But they are here just the same! (We are the parents, families and friends of the LGBTQ community and we are listening to what you are saying about those we love.)

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One night I tuned in to one of the presidential debates. Questions were coming from the audience for the candidates to respond. One question was from a gay soldier serving in Iraq who asked, “Do you intend to circumvent the progress that’s been made for gay and lesbian soldiers in the military?”

The audience loudly booed him! Not one of the people on stage objected to the disrespectful behavior of the audience. The candidates didn’t seem to think his concerns were important to address. Unlike other focus groups, this soldier was a member of such a small minority that his life, his concerns, and his vote were insignificant to the crowd and to these candidates. (As you can see, we are NOT the insignificant few. We are your constituents too.)

In January I was invited to go to Olympia to be in the room when Governor Gregoire gave her stunning speech to state her support for the marriage equality bill. While waiting for her to appear, I began talking to the woman next to me. She was a PFLAG mom from Tacoma! We talked about our kids — her daughter and my son — and our commitment to see this bill passed. Sue and I exchanged cards and then walked into the room with people I had met in the past from Pride Foundation, Human Rights Campaign and Equal Rights Washington. What a large coalition we had formed! (We are many. We are united). Sue, her daughter, and her daughter’s wife are in the video.

A few weeks later I was asked to testify before the state House Judiciary Committee for the marriage equality bill. I have watched so many things like this on t.v. and never thought I would have an occasion to be facing a group of politicians to plead for my son’s civil rights. One of the representatives was amazed that all this time was being spent on such a small group of people. After all, this bill would only concern ¼ of 1% of the population of Washington, he claimed. He said we have more important things to grapple with like balancing the budget, improving transportation, etc..

This number was so insulting. I could feel the hair on the back of my neck rise. We know that the closet prevents us from knowing the real number, but ¼ of 1%? I had been helping people tell their personal stories for weeks, and I had discovered something he obviously didn’t know: the importance of securing the civil rights of a loved one transcends all political parties and all religions, and is more important than all other bills put before the legislature. Oh, and it greatly influences one’s vote. (And we are voting in November.)

So these events made it easy to write that script. We were lucky to have found two creative women, Jenny and Michele, aka Interchange Media, who added their own vision to this video. Was this a difficult project? Yes! Thank goodness I had stellar board members and so many other people helping to put this together!

I found that the closet is still an obstacle to overcome, for straights as well as gays. Everyone had to sign the permission-to-film release. Once you did this, you received a hot pink sticker that says “I am loved by PFLAG”. Many people said they would be in the video as the crowd, but didn’t want a close up. I told them I would have a separate sticker for them and Jenny and Michele would honor that. At the end of the shoot I asked my son how many people asked for the second “no close up” sticker. He smiled and said “No one, Mom!”

When it came time to film Alex and his friends, which was supposed to be a little larger group than the family group, Jenny and Michele said, “Ok, we need Alex’s friends here.” Everyone in the crowd came forward and decided to speak in unison! The same thing happened for Rachel.

When we were told to say the phrase ‘the LGBTQ community’, people standing next to me said “What is all that?” It made me smile, because I knew there were people in the crowd who were there simply to stand up for what is right.

One person in the crowd was my husband’s brother Kelly who flew in late Friday night just to stand with us. He and his husband live in Revere, Massachusetts! (We care.)

At the end of the shoot, as the last box was being loaded into the car, we offered a case of bottled water that we had left over to a group of young people in the park. They asked, ”What were you guys doing here?” and we told them we had been shooting a PFLAG video to support the LGBTQ community. “Oh,” one of them said, “too bad we missed that, we would have liked to have been a part of that!” Yes, it is a whole lot larger than ¼ of 1%!

We are all in this together and so I want to share a quote from Goethe that has always helped me when things look a little bleak:

Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. 

This experience was definitely magical for me!

Lori Brown, Chair, PFLAG Bellevue