LGBT, ally community gets local support

Alex Seidler, Staff Reporter

An organization centered for allies and LGBT has formed its own chapter for the Charleston community.

Parents, families and friends of lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender, or PFLAG are an off-campus organization welcoming those who identify with LGBT and their allies.

Donna Hudson, president of the Charleston chapter of PFLAG, said she wanted an ally group close to Eastern’s campus so more people could come together and support each other.

“I wanted to broaden to the community members,” Hudson said. “I wanted to give both allies and LGBT people a place to show support and talk about their struggles.”

Hudson said she feels strongly about being an ally because in order to make change there needs to be people from both sides helping each other.

“My son has been out for 10 years and I’m aware of the discrimination in larger society,” Hudson said. “There is great need for allies for greater atmosphere of equality and by doing this we create a sense of unity.”

The three main goals for the organization are to support, educate and advocate. The group will provide a supportive environment where people can talk about themselves, how they feel about certain topics while avoiding judgment, Hudson Said.

Hudson said the group would allow people to educate others on topics they are not familiar with, like the daily struggles for LGBT people and even their religious commitments.

“I think it’s majorly important that we create a sense of acceptance regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity,” Hudson said.

Melissa Borah, a senior political science major, said PFLAG is important not just for education and activism, but also a sense of support and friendship.

“It’s encouraging knowing that everyone there is on your side and working hard to create a more accepting, loving community,” Borah said. “You feel that immediate sense of belonging.”

Hudson said PFLAG is needed in Charleston because although acceptance and equality are growing, many LGBT people still experience discrimination, heterosexist attitudes and sometimes hatred.

“We want people to know they are welcome to come and share their stories and concerns and receive confidential support,” Hudson said.

PFLAG has participated in the March for Equality last September and the next event will be a panel at 6:30 p.m. Thursday.

Jo Stauder, the president of Pride, said the difference between Pride and PFLAG is the former focuses more on issues affecting the gender and or sexual minority community directly and the ladder is mostly on allies.

“Although both Pride and PFLAG are open to both students and community members, PLFAG is probably a more comfortable place for community members,” Stauder said. “Pride is probably a more comfortable place for students.”

The group meets every third Thursday of the month at 6:30 p.m. at 719 Monroe Ave in Charleston.


Alex Seidler can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]