(Lander, WY) – A local chapter of PFLAG has been established in Lander, joining other chapters across the State of Wyoming and the Nation. They will hold their first meeting at 6:30 pm on July 31 at Purple Thistle Wellness – 153 N 4th, Suite B.
“Founded in 1973, PFLAG is the first and largest organization dedicated to supporting, educating, and advocating for LGBTQ+ people and their families,” according to their website.
The Lander PFLAG chapter became official in June 2023, and their first event was participating in the Lander Pioneer Days 4th of July Parade. There was some confusion during the parade, according to Lander PFLAG members, with parade goers thinking they were Wind River Pride, a local organization dedicated to hosting events that create an inclusive and safe space for LGBTQIA2S+ community members. This year, Wind River Pride opted out of participating in the parade.
“We were there as allies to show the community that we all take our children’s safety very seriously,” explained Sarah Reilley, Lander PFLAG treasurer. “And we were there as the adults to say, ‘Hey, the LGBTQIA2S+ community is completely welcome in Lander even though a few loud people say otherwise.’ And we wanted the community to know that when Wind River Pride feels like they need to step back for their safety and their mental well-being, we’re going to be here to pick up that support piece. That’s our job as allies. So we just really wanted to make sure that the community knows that Wind River Pride did step back. They kept themselves safe this year, and it was a good thing that they did. We were harassed along the parade route as well. We were glad to be there to take that hit so that Wind River Pride didn’t have to this year. That’s one of the things that we really want to work against in the future. We want the community to understand the LGBTQ community better so that they don’t have that fear and they don’t feel like they need to harass people anymore.”
The Lander PFLAG chapter is open to locals ages 18 and up, and they plan to have monthly meetings similar to support groups.
“(The meetings are) a way to come and talk with other people who are going through similar experiences and with a variety of backgrounds and to discuss what life is like and how we can help each other,” shared Jenny Young, Lander PFLAG president. “And then we want to have events that we put on more geared towards education, I think, than anything because that seems to be the biggest hindrance to understanding and compassion is just that education point. And getting that through to as many people as are open to it.”
Lander PFLAG has the educational resources available to them from the already established national chapter and plans to also connect with the Wyoming chapters to help them navigate this first year.
Both Young and Reilley provided their thoughts on the goals of the chapter:
“In my opinion, the biggest goal with the group is to let everyone know that we’re here as a resource,” Young noted. “We are here for information and education and support for anybody who is part of or is directly or indirectly connected to anybody who is LGBTQIA2S+.”
“I think making sure that we are making connections for people so that they know whatever it is that they’re feeling about their situation is normal to experience and help them figure out how to navigate in a way that is safe and respectful for them and their loved one,” Reilley shared.