Paul Esser, former mayor of Sun Prairie, spoke at a recent SPARC meeting of his efforts to organize a local chapter of PFLAG, a national organization supporting LGBT individuals and their families. While Madison has its own PFLAG chapter, there’s a real need to support our own growing community and the rural areas that surround it with a separate group around which families can connect and find support, as well as resources for education and advocacy.
The group is now looking for members to sit on a local board to help lead this new group, and SPARC calls on its members to consider this invitation and opportunity to provide much-needed support for local LGBT families!
To learn more, please plan to attend a potluck dinner on June 1, 2014 at 5pm at the Sun Prairie United Methodist Church (750 Windsor St, Sun Prairie, WI) and see below for the complete details from Paul Esser:
PFLAG Organizing In Sun Prairie Area
There is an effort underway in the Sun Prairie area to start a PFLAG chapter. Founded in 1972 with the simple act of a mother publicly supporting her gay son, PFLAG is the nation’s largest family and ally organization. Made up of parents, families, friends, and straight allies united with people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT), PFLAG is committed to advancing equality and societal acceptance of LGBT people through its threefold mission of support, education and advocacy. PFLAG now has over 350 chapters and 200,000 members and supporters crossing multiple generations of American families in major urban centers, small cities and rural areas in all 50 states. There is a PFLAG chapter in Madison and they have indicated their support for the Sun Prairie area effort.
The organizing effort has been initiated by the Sun Prairie United Methodist church. But since PFLAG is a nonreligious organization, the new chapter can not be attached to a religious organization nor can it be meeting in a religious facility.
The national PFLAG organization wants to see five to eight people from the community take the lead. One or two of those could come from the Sun Prairie United Methodist Church but the others need to come from the area being served.
The initial group will decide how frequently the chapter meets, location, and meeting format. The Madison chapter, for example, meets one Sunday afternoon a month for two hours with the first hour being devoted to a presentation and the second hour to sharing among the people present. The Madison participants are typically a combination of parents, friends and family members of LGBT people and LGBT community members.
The contact people for the efforts thus far have been Paul & Carol Esser from the Methodist Church. They say the reason for having a Sun Prairie area PFLAG chapter when one already exists in Madison is that Sun Prairie is a suburban community in a rural setting. The needs and interest of LGBT people and their family and friends here is much different then in a highly urbanized college dominated city like Madison. For both youth and adults, the needs are unique so a Sun Prairie area chapter can better reflect and react to those needs. Paul Esser says he’d liked to see the geographic focus of this chapter be all of eastern Dane County and not restricted to just Sun Prairie. This will be one of the decisions that will be addressed by the initial group so it would be good if people from outside of Sun Prairie got involved.
The Sun Prairie United Methodist Church is hosting a pot luck dinner meeting at its building on June 1 at 5 pm to begin serious discussions about the Sun Prairie area PFLAG chapter. After this meeting it is expected that a group of people not connected to the church will take over the efforts of getting the chapter underway and the Methodist church would become simply a supporter of the effort.
All interested people in the community are invited to the June 1 meeting and they do not need to live in the City of Sun Prairie. The meeting will be at 702 North Street, Sun Prairie with the pot luck starting at 5 pm. The Madison chapter people will arrive at 5:45 pm so anyone not wanting to participate in the potluck is welcome to come at that time. For additional information you should contact Paul Esser at 608-837-3907 or firstname.lastname@example.org.