CHICAGO, USA — It’s a Group For fifty years, PFLAG has provided a safe space for loved ones and allies of LGBTQ+ people. A local teenager informed us that PFLAG was essential in helping their parents accept them as they are. The Hemmer family, in the western suburb of Lombard, are among many parents and allies in the LGBTQ+ community who support the PFLAG.
“My parents being involved in PFLAG is that extra step,” said Ray Hemmer, who does not identify as a woman or a man. When I was 13 and had my first serious crush on a girl, I realized I was a lesbian. And then I was thinking, “Oh wow! It must make me gay. I told all my friends and family members about it because I was so thrilled. Ray became non-binary after turning fifteen.
“I distinctly remember the words, ‘Okay, you’re non-binary,'” Ray thought back to the first time they came out. This was uncharted territory for everyone involved, including myself, so I can see why there were initial concerns. “No, that’s not what you are; you’re just confused,” however, was never answered. Ray stressed the importance of encouragement from his parents. “Very, very important; they are my world,” Ray pointed out.
Their parents’ membership of PFLAG has contributed to their unwavering support. “I basically see it as a support group for the other side of the coin,” Ray added. There are a plethora of resources available for the LGBTQ community. But friends also need help. Dan Hemmer, Rays’ father and member of the PFLAG executive committee, explained, “It was really about wanting to advocate and wanting to learn more so that we could educate, teach and support others. We weren’t completely in the dark about this topic, so releasing them as non-binary was important to us. Again, it’s a fantastic place to learn new skills and expand your mind.