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American flag, rainbow flag, PFLAG?

Welcome to the latest edition of Lavender Rhino where we talk about ways to advance the gay agenda, er, I'm sorry- I mean ways to help support our LGBTQ+ brothers, sisters, and everyone in between, right here in Russellville.



But first, a brief story. Starting something new is never a piece of cake. But if there's cake in the vicinity there's a good chance you'll have a better time. Though my desire to have an LGBTQ+ advocacy organization kicked off in May of 2015 with the March for Equality (pictured above), the Lavender Rhino is still in its infancy. It all started out as a Facebook page, Pope County for Equality; then, once marriage equality became law, we changed our name to Voices of the Valley. Voices of the Valley then fizzled out over time which led to me deleting the page so it would stop taunting me for not posting enough.


Now that I've joined with Cody Adams, who started a Facebook page in hopes of having an LGBTQ+ presence in the area, that became - Lavender Rhino. What Lavender Rhino has are ideas, goals, and loads of good intentions. What it doesn't have is someone with the capacity to mold it into a new, from-the-ground-up, helpful resource that the community needs. Me. I'm that someone. Instead of feeling deflated and letting it fizzle out as just another well-intentioned idea, I came to a shocking realization. The proverbial [rainbow] wheel does not have to be reinvented.

*PFLAG enters the chat* There are organizations out there that have spent years doing the work - why not partner with them?! So, I've reached out to see how to start a local PFLAG chapter. There are so many amazing organizations out there, but I really felt a strong pull to PFLAG in particular. Our community has so many non-LGBTQ+ friends, family, business owners, teachers, students, etc who want to help make this community more inclusive, and that's an area where PFLAG shines. Now, who is PFLAG?



PFLAG ​is the nation's first and largest organization dedicated to supporting, educating, and advocating for LGBTQ+ people and those who love them.

Though PFLAG originally stood for Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, they have since dropped the acronym status and become one single word that cannot be broken apart which embraces their legacy of inclusion. They just celebrated their 50th anniversary, since starting in 1973. Brian Bond, Executive Director of PFLAG National said, “We knew we had to celebrate 50 by unequivocally reaffirming PFLAG as a dynamic and unifying force that will not back down to threats against LGBTQ+ people and our loved ones. PFLAG’s new look asserts that this iconic organization will not stop until every LGBTQ+ person has the freedom to thrive—and we’ll do it by leading with love.”


Sounds like just the thing to enhance the Russellville community. There is a process to becoming a PFLAG chapter and we are at the beginning stages, but the outlook is hopeful and the desire to bring such a valuable resource to the area is unwavering.

Stay tuned for more updates on that and other local LGBTQ+ issues right here on The Offbeat Times! And if you are interested in getting involved or being involved in the formation of the Russellville PFLAG chapter please email lavenderrhinos@gmail.com! And don't forget to support us on patreon.com/theoffbeattimes!





-Emily

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