After facing the possibility of disbanding, the Fayetteville chapter of a national LGBTQ organization announced it had a new board of directors in time for Pride Month celebrations.
Last month, the Fayetteville chapter of PFLAG was looking high and low for people to take over as the previous council was set to step down. One of the main services offered by PFLAG is to help parents of young LGBTQ people support their children.
The national organization PFLAG was founded in 1973. The Fayetteville chapter was started in 2017 by local parents of LGBTQ children, according to former chapter president Devra Thomas.
On June 2, the new board of directors for the Fayetteville chapter of PFLAG was elected to their new positions, according to Thomas.
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The new board is made up of President Derrick Montgomery, Vice President Aaron Brooks and Treasurer Audra Ferguson.
Montgomery said he felt the need to get involved with PFLAG after experiencing the feeling of abandonment upon his release.
“As a young man who comes out as gay and comes from a black church background, there was an experience of abandonment with my family and my church,” he said. “I didn’t have the support to have these conversations and my parents didn’t even have the options whether they wanted to or not.”
Montgomery has a professional background in social work and a few years ago opened a seminary called United Ministries in Christ. It’s these things and his personal background as an adoptive father of three children that Montgomery says prepared him for the role.
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Working with members of the LGBTQ community is also nothing new for Ferguson. She also worked with the Fayetteville chapter of Free Mom Hugs, a nonprofit that celebrates the LGBTQ community.
Ferguson could not be reached for comment.
Even though Brooks moved to Fayetteville in December, he said he thought it was important to get involved with PFLAG when he found out about the opening.
“Given that (PFLAG) has been around the longest and was in this business to support parents who have LGBT youth, I couldn’t say no,” he said. “I am truly honored to be part of this organization and hopefully changing lives.”
Brooks also attends Montgomery Church and serves as its trustee. Both Brooks and Montgomery said they also joined PFLAG due to concerns about increasing homelessness among LGBTQ youth.
“It caught my attention, and I know how important it is to have (PFLAG) here,” Montgomery said.
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Brooks said he finds PFLAG important because at one point in his life he was one of those homeless LGBTQ teenagers.
“I’m a great example of what it’s like to not have a PFLAG; to be abandoned, forgotten and also pushed aside because of my sexuality,” he said. “My parents, out of frustration and not understanding that my sexuality at that time wasn’t a choice, they really didn’t have the support, the understanding that a lot of areas that have LGBT youth have today and I was on the street.”
According to Polaris, an organization that fights to end human trafficking, almost 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ. Because of this, Brooks said he wants LGBTQ youth to know that PFLAG is here to help.
“We are here to change hearts, change minds because in this world we live in it is cold and cruel to anyone who is LGBTQ, African American, Hispanic, things of that nature,” he said. declared.
As the new chapter president, Montgomery said the organization plans to increase community connections.
“Our mission is to expand the reach of our community and other social avenues and platforms, whether virtually or in person, and to build strong interconnecting relationships or networking relationships…so people know that we are here,” he said.
Editor Akira Kyles can be reached at [email protected]