SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - In the early 1970s a woman upset about the beating of her gay activist son co-founded PFLAG. Back then it stood for Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, now it stands for more.
In the wake of the Pulse Nightclub murders, members held an interfaith panel discussion at the First United Methodist Church in Santa Barbara on Monday night.
Isla Vista Pastor Frank Schaefer moderated the discussion. The father of three gay children said as long as there are religions that condone discrimination there are going to be events like the one that just happened in Orlando.
Julia Hamilton of the Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara said it is important to be welcoming. She told a transgender audience member that people should feel comfortable wearing whatever they want to church.
Rev. Allysa De Wolf shared her experience in Sandy Hook where she was ordained. She moved to Santa Barbara to be part of the First Congregation Church. Over the weekend she went to the gay pride parade in Los Angeles with her wife.
She said it is important to let members of the LGBTQ community know there are churches where they are welcome. She said news of the victims and survivors in Orlando reignited the trauma she felt in Sandy Hook.
Panelists said what they can do now is support, educate and accelerate the push to embrace the gay community.
All of them agreed that it is nice to see the outpouring of love and support and open dialogue in the aftermath of the Florida hate crime and terrorism.
People new to the group called the discussion eye opening and informative.
PFLAG meetS at 7pm the second Monday of every month at the First United Methodist Church at 305 E. Anapamu St.
Organizers of the panel said they will be honoring the victims and survivors at upcoming vigils and an interfaith pride celebration called Love. Period on Sunday August 28.
For more information go to www.community.pflag.org/santabarbara
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