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May 26, 2024

Farewell PFLAG Northern Rivers – it’s been real

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Lismore area librarian Lucy Kinsley, second left, with Pflaggers Gordon Balfour Haynes, Greg Bryant, Richard and Robyn Grzegrzulka and Carmel Bennett. They delivered dozens of books to the Lismore library. Photo Tree Faerie

Gordon Balfour Haynes

After 21 years supporting families and friends of queer people, PFLAG-nr has called it quits.

The social and support group PFLAG Northern Rivers (PFLAG-nr) was founded in 1998 by Robyn and Richard Grzegrzulka.

Its aim was to provide educational, social, and library resources support, as well as appropriate referrals to specialist agencies or groups.

For some years, the group was active, with speaking engagements and community-education events.

Its resources were utilised by numerous parents, families, and friends of LGBTIQA+ folk who requested information or support in various forms.

In more recent years, requests for support have dwindled to insignificant, almost zero – this despite a renewed effort at promoting the group’s existence via both traditional and new media.

Over its last two years PFLAG-nr received a total of three support requests, all of which could have been readily met by numerous other local groups or agencies.

This experience parallels that of most other Australian chapters of the international PFLAG family; at its peak PFLAG-AU had 27 chapters; now only five remain active.

Organisers say, ‘We hope that this drop in demand is a sign of greater acceptance of LGBTIQA+ people by their families and social groups; however, perhaps it also tells another tale.

‘Research indicates that increasingly people are finding their personal needs met in new ways, mostly online.

Thank to supporters

‘Regardless of what traditional operators might think of the quality of such virtual support compared to a real-world face-to-face encounter is beside the point: if it works for people today, who are we to condemn it?

‘PFLAG-nr thanks all those individuals, institutions, and businesses who have supported and encouraged PFLAG Northern Rivers over its 21 years and, we like to think, helped us improve our diverse communities’ acceptance and quality of life’.

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