We Are Metro DC PFLAG
David has been a member of PFLAG Prince William and a student in VA.
Q: How did you first become involved with PFLAG?
A: At my high school, I started a Gay-Straight Alliance. In one of the meetings near the last day of school, the sponsor for my GSA then suggested that I should go to the Prince William PFLAG chapter meetings as something to get involved with the LGBT community outside of school. Observing and participating in our monthly discussions, I have been moved by everyone’s stories. As a result, I reserve every third Tuesday of the month just to come to the meetings.
Q: Why is it so important for you to attend these meetings?
A: I think that my attendance to these meetings is important because we as LGBT youths need a place to assemble as we are at a confusing time transitioning into adulthood where we are trying to figure out who we are. Being a part of such a supportive group reminds us that we are not alone.
Q: How was the process of coming out for you?
A: I came out to my parents when I was 14. They weren’t quite as accepting about my sexuality as I had hoped, but it was not for the reasons that many individuals had. Usually you hear stories about parents who have conservative religions, with negative views of homosexuality. It was different for my parents though. My mother has usually been the one who has been more vocal about my sexuality as opposed to my father. My mother is a religious woman though; we practice Buddhism in my family.
My coming out was part of an even bigger struggle with my parents. The fact is, there’s a bit of a cultural barrier between us. I was born here in the U.S., whereas my parents immigrated here. These differences contributed to some miscommunication and misunderstanding, especially when I was younger. At first, I thought she disapproved of my coming out because of her own personal beliefs on gays. In reality, she just worries about what other people will think of me coming out. How will other people, and society as a whole, treat me? Nowadays, she isn’t as concerned with my sexuality, but more about how I express my gender. She tends to get very angry when I act more effeminate.
When I started going to school at NOVA, I was at the Manassas campus primarily. They don’t have much of an LGBT support system or group in place though. In time, I had to take a few classes over at the Annandale campus. In my first week there, I found this one group, called NOVA Pride Alliance. They basically gave me helpful advice on how to navigate the campus and gave me some support within an LGBT community. It has been really helpful.
Throughout the whole coming out process, I had very supportive friends. If there were ever case where someone was not being supportive, I would just stop talking to that particular individual. For the most part though, coming out has been a positive experience.
Q: Now that marriage equality has been obtained, what do you feel like needs to be one of the next major focuses for the LGBT community?
A: Looking forward, I would say the LGBT community needs to focus on discrimination in the workplace. At a few times in my life when I had to look for a job, I forced myself to research each company’s diversity policy to determine whether my employment would potentially be negatively affected by the discovery that I am gay before applying. Although I currently work in a place that protects people from sexual orientation-based discrimination, there are still many places where it is still legal to fire people based on their sexuality. I feel like that needs to be our next issue.
Q: In relation to LGBT concerns and focuses, what is one topic that you wished more members of society knew of?
A: I really feel like at this point, we have progressed so much in educating people on what being gay or lesbian is like. However, we still need to work on educating people about bisexual or transgender individuals though. That is definitely something we should focus on in the future. People in popular media such as Caitlyn Jenner and Laverne Cox have given people an opportunity to publicly discuss trans issues and trans rights, but people also need to be having good discussions about these issues.