December officially marked the end of Don Shockley’s three year term as co-chair for the local Nashville chapter of PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), but the group is filled with confidence as they continue to grow in their outreach.

“At our State conference a couple of years ago it was stated that the role of leaders is to develop leaders. I think they are right about that, and I am pulling back from the position while things are still going so well. It is hard for a small organization to keep its edge once its leadership has been in place too long,” states Shockley. 

Although another co-chair has not yet been announced, the leadership approach has already begun to evolve. Several new faces have joined what they call "the leadership team" of eight people and  H.G. Stovall will continue as co-chair/chair until the transition is complete.

PFLAG proudly boasts that their three major goals are support, education and advocacy, and the Nashville chapter feels they are meeting those goals head on.  

“We have been involved in all three of the PFLAG goals, but we feel, and our experience confirms, that given our location in the South, we must keep trying to find ways to reach the families and individuals that really need help that the churches will not provide. As an ordained minister myself I continue to be appalled by the fact that the churches are the primary source of the wounds we are trying to heal. The thing that means more to me than anything else is that our group in Nashville has learned how to listen and to recognize that the support and information we provide change people's lives for the better,” continued Shockley.  

The LGBT community makes up about half of the participants in a typical Nashville meeting. This mix gives parents who are new to the group a chance to meet and have conversation with gay and lesbian persons from a variety of backgrounds and careers. The goal is to help them realize that their sons or daughters are not going to forfeit their futures by coming out.   

To find out more about the local Nashville Chapter of PFLAG, you can attend their next meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 16, in the Laskey Library at the Scarritt Bennett Center, 1008 19th Avenue South, from 7 to 8:30 p.m., or check out their Web site at

This article has been republished from Out & About Nashville, and was part of a series of first-person pieces written by the late Bobbi Williams.

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