Decades later, chapters exist in more than 400 communities, from Alaska to Alabama. Outside Atlanta, the Georgia region includes chapters in Johns Creek, Marietta, Macon, Peachtree City and Athens.
Over time, Voutos said the group’s mission has stretched to include educating the community on LGBT issues. In turn, she said the community is educating them on their needs – which increasingly center on transgender and queer youth.
Kennesaw parents with trans daughter grateful
Families like the Slipakoffs, in Kennesaw, typify the new face of LGBT families.
Eight years ago, Jennifer Slipakoff was looking forward to welcoming a son. Already the mother of one rough and tumble boy, she readied her nursery with traditional boys décor, and prepared for a house bustling with PFLAG now has chapters in more than 400 communities across the US. (File photo) trucks and play gun fights.
Her transgender daughter Allie, now a third grader, had other plans.
Slipakoff said she first noticed her daughter gravitating to traditionally feminine things around 18 months – a doll here, female-themed pajamas there. When her little one started turning capes into skirts and pillowcases into flowing hair, Slipakoff concluded she was going to have a gay son.
Then one day, Slipakoff said Allie feigned sleepiness and slipped into the girl’s pajamas her open-minded parents had bought for her. Moments later, Slipakoff said her toddler was wide awake – but unwilling to take off the pajamas.
“I realized that she had just put those pajamas on because they were girl’s clothes,” said Slipakoff, who, in a lightbulb moment, realized she was seeing more than just a gay youth.
Over the next few years, her child transitioned into full-time girls clothing, female pronouns and a name that suited her better than her birth name. By the time Allie talked about being a mom, not a parent, Slipakoff had started looking for families like hers.
She joined PFLAG Atlanta two years ago. It has since become an invaluable place to meet people who understand the journey of raising a young transwoman.
“For me,” she said, “it’s just a place where people get it.”
For their work helping create a safe space for countless LGBT families and supporters, PFLAG Atlanta will be honored with a grand marshal slot in the Atlanta Pride parade on Oct. 9. The parade will feature a dozen such grand marshals nominated for ongoing contributions to the LGBT community. Other grand marshals include Simone Bell, southern regional director for Lambda Legal, and Out On Film.
By being in the parade, Voutos said the group hopes to build toward its future by echoing the past and that bold day so many years ago.
“It’s the opportunity for us to say, ‘Come and talk to us,’” Voutos said.