Families and friends of LGBT people in Kenya, Uganda, India, as well as in the United States and elsewhere soon will be able to find support and share stories with others in similar circumstances under a new international program using telecommunication computer programs such as Skype to connect people across continents. The California-based program, which is now accepting volunteers for training, is run by the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, in cooperation with the group Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG).
Here are excerpts from a description of the program in the San Diego Gay and Lesbian News:
SAN DIEGO – St. Paul’s Foundation is developing a program that will connect loving parents and friends of LGBT people in the U.S. with concerned parents and friends of LGBT people in countries where their children or friends could be arrested for simply being true to themselves.
It is illegal to be gay in 76 countries around the world, and the program will reach out to parents in nations where LGBT youth struggle for understanding and acceptance, including basic human rights.
The Foundation plans to launch a web-based program that will utilize Skype services to connect people across the globe. …
“Clearly there is a need for people who live in countries where LGBT people are stigmatized and criminalized to have conversations with relatives and friends who can share their stories,” said the Rev. Albert Ogle, president of St. Paul’s Foundation. …
“PFLAG has been a lifeline to parents and friends in the USA and can relate to the important stages a family might go through when someone comes out as LGBT,” Ogle said. “Not to have this resource in any other country is a great loss. So this is an experiment, and we are so grateful to PFLAG San Diego and SD Pride for helping us move into uncharted waters.
“The four-week training will introduce prospective volunteers to the work of the Foundation and some principles used over the years by PFLAG. …
Support sessions will be initially set up for connecting local volunteers with parents in Kenya, Uganda and India. The sessions will take place once or twice a month and will last one hour each session.
“We will be using the free computer conferencing programs Skype or FaceTime. With these software programs, our parents and friends can see as well as hear the parents abroad and vice versa. English will be spoken at all times,” Ogle said.
Because of time differences, the sessions will be scheduled in the morning or evening hours, most likely 8 to 9 am or 8 to 9 pm. Eventually participating parents could set up their own schedules once they have established rapport. The web-based sessions will probably begin in late March.
For more information or to volunteer in San Diego, contact Linda Miles at the foundation’s Cathedral office: [email protected]; 615-251-4881 or 858-509-9173.
For more information, read the full article, “St. Paul’s Foundation seeks volunteers for program offering support to parents, friends of LGBT” in the San Diego Gay and Lesbian News.