Local Woman Launches Support Group for LGBT Families
Families Matter pioneers group in SOMA.
Families Matter Inc. (FM), a non-profit organization for people with gay or transgender family members, is launching its first family support group in South Orange/Maplewood on Wednesday, October 3.
The group was founded in 2008 by a Maplewood resident and social worker named Wendy (she wishes to remain anonymous as the group is anonymity-based). It was originally a telephone peer mentoring service for people with gay or transgender family members.
She started the organization after the struggle she initially had with her father when she came out as a lesbian.
“The group is all about helping people with gay or transgender family members come to a place of peace about their situation, which in turn will hopefully lead to a more fulfilling relationship with their gay or transgender family member and increased harmony in the family overall,” Wendy said.
She said it was a natural fit to pioneer the group in SOMA, since it is where she lives. “Local people know their own community,” she said.
She said while the organizations shares similarities with PFLAG, the main difference is that FM refrains from advocacy and it is intended solely for family members of gay or transgender people.
Participants are asked to respond to 12 questions that will help guide the discussions. “I felt the get-togethers needed structure; an open free-for-all of sharing week after week felt dangerous and unproductive,” said Wendy.
“FM is not, and cannot be, the place to come with your judgment and preaching. It is the place to bring your story, your compassion, your curiosity, and your belief in the sacredness and preciousness of family.”
A recent discussion on Maplewood Online had some posters objecting to the use of the term “self-help” to describe the group.
“Once I got past my five seconds of defensiveness, I realized these comments were a gift,” said Wendy. She said that while the term was meant to differentiate FM as a peer-based group as opposed to one led by a professional, she decided to change the wording to “peer support group.”
To find out the meeting location or to ask any questions, call 646.827.3622 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.