Support group meetings are the cornerstone of the PFLAG organization. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, gender expansive, non-binary and queer (LGBTQ+) individuals, and parents, families and friends of those who identify as LGBTQ+ are invited to attend PFLAG meetings.
All are welcome to express needs, fears, questions and offer support in a compassionate and caring environment. We are the extended family of the LGBTQ+ community in the South Bay. If you or someone you care about is LGBTQ+ we invite you to join us!
WHEN: First Tuesday of every month from 7-9 pm
WHERE: Meetings will be held in the Fireside Room at Manhattan Beach Community Church located at 303 South Peck Avenue, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
“Our PFLAG meetings will focus on listening and supporting people wherever they are on their journey to acceptance and advocacy in an environment where strict confidentiality is observed,” - Cindy Byrne, Co-Founder and Board Member
The mission of the PFLAG Manhattan Beach / South Bay chapter is to build a culture of inclusiveness, engagement, and equality for the LGBTQ+/gender expansive and allies community within the South Bay by:
- Supporting the LGBTQ+ community, families and allies through a monthly support group meeting in which all are welcome to express needs, fears and questions in a compassionate and caring environment;
- Educating PFLAG families and the broader community about the facts, needs and rights of the LGBTQ+ community by providing resources, referrals, materials and public presentations; and
- Advocating within our local communities for programs and policies that provide for the needs and ensure the equal rights of our local LGBTQ+ population.
“We know that the support and acceptance of families and communities is the most important factor in the emotional wellbeing of LGBTQ+/gender non-conforming youth and whatever we do to help families and individuals along their paths will literally save lives.” - Linda K. Reeves, LMFT, Co-Founder and Board Member
“When you are part of a community it normalizes it and you realize you can have a wonderful, supportive, loving family under any circumstances.”
tina sarafa | Co-Founder
The Manhattan Beach/South Bay chapter of PFLAG was formed on the belief that every member of the LGBTQ+ community and their families should have easy access to support and services and that our culture in the South Bay should be one that celebrates the unique identity of every individual.
When residents of the South Bay come out as LGBTQ+, they are often forced to travel to Hollywood or beyond to find doctors, therapists, faith communities, and groups to receive care, education and support. Without a local, visible network, and an embracing community, LGBTQ youth and families can feel isolated, fearful and confused. Kids, in particular, need to know that they are not alone – that there are others in our community questioning their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
When Cindy’s son came out as transgender in 2016, she was lucky to meet up with four other moms with LGBTQ+ kids. They called themselves the “Mama Bears” and they formed an informal support group through which they shared information, experiences, advice and loving support. It made all the difference in the world to have others that could listen with compassion and without judgment. Along with fellow Mama Bear, Tina Sarafa, the group was determined that everyone should be able to find that kind of acceptance and support in our local community.
The creation and launch of any meaningful enterprise takes passion, patience and persistence. The movement to form the Manhattan Beach / South Bay PFLAG chapter came together after Tina and Cindy connected with Linda Reeves, the mother of a gay son and an LGBTQ+-affirmative psychotherapist who also provides LGBTQ+ diversity training to school districts. Linda had investigated launching a PFLAG chapter in 2014, but didn’t yet have the critical mass to make it happen. Once the three came together, they had the necessary skills, connections and vision to begin working with PFLAG national to bring a local chapter to the South Bay.
As the South Bay chapter put out the word to expand the leadership team, a network of professionals, agencies and organizations working to serve and ensure the rights of the LGBTQ+ community in the South Bay began to emerge. Pastor Mark Pettis offered the Manhattan Beach Community Church, which embraces an LGBTQ+-inclusive welcome statement and mission, as a potential meeting place and introduced the team to soon-to-be Board member and Treasurer, Frank Hanzel. The Beach Cities Health District also offered space while initiating its Adolescent Mental Health Task Force, of which Linda was a member. A cadre of local therapists specializing in the needs of LGBTQ+ people and their families emerged, indicating their recognition of the need in the community and their dedication to providing critical support. Future Board members Michael McAtee and Carol Kole came from that group. Alphonzo Hicks, who has worked tirelessly to bring together the LGBTQ+ community through his leadership at the South Bay LGBT Center near El Camino College, also agreed to join the Board.
Original Mama Bear, Wendy Warren, deeply committed to providing families the support they need, signed on to the Board to run the monthly support group meetings. Under the mentorship of the 45-year-old Los Angeles PFLAG chapter and its President, Mariette Sawchuck, the emerging South Bay chapter trained 12 members of the community to serve as support group facilitators. Among the facilitators were several members of LGBTQ+-affirming ministries at local Catholic churches.
The Manhattan Beach/South Bay PFLAG chapter was officially incorporated on August 14, 2018, and will hold its first monthly support group meeting on October 2, 2018 from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. Meetings will continue thereafter the first Tuesday of every month. Meetings will be held in the Fireside Room at the Manhattan Beach Community Church located at 303 S. Peck Ave., Manhattan Beach, CA 90266.