Who are Bristol FFLAG?

Who we are

FFLAG Bristol is a support group, serving the West, for families and friends of lesbians, gays, bisexual and trans adults and children based in Bristol. It provides an opportunity for people to explore issues and share experiences, as well as their fears, in a safe place.

For More Information

Please contact Sue (01454) 898644 or Janet (01454) 528805 or email us on hello@bristol.fflag.org.uk

All about us

We are mainly parents of LGBT+ youngsters ourselves, not trained counsellors and we don’t propose to give out advice because every person’s situation is unique.  But we do offer a listening ear in a safe confidential environment and are happy to share our own experiences with other parents and family members who are concerned about their loved one’s sexuality or gender identity.

You might have been wondering about their sexuality or gender identity for a while, or the announcement might have come as a bolt out of the blue. Perhaps they have yet to ‘come out’ but somehow you know that they need your support.

Most parents assume that their children will grow up to be heterosexual (straight). They won’t have thought that one day they would hear the words ‘Mum. Dad. I’ve got something to tell you. I’m gay!’

We know that each family situation is different but most parents find it helpful to know how other parents have coped in a similar situation. It is often helpful to know that your emotions and concerns are shared by other parents who have an LGBT+ child.

Some parents want to know why this is happening. There are endless theories about sexual orientation and gender identity.  The fact is though that your child is identifying as a person that is different and you want the very best for them.  You are probably coping with some complex emotions of your own as well as wanting to understand what is going on for your child.

Sue, one of the parents who set up the group, got involved after hearing from her lesbian daughter, who attended the Freedom Youth group for lesbians and gays, that some of the teenagers had been rejected by their parents. “I was horrified to hear what other kids were going through – I still am. I know there are times when you don’t like the way your children behave, but you always love them. There are 16-year-olds being thrown out of their homes because of their sexuality or gender identity. I can’t understand that,” says Sue.

The group is open to parents, relatives, friends and couples – where one partner comes out as LGBT+. “It’s a self-help group. None of us are counsellors, we’re here to talk about our own experiences and encourage one another. On a first visit some parents don’t talk at all, a few have cried, but many have said as they left, ‘I’m glad I came and I’m coming again’. When they return they start to chip in and once they start we then sit back and let them talk.”

When Do We Meet & What Do We Offer?

FFLAG Bristol currently meets as a support group once a calendar month in Bristol. Meetings are held at The Park Centre Daventry Rd, Bristol BS4 1DQ.  If you would like to join us at any time call Sue on 01454 898644 or Janet on 01454 528805 or email us on hello@bristol.fflag.org.uk and we will give you details of the next meeting.

We offer:

  • A friendly welcome and listening wears at our monthly group meetings which are conducted in a safe place and are highly confidential.
  • A lending library of books and literature covering a wide topic of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans issues.
  • Information about other lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans outside agencies.

Because of our socialisation, our upbringing, we find it very difficult to cope when our beloved daughter, son, partner or parent tells us they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. Suddenly the person we have pinned so many hopes and ambitions on feels like a stranger.

The first reaction is generally shock and disbelief. We may feel fear and sadness for our loved one, and for ourselves. We can feel anger, revulsion and dismay.

We look for someone to blame; we even look for cures. Often we feel a sense of loss; the person whom we thought we knew so well seems to have changed. Pain, tears, sleepless nights might accompany the impact of the news, with an additional feeling of alienation and isolation.

So how do parents cope?

Parents can cope best by talking about fears, frustrations, anger and grief in a safe environment where no-one will judge them, no-one will say they are being homophobic because they are upset. Where they can cry if they wish, in the safe knowledge that everyone there will understand.

By listening and seeing those who are managing to cope, or those who now understand and accept difference and individuality, new parents can realise that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. On the other hand, listening to the new parents will ensure that the older hands never forget how traumatic it may have been in the beginning.

Remember

Remember that your child’s world has been turned upside down as well as yours. Just think how much courage it took him or her to tell you. Remember that by telling you it means that she or he trusts you. They love you. It is a compliment. Remember that they will feel better now because they no longer have to live a lie and pretend.

Remember that throughout life things change, nothing stays the same. Change helps us to develop and grow into more understanding tolerant, caring and compassionate human beings. We cannot stop our children developing and being independent. We cannot choose their friends, their sexuality or their gender identity.

Remember that just because their sexual preference is different from yours doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Your child may have spent years in isolation before they came out to you. Think how lonely and frightened they must have been.

Remember the most important thing is to continue to love and protect your children. Educate yourselves about homosexuality and gender identity, because up to this point you may have seen some negative representations in the media etc. Now learn to separate the myths and stereotypes from the reality.

Remember that we are all individuals and need to be accepted as such, but it all takes time; don’t be too hard on yourself or your child.

Remember the help-lines and support groups are there to help you through this time of adjustment, learning and acceptance, because if you don’t accept your children, you will lose them.

FFLAG Bristol holds regular monthly group and committee meetings. The management committee attend conferences, seminars, training days, gives talks to other agencies and have been interviewed by local press and television. The management committee are on various local and national lesbian, gay and bisexual committees in their role as advisors.

FFLAG,

Registered Charity in the UK

Number: 1079918

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