New PFLAG Geneva/Tri-Cities chapter opens

Friends, family of LGBTQ welcome at monthly support meetings

Officers of the new  PFLAG Geneva/Tri-Cities chapter gathered at their first meeting in December. The group was officially established as a nonprofit in January. Back row Jen (left),  Stephanie; front row Chapter President Elaine McClure (left) and Angela.

A new chapter of PFLAG Geneva/Tri-Cities has formed to promote equality and support for the local LGBTQ+ community.

PFLAG – formerly known as Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays – has been just PFLAG since 2014.

Chapter president Elaine McClure of Campton Hills said it is a national human rights organization with more than 400 chapters.

“I have a trans daughter who came out three years ago,” McClure said. “And one of the first organizations somebody directed us to for support was PFLAG. It’s a safe space where, as a parent, your child has come out to you and you don’t know where to go, you don’t know what questions to ask.”

McClure said the area already has a local group called Belong Fox Valley but the national group provides additional support and education.

“Just having a community for the LGBTQ+ folks, caregivers, parents, loved ones, anybody who wants to learn and wants support and just to find community,” McClure said. “For me personally, that’s why I think it’s important in this community.”

Belong Fox Valley actually was the catalyst for the four members of the new chapter. Belong Fox Valley asked through social media if anyone was interested in starting a PFLAG chapter.

The four were strangers until they began setting up the chapter, which opened in January with nonprofit status. They set up a safe space for PFLAG families to gather.

The group also is focused on education and countering misinformation, McClure said.

“People don’t choose to be gay or trans. That is who they are,” McClure said. “There’s over 500+ bills out there – not in Illinois – but across the United States against the LGBTQ community. Illinois is a very safe space, but there’s still a lot of hate and bigotry here. So let’s combat that with love and education.”

The three other members of the local chapter are Jen from Aurora, who said he is interested in transitioning from male to female; Stephanie of Sugar Grove, who has a transgender child; and Angela of Geneva, who has a nonbinary child – one who does not identify as exclusively male or female.

They requested their last names not be published out of privacy and safety concerns.

“There’s over 500-plus bills out there – not in Illinois – but across the United States against the LGBTQ community.”

—  Elaine McClure, PFLAG Geneva/Tri-Cities president

Jen, who has white hair and whiskers, came into the transgender world late in life.

“Things are a lot different today than when I graduated high school in 1976,” Jen said. “More people are coming out now than ever before. But when you come out, it’s not an easy road any way you cut it. That’s one of the reasons I’m taking things slowly and I have no timeline [to transition].”

Stephanie’s transgender child came out a couple of years ago.

Stephanie said the PFLAG chapter forms a supportive community “where people are going through similar experiences and being able to just have that safe space to talk and be able to learn more, help other families that are coming into our group.”

“We’re going through everything together, just not at the same time,” Stephanie said.

Angela said – as its name clearly states – PFLAG also is for straight people who want to build relationships within the LGBTQ+ community.

“Besides the ability to come to a community and build relationships with similar experiences in LGBTQ ... I have navigated LGBTQ, autism and disability rights all on my own,” Angela said. “I was getting to the point where I wanted to do something more.”

LGBTQ+ along with people diagnosed with autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, attention deficit disorder or any mental health diagnosis “do not have a seat at the table,” Angela said.

“A lot of times they stay away from groups or there’s not a place for them to come together,” Angela said. “That’s what motivated me. I have a 20-year-old nonbinary child who is saying, ‘Where’s my group?’ As a mom, you want to be the first to set up a child to be successful.”

Angela said no matter how difficult society or politics is, she and other mothers like her are committed to supporting their children.

“Nothing gets in the way of me loving my child,” Angela said.

Meeting information

Geneva Tri-Cities PFLAG meetings are at 6:30 p.m. the second Monday of every month for those 18 and older. The location is provided by contacting the group via email at