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The Little Rock chapter of a national advocacy group that helps the friends and parents of gays and lesbians come to grips with their loved one's homosexuality is getting a new lease on life.

Randi Romo, one of the backers of the new Central Arkansas chapter of Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, or PFLAG, said the group would stress diversity, advocacy for gay and lesbian issues, and would be a safe place for gays and lesbians and their families to talk about their experiences.

“Some parents are really good with where  their kids are and they want to help other families that are struggling,” Romo said. “[PFLAG is] a place to get information, to have camaraderie, to understand you're not there by yourself.”

Romo, the director of Little Rock's Center for Artistic Revolution (CAR), which often advocates for gay and lesbian rights, said that a previous Little Rock PFLAG chapter “kinda just silently folded up into the night” a few years back. The new PFLAG chapter will be administrated through and housed with CAR and their gay youth outreach program Diverse Youth for Social Change (DYSC). Romo said the new PFLAG chapter is intended to reflect the whole community, and will be staffed and administrated by Latino, white and African-American volunteers. “We're really trying hard to show the diversities of the faces in the community,” she said. “This is everybody's family.”

PFLAG was founded in New York in 1973. The group claims to have over 200,000 members worldwide. There is one other chapter in Arkansas, based in Fayetteville.

The new Central Arkansas chapter will have monthly meetings and get-togethers, speakers, films and classes. A large part of the group's mission, Romo said, will also be to advocate for gay and lesbian rights. When parents of gays and lesbians finally accept their children, they often turn to activism.

“Once a parent ‘gets it' and sees that all the legal entities are actively discriminating against their child, they get kind of pissed off about that,” Romo said. “They want to fight for the rights of their children to have the best quality of life and access to the same rights as everybody else.”

The revamped Central Arkansas chapter of PFLAG will hold its first event, a meet-and-greet and mixer, at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 18 at First Presbyterian Church, 800 Scott St. in Little Rock. For more information, call Randi Romo at 244-9690.

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