The Spirit of Aloha Lives!

by Jean Hodges

Have you ever tried to visit a PFLAG chapter when you travel? I recommend it as a fun way to meet people with whom you have something important in common. PFLAG people, in my experience, always lead with open hearts and kind hospitality. That’s what happened for us when Jack and I were recently invited to stay with friends on the island of Kauai in Hawaii. I thought I might attend a PFLAG meeting on the island, so I contacted Noelle, president of a new chapter. Since we just missed their monthly meeting, Jack and I were invited to join a group for dinner.

I expected we might meet at a food court which would have been just fine. Instead, we were invited by Dave Perry, the chapter vice-president, and restaurant manager at the Marriott to eat at his place. I could not have imagined a more amazing setting. A long elegant table set near the beach and next to the pool with twelve exuberant PFLAG members waiting to greet us with leis and hugs. Among them was the first openly gay man to be elected a county councilman, several parents, some young native Hawaiians, the head of the island’s YWCA and a teacher or two. Not only was the food, all four courses(!), wonderful, but we shared stories to get acquainted, laughed together and talked about the sense of disconnect with other PFLAG chapters when you live on an island remote from the mainland.

I experienced the real meaning of “aloha”. It is more than “hello” or “goodbye”. It is an offering of unconditional love that they gave me. In turn, they were grateful that I wanted to meet and be with them. I enjoyed this as the highlight of our time in Kauai.

Building bonds of friendship is surely one of the great benefits of PFLAG activism. I can’t promise you an elegant dinner, but you will meet some of the nicest people there are. It’s easy to go to to look up a chapter in a town you plan to visit.

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