After over 20 years of service to PFLAG SF, Kenda Horst is taking the much deserved step down from leadership of the organization. It’s impossible to portray just how thankful we are to have her for the long time we did, so here are her own words to show what PFLAG means to her.
Thank you PFLAG San Francisco!
PFLAG San Francisco has given me a circle of friends willing to talk all things queer. Over these years, as society has been volleying back and forth, this group provides us with a safe place to talk, weep, laugh, cry, and rejoice—sometimes all at once!
As I step back from leadership, I am not completely going away and still intend to learn more from the general support group each and every month. The energy and delight of seeing people come to the PFLAG booth at Pride, Castro, or Folsom still gives me great pleasure each year. And knowing that there are people working every day, in so many ways, to make this world a better place gives me hope as I gaze into the future.
So, as I step down after more than twenty years of working on the Board, I want to thank this chapter for all the wisdom and joy I have discovered and received. Each person I’ve talked with and each hug I’ve shared—for all this and so much more, I say “Thank you!” And certainly, PFLAG will always be part of me.
PFLAG San Francisco helped me heal and is why I wanted to help others. It was on December 26, 1997, while visiting my parents in central Illinois, a time for me to be with my family, relax and have some “downtime” when I came out to my parents. You see, I was planning a wedding ceremony for September 1998 and wanted to give them nine months to wrap their heads around who the true Kenda is and to work out their fears and misconceptions. This conversation did not go very well. And no, they did not attend my wedding ceremony the following fall.
Mom and I used to talk a lot, almost daily. This communication stopped. Then in February of 1999, I flew back to central Illinois so that I could speak with my parents in person. I also wanted to share what had been going on with me. Sad to say, my parents had not changed their minds about the LGBTQIA community or me. During the visit, my mother kept trying to read scripture to me. And she also spoke with my brothers, asking them to talk with me. To say the least, this trip did not go well for any of us.
Returning to San Francisco feeling upset and unable to see how I was going to have a relationship with my parents, my partner and I had noticed the PFLAG booth at Pride over the years. So we decided to go ahead and look up the phone number. Nervously, I called and left a voice message and received a call back from an older woman with a very kind voice who provided details of an upcoming meeting.
My first PFLAG SF meeting was in March 1999, and to this date, I have only missed a handful of monthly support meetings. And in June 1999, my partner and I tabled our first Pride event and have been at every pride since until 2019.
Over the years, I have been deeply moved by the people I have met became friends with and some consider family. People who generously share their own family stories. These people and so many others have given me the hope and strength to stay in a relationship with my parents, even when it’s two steps forward and one step back. PFLAG has taught me to set boundaries and recognize each of us is on our own journey. Your journey is not mine to take and my journey is not yours.
It has been over twenty years since my involvement with PFLAG and happy to report, my relationship with my parents is much better. Sure, there are differences. But now when I receive a Christmas card, it is to both me and my partner. My partner even gets birthday cards and presents. This is a very big move forward.
For this and so much more, PFLAG San Francisco, I love you and thank you.
Former President and Treasurer of PFLAG San Francisco Board – and current member at large ☺