FFLAG's 25th birthday conference

fflag25yrsAn amazing day on Saturday November 10th. I was pleased to be able to attend FFLAG's 25th birthday conference, Reaching for the Rainbow at the Double Tree Hotel in Manchester, courtesy of my dear friend Mo, who was my carer for the day. I am 81 years old and a wheelchair user and without her help, I would not have been a guest at this wonderful conference.Thank you Mo.

FFLAG is the umbrella organisation for the parents support groups throughout the UK. Manchester Parent's Group is affiliated to FFLAG

The days proceedings started with an introductory speech by Sorrel Atkinson, Chair of trustees FFLAG. She spoke about FFLAG's beginnings and its history, and gave a warm welcome to delegates

Then followed a very emotional address by Lord Michael Cashman, a patron of FFLAG. He spoke passionately about campaigning in the 80's, for the repeal of section 28 and for an equal age consent, which we are proud to have been part of. He also spoke about the importance of the family, and supporting our LGBT children with love and pride, a sentiment which was reiterated throughout the conference.

There were more inspiring speeches, and breakout sessions, and the day concluded with a drinks reception and a celebration dinner.

Fthepioneersor me, a long time member of Manchester Parents Group, a FFLAG committee member and an ardent campaigner for gay rights, it was so emotional to meet up again with colleagues from FFLAG's early days. I am sure they won't mind my saying, we are all now in our 80's, and not quite as active as we used to be, but still as enthusiastic as ever! I am pleased to count them as my friends - Jenny Broughton MBE, founder of Euroflag, retired chair of trustees but still a trustee aged 84, Cath Johnson MBE, founder member of Manchester Parents Group and FFLAG, and founder of The Albert Kennedy Trust, an organisation supporting homeless young LGBT people, Frances Nichol, retired chair of Trustees, long time committee member, and active in the European Parents Movement and, Angie Woods, a retired member of Manchester Parents Group, and retired FFLAG trustee.

We also remembered the inspirational leadership of Joyce Layland, and Brenda Oakes in the early days of FFLAG. Sadly they are no longer with us but they're never forgotten. We are proud that Joyce's legacy lives on as The Gay Youth Centre in Manchester is now The Joyce Layland LGBT Centre.

In the early days we were very much involved in campaigning for gay equality. We lobbied the Lords for the repeal of Section 28, and fought hard for an equal age of consent. We went on marches with our banners, appeared on television and spoke out on radio. We wrote articles and gave presentations and so much more

We feel so proud to have played some part, in the fight to improve life for LGBT people and their families and as FFLAG Pioneers, we were honoured to each receive an award, from the wonderful Lord Michael Cashman.

Much has been achieved over the years but there is still work to be done.The challenge now for FFLAG is to be more inclusive, to also stand up, and to support trans people, their families and friends in their fight for equality.

An amazing day, amazing people, amazing memories.

Love Inga.