It offers assistance to young people feeling confused about their sexual orientation & identity.
A majority of Frederick County residents have been accepting of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community, but more needs to be done. That’s according to Kris Fair, the chairman of the board of the Frederick Center, which fights for equal rights for the LGBTQ community.
Even though Frederick County is considered politically and culturally conservative, Fair says a majority of local voters supported the referendum in 2012 allowing same-sex marriages. “LBTGQ issues span across all political boundaries. They cross all socioeconomic statuses, all races, all religions. And that groundswell of support reflected itself in that vote,” he says.
Along with that, Mayor Randy McClement issued a proclamation declaring June Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Pride month; and a large crowd showed up for the candlelight vigil last month to remember the victims of the mass shooting at a gay night club in Orlando, Florida.
While many local churches were represented at the candlelight vigil, not all were. In fact, there are some houses of worship which do not support gays and lesbians, citing a quote in the Bible which condemns it. “And we will continue to fight that fight and have that conversation and have that talk. ‘Well, what is it that makes you think that somehow an LGBTQ individual is a lesser citizens, deserving of your love and prayer, but not deserving of your support,” says Fair.
He notes that Pope Francis recently said the Catholic Church should apologize to gays and lesbians.
Fair says the Frederick Center also works with young people who may be confused about their sexual orientation or their sexual identity. He says a youth group meets every Wednesday at the Grace United Church of Christ in Frederick to help these young men and women sort out these issues. A licensed social worker is on hand to talk with them.
But when a girl tells her parents that she’s a lesbian and a boy tells his family that he’s gay, or if a child doesn’t identify with the gender they were born with, it can be bombshell in many families. Fair urges these parents to guard their response. “If you negatively react or if you blow up and yell at that person or tell them ‘oh, this is just a phase,’ it’s going to reverberate in your relationship with that individual for years to come. I promise you that,” he says.
If you don’t understand what your child is going through, he says measure your response. “You can say to them ‘I’m working through this with you. I love you unconditionally, and I’m here to support you. I need to work on myself as well in this process.’ And then be prepared to do the work,” says Fair.
He says one resource parents can use is an organization called PFLAG, Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.
Fair says he was 19 when he came out of closet and announced he was gay.
The mass shooting at the Pulse night club in Orlando, Florida in June shattered a feeling of security in the LGBTQ community, says Fair. He says a gay night club was where members of LGBTQ citizens could go and be themselves in a safe in environment. “That shooter that when in there that day stole that, and robbed the entire community of that freedom and that feeling of safety while in those doors. And that is irreparable for years to come,” says Fair.
But, Fair says, it galvanized the LGBTQ community and straight community into action. “And we are saying, and many people are standing up and saying ‘enough is enough with the homophobia; enough is enough with the hate speech; enough is enough with the hate crimes in our society. We’re going to stop it and we’re going to stop it now,. and we’re going to stop it together,'” he says.
The Frederick Center can be found on line at www.thefrederickcenter.org. It has also has a Facebook page.