How PFLAG SCV Helped Change the Community: An Interview with Peggy and Jeff Stabile

The founders of PFLAG SCV, Peggy and Jeff Stabile, discuss the organization's history in Santa Clarita, from facing initial challenges to experiencing growing community acceptance, including a thriving Pride Month with events and public support.

July 6, 2024 - June was Pride Month, and on June 30, 2024, the last day of Pride Month, PFLAG held a forum on LGBTQIA+ issues at St. Stephens Episcopal Church. Sage Rafferty sat down with Peggy and Jeff Stabile, the founders of PFLAG SCV, and they talked about how the organization was founded and how many in the community have embraced the LGBTQIA+ Community.

Sage Rafferty: I wanted to get you on to talk, because you are the founders of PFLAG, and if you can tell me a little bit about that story and how that came about.

Peggy Stabile: Well, our son came out to us in 1988. I'm sorry, it was 1986. And for a while, I was very, very... grieving very much about it. It was in the throes of the AIDS epidemic. I was worried about his health. I was worried about the community and the non-acceptance that we knew existed up here. But two years after he came out, there was an incident that happened here at St. Stephen's. A lesbian teacher was coming up to talk with educators about how to have safe schools for their LGBT So there was a picketing of 400 people out on the apron in front of St. Stephen's against this woman's coming. And one of the speakers was a mom who said that her child had gone to schools here for 12 years and never had a gay child in his class. And Jeff and I looked at each other and said, it's time for PFLAG to be up here. We had been going down to LA for two years for their PFLAG. Okay.

Jeff Stabile: So we started it up here, and it was in our house, and it finally got to the point where there were so many people coming that we just couldn't handle it all in the house. We had to look for a place. And came to St. Stephen's and asked a question, and right away said, sure. So that was probably over 30 years ago, because Beef Lake started 35 years ago. Maybe about 30, 32 years ago, we asked here and they said, sure, no problem. It's been here ever since. It's been kind of a struggle because initially we've been living here since 1979. So we've been here 45 years. The community initially was not really accepting of our community. but on our 30th anniversary of PFLAG in this particular hall we had the city council with a proclamation a number of other awards and it was just it was mind-blowing that what we had experienced initially and all of a sudden to have the city here you know acknowledging it, and now they acknowledge every month is Pride, every June is Pride Month, is really quite big.

Sage: Yeah, it seems like there's a lot of change that's happening. There's still some holdouts there in the community, and there's still a long ways to go. So, what do you think about, so St. Stephen's has been really welcoming, right, to PFLAG over the years, and you guys come here?

Peggy: Yes, we actually transferred to St. Stephen's about five years ago. We were members of a Catholic church for all of our lives and we were practicing Catholics, but unfortunately the church seemed to be taking steps backward and we felt we couldn't stay within the church any longer. We did try to talk to priests when they'd say negative comments from the pulpit, and they would listen, but it didn't have any real lasting impact. So we wanted to come to someplace that we knew our child would be welcomed if he chose to come.

Jeff: Because [our son] Jeff actually went to the backs of many churches to read the literature to find something that would say he was accepted. And he said he could find nothing and that's what really kind of turned him off. And it was sad to hear that, that an individual had to look around through all the literature on a church that supposedly is welcoming everybody that comes in as long as you follow these rules and do this and that. He couldn't find anything that would be accepting to him. And that's what took him away from the church.

Sage: Yeah, so when you look at this Pride Month, do you think it's been a very successful Pride Month? I know there are a lot of events with PFLAG. How do you feel about this event and the other events that we've had at PFLAG here this month?

Peggy: I think it's amazing to see how Pride Month is now being celebrated in Santa Clarita. And we thank everybody from PFLAG who have worked so hard and diligently to have this event. exposure and visibility and welcoming from the community as well. It was not until 2019 that we had, actually our anniversary, the 30th anniversary was the first public event we ever had where we invited people and had it in the newspaper. And it was a hundred people showed up. And the following year we had a picnic in the park at Richard Rio and 300 people showed up. So now the multiple activities which have been brought on by the new leadership have been phenomenal.

Jeff: To really experience it, you should be in the crowd when PFLAG comes by during the 4th of July parade. And all the people stand up and cheer, etc. It's amazing to hear. Oh yeah, and the people with the pride flags. The community is very accepting.


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