Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays
Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (FFLAG) is a voluntary organisation and registered charity in the United Kingdom which offers support to parents and their lesbian/gay/bisexual and transgender children. They have a national telephone helpline (0845 652 0311) as well as several parent support groups and are a support group recognised by the UK Government. FFLAG also works outside the UK with other LGBT family support organisations particularly in Europe.
The organisation has its roots in 1965 when Rose Robertson (1916 - 2011), a former World War II SOE agent set up Parents Enquiry, inspired by events she had seen whilst working with the resistance in occupied France. Rose was herself heterosexual, her maiden name being Laimbeer, Rose had married George Robertson in 1954, he died in 1984. Rose launched Britain’s first helpline to assist, inform and support parents and their lesbian, gay and bisexual sons and daughters three years before the Sexual Offences Act 1967 decriminalised homosexuality in England and Wales in a period of severe Homophobia, when LGBT+ people regularly experienced prejudice, harassment and oppression. Rose used her own home and money to help young LGBT+ people in need.
Rose Robertson was receiving over 100 phone calls and letters a week from highly distressed gay teenagers, many of whom had self harmed. Rose often mediated between parents mostly successfully, who had rejected their own sons and daughters due to sexuality. Despite being verbally abused, physically attacked, targeted with extreme homophobia and Right-wing extremists, arson attacks on her home, excrement through the letterbox, abusive phone calls and hate mail she did not give up and persevered until her death in helping young LGBT+ people.
Obituaries to Rose appeared in The Telegraph, The Guardian and The Pink Paper news papers and at the Peter Tatchell Foundation. The Manchester Parents Group had produced a video introduced by Sir Ian McKellen in 1990 in which Rose Robertson appeared, one of the last surviving VHS Video copies, although in worn condition was transferred by a volunteer to Mpeg video in 1999 for preservation.
The helpline that Rose created ran for three decades and Rose's work inspired parents in various parts of the country to set up their own groups and helplines. Among the first were those in Manchester, Leicester and Scotland. By 1993 it was felt that there was a need for a national organisation to act as an umbrella group to support and co-ordinate the local groups and to respond to the increasing request for information from the media, social services and other organisations and individuals.
'Friends and Families of Lesbians and Gays' (FFLAG) was the successor to Parents Enquiry set up in 1993, and became a registered charity in 2000 with aims were to support parents and their lesbian, gay and bisexual daughters and sons and to campaign for human and civil rights. FFLAG is a totally voluntary organisation; it has no statutory funding and is totally dependent on donations.
The equal rights legislation FFLAG has campaigned for include:
- The repeal of section 28
- Equalisation of the age of consent
- Lifting the ban on gays and lesbians in the armed forces
- Adoption rights for same sex couples
- Civil partnership
- Same sex marriage
In 2000 FFLAG joined with parent's organisations in Italy, France, Belgium, Germany and Spain to set up EuroFFLAG, now followed by the European Network of Parents of LGBTQI children.
FFLAG's vision: is a world free from ignorance and prejudice about sexuality and gender identity in which LGBT+ people are valued and respected
To support families with LGBT+ members
- To be the national umbrella organisation for affiliated groups supporting families with LGBT+ members
- To support and develop a network of local family support groups
- To provide direct individual support where local family support groups are not involved
- To educate and advocate for a world in line with their vision
- To work with other organisations to achieve their vision
- To ensure that they have the necessary resources to achieve their mission
FFLAG's website provides information about helpful resources including their downloadable booklets. The booklet 'A Guide For Family & Friends' looks at issues and emotions that parents and families may face when their LGB loved one comes out. Another booklet 'How Do I Tell My Parents?' considers ways of telling parents as well as discussing the issues that often worry lesbian, gay and bisexual people when they want to talk to their family about their sexuality. The booklets, originally written by Rose Robertson, were rewritten by FFLAG Parents in 2012 and updated again in 2017. The booklets contain quotes and experiences from parents and LGB young people.
FFLAG has found that many of the enquiries currently received are from parents of trans youngsters. They have decided to extend their remit to include support for family and friends of trans people.
On March 31st, 2018, coinciding with Trans Visibility Day, FFLAG launched its new booklet 'A Guide For Family & Friends - information for family and friends with a transgender member'.
There are plans for a second new booklet 'How Do I Tell My Parents? - I'm transgender' to be available later this year.
President of the organisation is Jenny Broughton, Hugh Fell is Chair of Trustee's alongside fellow Trustee's Sorrel Atkinson, Janet Kent, Hilary Beynon and Sarah Furley.
Long standing Patrons of the organisation are Baron Cashman of Limehouse, Angela Mason CBE, Sir Ian McKellen CH CBE, Baroness Massey of Darwen, Professor Ian Rivers, Deidre Sanders and Peter Tatchell.
- "Register Of Charities". Charity Commission. Charity Commission. Retrieved 30 September 2019.
- Charity Commission. Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, registered charity no. 1079918.
- "Directgov". Useful contacts. DirectGov. Archived from the original on 8 January 2009. Retrieved 7 April 2012.
- "FFLAG Official web site". FFLAG. FFLAG. Retrieved 29 September 2019.
- "Rose Robertson". The Telegraph. The Telegrpah. Retrieved 29 September 2019.
- Thatchell, Peter (2011). "Obituary – Rose Robertson: 1916-2011". Peter Tatchell remembers Rose Robertson, the wartime SOE agent and founder of Britain’s first helpline for parents and their gay children. Pink Paper. The Pink News. Retrieved 29 September 2019.
- Tatchell, Peter. "Obituary – Rose Robertson: 1916-2011". Peter Tatchell Foundation. Peter Thatchell. Retrieved 29 September 2019.
- Tatchell, Peter. "Rose Robertson obituary A former spy, she set up one of the first gay and lesbian helplines". The Guardian. The Guardian. Retrieved 29 September 2019.
- "Parents Talking, MPG". Angelfire. MPG. Retrieved 29 September 2019.
- Tatchell, Peter. "Rose Robertson - FFLAG President (28 October 1916 - 10 August 2011)". Obituary. www.fflag.org.uk. Archived from the original on 12 March 2012. Retrieved 7 April 2012.