by James Whitely -
SGN Contributing Writer
One of the most common sights at this year's Seattle Pride Parade was the bright neon pink stickers that read 'I'm loved by PFLAG.' They've been around for years, but the story behind them is relatively unknown. They are often simply taken for face value as free stickers to get people in the mood to celebrate Pride.
One may wonder whether there is any significance to the color. Why are they pink? Didn't they used to be orange, and other colors?
Although Parents Friends and Families of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) is a national organization, the idea for the "I'm loved by PFLAG" stickers is a local one.
Jeaneane Hill, a PFLAG member, came up with the idea for the stickers, and along with fellow member Carol Balasa, brought it up to the Bellevue PFLAG board during a meeting. The board approved the idea and the design process began. Once complete, Carol took the design to a local Capitol Hill printer, where the first stickers were produced over 10 years ago.
According to Carol and Mike Balasa, the stickers were first used at the 1996 Pride Parade.
Carol told SGN that PFLAG had about 2,000 neon orange stickers printed up for the 1996 parade. As the PFLAG contingent made their way down Broadway, everyone seemed anxious to get a sticker - so much so that they ran out before they reached the end of the parade route.
"They were quite successful and could be seen around Capitol Hill for weeks after the parade on people's backpacks, books, and jackets," Carol said, adding, "Not to mention the power poles and bus stops."
The tradition continues today. Spokespeople for PFLAG are consistently amazed by how many people ask for the stickers, even when they're tabling at events in places outlike Renton, Bothell, and Issaquah.
PFLAG officials say it is not uncommon for people to ask for extra stickers so they can take them to their workplace or give them out to friends.
"We purchase approximately 60,000 every couple of years," said Barbara Clark-Elliot, president of the Seattle chapter board of directors, "the majority of which are spent [given out] at the Seattle Pride Parade."
"I'm loved by PFLAG" stickers are easy to get and highly visible at the Seattle Pride Parade and various Pride Parades and celebrations across Washington State. Throughout the year, they can be found at all PFLAG events and education panels, PFLAG information tables at the University of Washington, Green River Community College, and the Seattle Community Colleges, as well as the Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival and the Gender Odyssey Conference.
In addition, PFLAG can often be seen showing their support at various rallies and protests. This past May, PFLAG came out to protest at Westlake Center after the California Supreme Court handed down the ruling in favor of Proposition 8 and handed out stickers.
Clark-Elliot sums up how the stickers make her feel: "There is no feeling that matches the pride, pleasure, and safety of being in a crowd of people, the majority of whom are wearing big, neon pink stickers proclaiming, 'I'm loved by PFLAG.'"
PFLAG is a national non-profit with over 200,000 members in the United States. Their mission is to promote the health and wellbeing of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender persons, and to provide opportunity for dialogue about sexual orientation and gender identity, and act to create a society that is healthy and respectful of human diversity.
For more information on Seattle PFLAG go to www.seattle-pflag.org.
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