allyship, support for LGBTQ parents, alienation, grass-roots, advocacy, PFLAG, activism
Austen: I’m interested in – you were talking about, um, sort of time in your kids’ lives where as a parent you weren’t, um, accepted by other parents, you know, kids got pulled from your kid’s birthday party. At that kind of time, where would you go for allyship or support.
Garrett: Back then? Nowhere.
Garrett: No. Back then, and also realizing the time period, when I came out I honestly believed I was the only gay guy in Oshawa. [Laughter]. Yeah, I honestly believed I was the only gay guy in Oshawa. I had never met a gay person. I had certainly never met a queer family. And so back then there – even though there was a gay bar here, I didn’t know that, right? And it had been here about ten years prior to that, but I didn’t know that, because it was all this sub – underground culture that you really had to work to find. Um, so back then, there really wasn’t any. And so you just pulled in tighter as a family. Right? This is the safe space, the door is closed, you know. Your two dads, Kevin and myself, just doing our thing watching movies. And as soon as you leave, things change. You know what I mean? And so back then, you had to retreat, and you were just protecting your home.
Austen: And so what was the progression like from that to eventually being able to find other people, and I mean now you’re doing all this fantastic work, so there’s been a shift.
Garrett: Right. Um, to be honest, and that’s – the notion of grass roots change – I was part of that shift. Right? The need needed me to happen. So I was at the very first meeting of AIDS committee here in Durham, creation of that. I was at the very first meeting and was part of the creation of the PFLAG group, here in Durham. Now PFLAG Durham is probably one of the largest in the country. Huge. Our PFLAG here is massive. Um, and they keep growing. Uh, I was part of – I created through, with PFLAG, a summer camp for queer youth as well. So for me, I’ve always been an activist, it just became out of necessity, right? There’s nothing here.
Tara: You created the allyship that you needed.
Garrett: Yes. Yes.
Tara: And – and for others.
Garrett: Right. And so I, that’s kind of what I do. I – I’m a firm believer in grassroots. I start it, I give it enough, you know, um, structure, and then I tend to leave and find a new project. So I ran the PFLAG camp for two years. I think they’re in their seventh or eighth year now, um, but I haven’t been involved in the past few years. Get in there, stir it up, set up the structure, and then move on.