Levi Miller, from left, treasurer of PFLAG Woodstock, is pictured with Matt Buraker, representative of AIDS Response Effort; Susie Wilburn, president of PFLAG Woodstock, Virginia; and Shaun Conners, of PFLAG National in Washington, D.C., at a summer potluck event in W.O. Riley Park in Woodstock. The local chapter started in May and serves to support and educate about the LGBTQ community.

Woodstock has a new chapter of PFLAG and is welcoming anyone interested in being an ally or learning about the LGBTQ community.

PFLAG is a nonprofit organization that advocates for, educates about and supports members of the LGBTQ community.

The local chapter started in May, said organizer Susie Wilburn.

“What happened is we were feeling like the [local] community was at an uprise against the LGBTQ community,” she said.

Hearing about challenges students were having in the public school system and community incidents that she didn’t feel area town council members were positively addressing, Wilburn said she was inspired to do something.

“Kids are bullied in school; they’re harassed,” she said.

It speaks to the level of unacceptance around the community, she said.

“I have learned a lot as a straight female 64-year-old with no gay children what it’s like to be part of this community,” Wilburn said.

“We are a chapter where we can distill some of those myths. [There are] statements being made on the religious side of it that these people are doomed to hell; it’s an abomination. Because we are such a Christian community, that seems to be the bigger message that’s getting out. [But] these are human beings just like everyone else … just like any heterosexual.”

In many cases, she said, being part of the LGBTQ community isn’t about sex or physical attraction.

“Within this community, many say that sex is not a deciding factor at all,” she said.

Wilburn decided to form the chapter after seeing a Facebook post by area resident Levi Miller, when he told his coming out story on a group page.

“I commented about challenges in our own county,” she recalled.

After they became Facebook friends and chatted some more through Messenger, she said she looked into starting a local chapter of PFLAG.

Wilburn is president of the chapter. Miller has joined as secretary, and the treasurer is Steve Shaffer.

“We need this in our community,” Wilburn said.

The national organization, which started in 1973 and used to stand for Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, is not aiming to be controversial, she said.

“We can’t be religious, we can’t be political; our tagline is that we advocate, we support and we educate,” Wilburn said. “We are a helping chapter.”

Still, it’s tough to be the only chapter in the region with the next closest in D.C., she said.

“There used to be one in Winchester and that one disbanded several years ago,” Wilburn said. “I’ve had folks reach out to me from as far away as Fauquier County because they have seen similar problems there.”

The website,, lists chapters in Charlottesville as well as the areas of Richmond, Blacksburg, Williamsburg, Norfolk and Morgantown, West Virginia.

PFLAG Woodstock has held four support meetings so far, and Wilburn said that her contacts in Fauquier are thinking of starting a chapter too.

The chapter welcomes anyone who wants to learn more, she said.

“I’ve had to learn a lot about why the pronouns are a thing, why the triggering is a thing, why mental health is a thing,” she said. “I’ve traveled that journey to learn what this is really about.”

Since holding a potluck event this summer in W.O. Riley Park in Woodstock that attracted about 55 attendees, the group has been passing out rack cards to libraries and other locations to spread the word.

They’re also holding a once-a-month support group for those who are LGBTQ and struggling with depression.

At their latest meeting, five of 12 attendees were from the transgender community, she said. But they have also welcomed parents and other family members who come to learn how to support a loved one who has come out as gay or trans or nonbinary.

“It was hard for them because they were going through a grieving process,” Wilburn said. She recalled one woman telling her, “I thought I had a daughter and now I have a son.”

Additionally, every time there’s an incident reported on the news of a hate crime or reports of bullying, Wilburn hears from interested residents.

“They’re concerned for their child’s safety,” she said, “... or the school policies.”

Besides offering support, she said the chapter also wants to educate about the LGBTQ community and dispel fear and myths.

“They have the same wants and needs as anybody else,” she said. “It’s not something to fear or to judge.”

For more information about the chapter, email

Contact Josette Keelor at

(6) comments

Dennis Atwood

Congrats to all involved with organizing and operating PFLAG Woodstock. No matter what ones "letters" - XX, XY, LGBTQ - or any of the rest of the alphabet, we are all human and should be treated humanely. There is strength in diversity, and in acceptance and kindness.


So wonderful to have this in our community! Thank you!


Thank you, Susie for all your hard work, courage and persistence in establishing a local chapter of PFLAG. This help fills an important and much needed support in our community.

God's Word, the rule of law and grace is what makes Christian government and the Christian Church, the body of Christ himself. All humanity was in fellowship with God and had rights given by God as long as humane people obeyed His Word. When they disobeyed God, rights were taken away, a part of God's loving justice with His righteous punishment. Anyone becomes a criminal when they disobey any commandment of God. Then rights are taken away until grace is bestowed by God because humane people repent and change to obey God, rather than continue to make His World a wicked place by continuing in anything that is classified as sin by God's Word. God made male and female for the designated purpose of reproducing His creation and being under subjection to all His commandments to glorify God Himself. One woman was given to one man to start this process of humans, created in the image of God, being recreated and to be in fellowship with ALL TRUTH. This God-created science of reproduction works only with male/female cells, not otherwise. Thus, for the continued command of God regarding, “multiply and replenish the earth” coupled with “obedience to His commandments”, for the first command to be continued in obedience, one male and one female would have to come together in holy matrimony to properly be in the will of God and to fulfill His commandments as they were made known to His creation as followed throughout Genesis to Revelation, as contains the whole law and grace of God.

Therefore, when this principle of a proper, holy. sacred marriage is disregarded to fulfill only sexual satisfaction outside of the will of God’s plan for one man and one woman for life, all manner of confusion against God’s will for His creations’ life becomes defiled. The only resolution for this sin or any sin is for repentance and correcting the behaviors that have brought a person into sin. There are many places where God’s will for humans is mentioned and many places where abominations against God’s will are described in the Holy Word of God. I will only refer to one for this post and pray that it will assist the readers to receive enlightenment from His Truth that will correct these types of erroneous views being taught in any educational institution or church, as well as in news media as though ANY sin is an “acceptable behavior” to continue in, in the sight of God Almighty’s eyes!

I Corinthians 6:9-11 says, “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” This passage makes it very clear that sinful behaviors stop when any person is repentant toward God and cleansed by the power of His Righteousness.


Your comment is really not cogent to the article. A group has formed to help others process and deal with harassment and hatred perpetrated toward them for simply being themselves. Copying and pasting scripture from the Bible with your own personal spin does not negate PFLAGs efforts. In fact, it seems their approach is a more Christian approach than what you espouse for as Jesus said, “Love thy neighbor as thyself.”

My comment does not have to be in agreement to the article. Nor does my

comment put my own personal spin on the holy scriptures that are clearly

stating the righteous judgment of God against homosexuality if one does not exhibit

repentance and changing the abominable lifestyle. God loves the person, but

hates the sinful lifestyles mentioned.

Welcome to the discussion.

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