Helping LGBTQ+ individuals and their families since 1985.

PFLAG Cleveland was established in July, 1985 by Jane Daroff, LISW-S & Dr. Jes Sellers. Through our monthly support group meetings we foster understanding and acceptance within families. Through education and advocacy we change hearts and minds in the Greater Cleveland community. 

Over the years, PFLAG's definition, mission and vision have evolved. 

Today, they move us forward better meet the needs of our community:

Our Mission: To create a caring, just, and affirming world for LGBTQ+ people and those who love them. 

Our Vision: An equitable, inclusive world where every LGBTQ+ person is safe, celebrated, empowered, and loved.

In the early years, (~1980s-2000) 'PFLAG' was initially defined by its acronym: Parents Families and Friends of Lesbian and Gays.  Later, (~2000 to 2022) it evolved to more clearly support and advocate for a broader spectrum of our community.  During those years, our mission moved away from the original acronym to meet the needs of our community. Here is how we defined our mission at that time:  "We, the parents, families and friends of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons, celebrate diversity and envision a society that embraces everyone, including those of diverse sexual orientations and gender identities. Only with respect, dignity and equality for all will we reach our full potential as human beings, individually and collectively. PFLAG welcomes the participation and support of all who share in, and hope to realize this vision." 

Jane Daroff and Jes Sellers, co-founders of PFLAG Cleveland
Jane Daroff and Jes Sellers, co-founders of PFLAG Cleveland and support group facilitators

A Brief History of PFLAG Cleveland

By Jane Daroff, Co-Founder, PFLAG Cleveland

PFLAG Cleveland held its first meeting in July, 1985. Trinity Cathedral agreed to host us monthly at no charge. Our first meeting included PFLAG Akron who came to provide support. The number of attendees vacillated from 8-20 for the first several years. At some point in its history, the group seemed to take on a life of its own and I no longer worried whether we would have an ample number of attendees.

The Way We Offer Support

Our group meetings now range from 25-45 people. We arrange ourselves in a circle and each person introduces him/herself/themselves. New participants are given additional time in a second go-around. We continue this format today. We experimented both with having speakers and dividing into two groups but the original format has been favored and we have maintained that structure. [note: during the pandemic, we met virtually; today, we offer the option for participants to meet in-person or virtually on Zoom}.

Our Volunteer Executive and Advisory Boards

Jane Daroff and Jes Sellers founded the group and remained its sole leaders until PFLAG National encouraged shared leadership through an advisory board. At this point, Robin Richmond was elected President while Jane and Jes continued as meeting facilitators. Later, Sharon Groh-Wargo became PFLAG Cleveland's President, a position she held for 10 years before stepping into the Vice President role in 2018. Tom Falcone is the current President, and is assisted by other officers of an Executive Board, as well as at-large members of an Advisory Board, that meets monthly. We have offered our home phones as a hot line resource for our members.

Trinity Cathedral was chosen initially by Rob Daroff because it was the only church out of 15 that provided us rent-free space. The only expenses we had initially were those that connect with our PFLAG National membership. While expenses have increased over the years (we now rent our meeting space and pay for our parking for our attendees), we remain grateful for our long-standing relationship with Trinity. 

What Makes Us Special

We consider ourselves an educational and emotional support group for parents, families, and friends of LGBTQ+ individuals, as well as for their allies. It has been this diverse mix which has helped to make us unique and valuable in the community.

PFLAG Cleveland love and acceptance logo

Press release announcing the launch of  

PFLAG's newest Ohio chapter in 1985. The Cleveland chapter was the second in the state following Akron's in 1983. 

The Gay Peoples Chronicle