"PFLAG Flying in Owen County" (Bloomington Alternative, 8/16/06) is a great article. I am thrilled to hear the PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbian and Gays) chapter is doing so well in Owen County. I know what a struggle it was for me to found the PFLAG Seymour Chapter over 11 years ago.

But I must correct one misimpression: the reason the doors to the building where we hold our meetings in Seymour are locked (and we do allow people to leave — the doors open from the inside without any resistance) is because it is the building's policy that doors be locked on the weekend, not because we fear imminent attack.

We cannot leave the whole building open without supervising the entrance. For years we met in the library (where the outside doors locked after hours also), then a local church and a local hotel without locks, guards or incidents.

Seymour PFLAG has not been cowering in the closet in fear.

Many members responded this year to an invitation to our chapter to participate in the Jackson County United Way's Day of Caring. For the last seven years, we have sponsored public World AIDS Day awareness events in Seymour. I believe we are one of the few rural communities in southern Indiana to do so.

We have been on the front page of our local paper many times. As a chapter, we created and distributed diversity resource books [replete with resources to respond to GLBT issues] to our high school counselors and diversity coloring books to the grade schools throughout the county.

I created and presented the organization in the rural workshop that you referred to in your article. The national leaders of PFLAG have requested I present this workshop at their regional conference in November because Seymour PFLAG Chapter is a working model of a successful rural chapter.

We do not publish the location of our meetings, any more than the Spencer Chapter does, to ensure the safety and confidentiality of anyone who wants to attend. Most of our members are out and proud, but we remember well when that was not the case and how we feared being "outed."

So we try to create a safe and welcoming atmosphere for the first timer who is taking that first shaky step out of the closet. We are very protective of our members' and guests' right to feel safe, even if most of us are unabashed in our daily lives.

I am concerned this misinformation that "we are absolutely terrified and our posted guards do not allow people to leave" could prevent an interested party from coming to our meetings. Seymour PFLAG Chapter has a mailing list of over 100 households and has an average attendance of 25 at our monthly meetings.

Rhea Murray is founder/president of the Seymour PFLAG Chapter.