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Grace Perez

"For us having a gay son was not a big deal. I will admit there were some challenges with some friends and family, but our priority was to support and defend our son."

1. Where and when you were born?   

“I was born and raised in Carlsbad New Mexico. 8/26/1957
 

2. What year and college did you attend? What degree/s did you pursue? After I married my husband, we moved to northern California where we lived for 38 years.  I didn’t attend college until the year 2000. I wanted to do floral design after I retired from the US Postal Service in Fremont Ca, so I attended the College of San Mateo in San Mateo California, and got my CSM Certificate in Horticulture Floristry.
 

3. Could you tell me about your involvement in The LGBTQ community? I believe I need to tell you why first.  As you will see my plans for retirement did not turn out as planned. 

My husband and I had a son who was gay. For us having a gay son was not a big deal. I will admit there were some challenges with some friends and family, but our priority was to support and defend our son. After college, my son moved to Los Angeles and worked as a fitness trainer. In his early years in Los Angeles, he struggled with addiction, however, he was able to seek help and eventually dedicated his life to helping others lead a clean life. He offered fitness training, boot camps and he did fundraisers to bring awareness on LGBTQI issues. This was a big part of his life and often said it was his greatest accomplishment.

 

My son died in October 2013. My husband and I had just retired and moved to El Paso two months earlier in August. 

I felt I needed to continue what my son did in some way so when we returned to El Paso from his memorial service, I looked up PFLAG. I attended the El Paso PFLAG meeting the next month in November and became a volunteer. Not too long after that, I became part of the Board of Directors. 

Then—after being assured that becoming vice president would allow me to learn more about the workings of the board without specific responsibilities—it was  June 26, 2015, the president found it necessary to resign.  The PFLAG Board held an emergency meeting.  And I was elected president. 

On my first official day of becoming President, the call came:  The United States Supreme Court had ruled in favor of marriage equality, and I needed to speak at a celebratory gathering outside of the courthouse.  As President of PFLAG reporters needed my reaction.

As the whirlwind subsided, my routine became participating in a wide range of presentations for community awareness and advocacy, participating in weekly PFLAG conference calls, and partnering with other organizations in support of the LGBTQ community and family members. 

I am proud to say I accompanied Dr. Brenda Risch to many meetings as she valiantly pursued her dream to open a center that would provide a safe place for the LGBTQI+ community to heal, grow and empower themselves.  

During my time as President, I organized PFLAG El Paso’s two monthly support meetings and, partnering with Borderland Rainbow Center weekly support group meeting for the families of transgender youth, I presented LGBTQ+ awareness programs for organizations ranging from the Department of Veterans Affairs, Federal Bureau of Investigation, to the staffs and faculties of area public schools, and facilitating the programs of PFLAG El Paso. In December 2019 I decided not to run for reelection as President of PFLAG El Paso. 

                
4. What is your current occupation?
Retired US Postal Service Fremont California (mail carrier)

 

5. I was wondering What titles have you held? Are there any other advocacy groups you’ve been involved with/ worked for? (Please share dates if possible) and if so inclined your most notable work from your perspective at each group.


While I was employed as a mail carrier I served as Shop steward NALC Branch 1111 for the Fremont office and was an Executive Council member for the NALC (National Association of Letter Carriers) Branch 1111 that served 30 cities in the Greater East Bay. From 1988-1994.

6. Please tell me about any achievements or awards you have received. 
I received the “Shop Steward of the Year” award from NALC Branch 1111.  I think it was 1992. From BRC in June 2019 the “Outstanding Services to the LGBTQI Community of the Year” award.” – Grace Perez 09/01/2021

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