The co-founder of PFLAG’s Sydney branch as well as its western Sydney founder, Smith will be leading the float with good friend Pamela Garske, another foundation member of Western Sydney PFLAG.
Speaking to the Star Observer this week from her retirement home in Sydney’s west, Smith reflected on her decades of activism on behalf of LGBTI children and their families.
She started the Western Sydney PFLAG chapter at Parramatta in 1995 alongside husband Ken Smith, who died last July. The couple had four children – three of whom are gay.
“I think that when you have children that don’t quite fit the mould, so to speak… I think that I’ve learnt a lot,” she said.
“It really warms my heart the way that PFLAG is now doing quite a bit in going into schools and talking to the kids. That gives me such a lot of pleasure.”
Smith also paid tribute to all the parents who made PFLAG the strong organisation it is today while acknowledging the help received from other organisations.
“I’m very appreciative of all the help ACON gave us in the beginning,” she said.
“They found us a little place to meet which is so difficult in Sydney; it’s very expensive. They really were wonderful. They helped us get off the ground and even helped prepare brochures for us.”
With 100 participants slated to take part in PFLAG’s float, asked for her reasons why she intended to march this year, Smith said it was politics and despair under Prime Minister Tony Abbott that was was motivating her.
“The political people who are in office now are not all that accepting of the gay community and homosexuality in general,” she said.
“That’s a feeling that I have.”
She also had a message for everyone who will be at Mardi Gras on March 1.
“I would say be proud of who you are and don’t ever be ever ashamed of being gay. The contribution gays have made to the community has been enormous,” she said.
“The contribution gay people have made in winning rights has been so tremendous.”
Her other advice was for parents to love their kids and try to understand them.
“I want to give a message to parents to love their kids,” Smith said.
“The saddest thing for me is seeing young people rejected because of their sexuality – rejection because they may be slightly different.”