Shelley Argent, the long-serving spokesperson of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG+), is retiring from the role after 22 years of campaigning for LGBTIQ+ rights.
Shelley has been one of Australia’s most dedicated and tireless champions in the fight for LGBTIQ+ equality, not only in her home state of Queensland but across Australia.
Over her years of campaigning, she said, “I’ve seen great changes in legislation, but also the mellowing of societal attitudes.
“I was volunteering at QuAC (the Queensland AIDS Council, now the Queensland Council for LGBTI Health) in 1998 when over 1000 cases of HIV/AIDS were diagnosed annually in Queensland.
“Now, approximately 150 were diagnosed in 2020. It’s considered an STI, not a death sentence, thanks to PEP and PrEP and excellent safe-sex education.”
Shelley’s son James came out as gay in 1995. Her ambition to create an equal world for him drove her advocacy.
She later joined PFLAG Brisbane to provide support to other Queensland families. Shelley reinvigorated the group and it expanded nationally 13 years ago.
Since then, Shelley has campaigned for reform in a variety of areas benefiting LGBTIQ+ people.
“I feel I’ve been part of the many changes and been successful, along with others, while advocating for LGBTIQ+ rights,” she said.
“Over the years, I’ve made some great friends in the LGBTIQ+ community, met many interesting people and been included in some great events, including leading Mardi Gras in 2011.
“Being part of PFLAG+ has been a huge part of my life. And, as my son James says, ‘I am more gay than him,’ which is a compliment.”
In 2006, Shelley received the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for her community work.
She previously told her incredible story in her book Just A Mum in 2019.
PFLAG’s Jane Hopkins takes over from Shelley Argent
Shelley Argent said PFLAG’s President Jane Hopkins will now take over the role of national spokesperson.
“Jane is already fantastic. She is keen and has fresh ideas on how to improve PFLAG+,” Shelley said.
“Jane’s enthusiasm, commitment and dedication to see a better world for her son and everyone else in this community is her best asset and something we should all appreciate.”
Shelley said although she’s stepping down, she plans to remain an active member of PFLAG.
“I’ve done more and accomplished more than I could have imagined,” she said.
“I plan to remain part of PFLAG+ and hopefully part of this colourful and diverse community for a long time.
“Thank you all for your support of me over the years. If by chance you see me out and about, please come and say hello.”
Thank you, Shelley.
Pick up the next issue of QNews Magazine, out on February 12, for more on Shelley Argent’s legacy and PFLAG’s new leader Jane Hopkins.
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