The rainbow community in Central Queensland lost a tireless stalwart with the passing of Ann Bell, 59, last month after a short battle with cancer.
For Ann, a chaplain with The Uniting Church, the revelation that one of her sons was gay was a life-changing moment.
When he came out to her, she had to re-evaluate her religious beliefs and spent a lot of time researching what the Bible had to say on homosexuality, giving her a better understanding of sexuality and religion.
“I have a stronger faith now and I have a new understanding of people who are gay,” Ann said at the time.
“I’m very happy that he’s gay, I love him unconditionally and I’m very proud of him.
“Initially I thought that he may have a hard life but everything is going well and Rockhampton has a large gay community.
“For myself, it has been difficult in the church because I have lost some Christian friends in other churches because they say it’s a sin and a choice,” Ann said.
From this, she founded PFLAG Capricornia to establish a local support group for parents and friends of lesbians and gays.
After initially meeting PFLAG’s national spokeswoman Shelley Argent in Brisbane, Ann subsequently attended numerous local workshops, CQ Fair Days and Rockhampton Club-Roc Inc. functions.
In a nutshell, she flew the flag for family and friends of the gay community in the region.
Rockhampton Club-Roc secretary Alan Flood said he was blessed to spend time with Ann at many of these events.
“We had lots of chats about what was going on in the community and finding ways we could learn and build on them,” he said.
“Ann demonstrated an unconditional love for her gay son and the community even when those close to her were less than supportive of her views.
“She never had an ill word to say for anyone no matter how unkind they were towards her and I, personally, will always treasure Ann for her compassion and understanding, based on her faiths and beliefs.”
Ann always said she hoped changes to marriage laws would be implemented soon.
“I have four sons and three of them are married and I would like my gay son to be able to get married as well one day.”
PFLAG Capricornia has recently been re-branded as PFLAG Central Queensland and has a new logo featuring Kevin the Bull.
The giant void left by Ann’s passing has been filled by Christie Green-Williams, who already has set up a new Facebook page and will endeavour to form a working committee to raise funds and offer ongoing services and support for the community.
At a charity ball last Saturday night, Club-Roc posthumously awarded Ann the annual community service trophy for her tireless work.
It also made a donation of $500 to PFLAG Central Queensland to help continue her legacy.
A service to celebrate Ann’s life was held at The Uniting Church in Yeppoon on June 2.