PFLAG founder Jeanne Manford dies (1920-2013)

PFLAG – Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays – is the premiere gay rights group working with families of gay people, especially gay kids.  PFLAG is much revered in the gay community. PFLAG founder Jeanne Manford has died at 92.

From PFLAG National Executive Director, Jody Huckaby:

Today the world has lost a pioneer: Jeanne Manford, the founder of PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) and the Mother of the Straight Ally movement.

Jeanne was one of the fiercest fighters in the battle for acceptance and equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. It is truly humbling to imagine in 1972 – just 40 years ago – a simple schoolteacher started this movement of family and ally support, without benefit of any of the technology that today makes a grassroots movement so easy to organize. No Internet. No cellphones. Just a deep love for her son and a sign reading “Parents of Gays: Unite in Support for Our Children.”

This simple and powerful message of love and acceptance from one person resonated so strongly it was heard by millions of people worldwide and led to the founding of PFLAG, an organization with more than 350 chapters across the U.S. and 200,000 members and supporters, and the creation of similar organizations across the globe.

Jeanne’s work was called “the story of America…of ordinary citizens organizing, agitating, educating for change, of hope stronger than hate, of love more powerful than any insult or injury,” in a speech by President Barack Obama in 2009.

All of us – people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and straight allies alike – owe Jeanne our gratitude. We are all beneficiaries of her courage. Jeanne Manford proved the power of a single person to transform the world. She paved the way for us to speak out for what is right, uniting the unique parent, family, and ally voice with the voice of LGBT people everywhere.

Andy Towle has more, quoting Liz Owen at PFLAG on the date of Jeanne Manford’s 91st birthday last year:

Following a brutal attack on his life at a rally, Manford stood alongside her son in a protest through the streets of Manhattan, carrying a sign that read “Parents of Gays: Unite in Support for Our Children.” Begged by observers to speak to other parents, she started support groups teaching parents to accept and support their LGBT loved ones and become, like her, brave advocates for equality. As demand steadily increased, Manford founded PFLAG, a national organization with a mission of support, education, and advocacy.

President Obama explains the history of PFLAG:

This is a photo of Jeanne Manford marching with her son Morty:

jeanne-manford pflag

Jeanne Manford marches with her gay son Morty in NYC in the early 1970s.

 


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Google+. John Aravosis is the editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown (1989); and worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, and as a stringer for the Economist. Frequent TV pundit: O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline & Reliable Sources. Bio, .

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  • dcinsider

    What an amazing woman. In the end, she was just a mother, but she taught everyone what that really means.

    On eagles wings, my friend.

  • S1AMER

    PFLAG is a bunch of heroes in my book. Never underestimate the power of loving parents (and friends, and other family members–but, mostly, ferociously devoted parents)!

  • Krusher

    What a great, great lady. She was one of those that restores my faith in human nature.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Bedwell/1822575019 Michael Bedwell

    BRAVA for all she [and her husband] did, but those who care should care enough to get the facts right. Her son, legendary NY Gay Activists Alliance leader Morty Manford, wasn’t beaten up at a “rally” but rather while leafleting inside the Hilton Hotel at the 1972 annual dinner of the Inner Circle, composed of politicians, their supporters, and political press. As she later recalled: “I had a call from the hospital. I was furious. I remember thinking, What right have they got to assault my son and the others? Why didn’t the police protect them? What kind of a police force do we have in New York? And then I sat down and wrote a letter to the New York Post. This was long before Rupert Murdoch owned it. I mentioned in my letter that my son was gay and that the police stood by and watched these young gays being beaten up and did nothing. And it was printed.” His attacker was the president of the Uniformed Fire Fighters Association, whom witnesses testified punched, kicked, and “ground his shoe into [Morty's] groin area a number of times” after he was already prostrate on an escalator carrying him downward—but was still acquitted!

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Rest In Peace Jeanne. What an incredible woman— an American heroine.

  • bkmn

    As heroes go, Jeanne Manford was among the top of the heap.

    Thank you Jeanne for all you did.

  • Billcoop4

    Getting linked to an investment site.

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