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January 25, 2013

P-FLAG founder Jeanne Manford dies at age 92

Daly City, Calif.--Just over 40 years ago, an elementary school teacher reacted in an interesting way to her son being beaten at a gay civil rights rally: She stood up, and kept standing up for him and other LGBT people.

That fight is now over for Jeanne Manford, one of the founders of PFLAG, who passed away on January 8 at her home. She was 92 years old.

Her son Morty was among a group of Gay Activist Alliance protesters at the 1972 Inner Circle dinner in New York City, a big-ticket affair that brought politicians and journalists together every year.

When a scuffle broke out, Morty Manford was assaulted by the president of the firefighters association, an allegation backed up by witnesses. His mother was incensed, and sent a letter to the New York Post, declaring her unconditional love for her son.

At the Christopher Street Liberation Day Parade, the earlier incarnation of the New York City LGBT Pride Parade, she marched with a sign urging, “Parents of Gays: Unite in Support for Our Children.” A year later, in 1973, the first meeting of Parents of Gays was held. Six years later, representatives of several parental support groups met to create an umbrella organization, which became Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. Jeanne Manford is officially regarded as the organization’s founder.

She is survived by her daughter Suzanne Swan, a granddaughter and three great-granddaughters, as well as thousands of LGBT people who found in her a foster mother, or whose own parents accepted them more fully because of her work.

“They were every gay person’s parents,” New York City Council member Daniel Dromm told the New York Times. He said that men and women, estranged from their own families, would find their way to the Manford home to find support.

Jeanne Manford’s papers, including the sign she carried in the parade, are in a collection at the New York Public Library.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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