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PFLAG Founder Jeanne Manford Dies at 92


Jeanne Manford, the founder of Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) in 1972, has died at the age of 92, the group reports.

RallyWrote Liz Owen on the occasion of Manford's 91st birthday last year:

Being gay was a crime, over half of the U.S. population deemed homosexuality morally wrong, vicious attacks on gay people were commonplace, and the idea of equality for gays and lesbians was a radical notion. But this didn’t stop Bronx, New York schoolteacher Jeanne Manford from ensuring that her gay son, Morty, received the same treatment as her straight daughter, Suzanne.

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.

Writes PFLAG's Brooke Smith:

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.

Our thoughts go out to Manford's family and those close to her.

The family requests that any donations be made to the Jeanne Manford Legacy Fund to support the ongoing work of PFLAG National: 1828 L Street, NW, Suite 660, Washington, DC 20036.

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  1. Thanks Jeanne.

    Posted by: BETTY | Jan 8, 2013 5:53:33 PM

  2. RIP wonderful lady!

    Posted by: Jack | Jan 8, 2013 5:59:07 PM

  3. What a wonderful and caring mother.

    Posted by: Paul R | Jan 8, 2013 6:08:35 PM

  4. Thank you, Jeanne. God bless.

    Posted by: dh | Jan 8, 2013 6:10:58 PM

  5. What a great mom and leader in her lifetime, such an inspiration. She proved you can "be the change" you want to see.

    Posted by: RONTEX | Jan 8, 2013 6:13:11 PM

  6. RIP Jeanne!

    Posted by: KP | Jan 8, 2013 6:17:14 PM

  7. Morty was very fortunate to have such an amazing mom, just think how awesome the world would be if all LGBT youth had a mom like Jeanne.

    Posted by: Ryan | Jan 8, 2013 6:25:23 PM

  8. A fine example for any parent to follow!

    Posted by: Brian in Texas | Jan 8, 2013 6:25:33 PM

  9. Her work will live on. Lives saved, and families put back together.

    And PFLAG is entirely volunteer-run.

    When/If your family doesn't "need" PFLAG, then PFLAG needs you.

    Consider volunteering.

    Posted by: LittleKiwi | Jan 8, 2013 6:30:50 PM

  10. Inspirational. Hey Jeanne, thanks for making this place better than you found it. I hope we can all say the same.

    Posted by: stranded | Jan 8, 2013 6:39:34 PM

  11. BRAVA for all the lives she [and her husband] helped save. But those who care so much about her should care to get the facts right. "Being gay" was never a "crime" in the US, and her son, the late Morty, wasn't attacked at a "rally" but during one of the "zaps" by NYC's Gay Activisst Alliance which he helped found. His attacker was the president of the Uniformed Fire Fighters Association, and despite witnesses testifying that he 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 he was acquitted.

    Posted by: Michael Bedwell | Jan 8, 2013 6:53:51 PM

  12. I am so, so glad she had the fortitude to be the change she wanted to see in the world. How wonderful that she went from 1972, when things where so dark in so many ways, to 2012 where Morty could have married and had New York recognize it.

    As for PFLAG, it really has saved so many families. My own included. My Mom was always a bit too supportive of me and my brother, but Dad was the last person you'd expect at a Pride March. But with PFLAG (and my Mom) he and I carried the PFLAG banner many a year. Cheering crowds running up to hug them, saying: I wish my parents were as cool as you.

    Well, they weren't cool, but they were cool that two of their sons are gay.

    Posted by: SoSeriouslyY | Jan 8, 2013 6:54:21 PM

  13. Thank you for all that you have done and for your bravery.

    Posted by: Alex | Jan 8, 2013 6:57:42 PM

  14. What great work she did. Whose picture is she holding?

    Posted by: Marky | Jan 8, 2013 7:01:28 PM

  15. Michael Bedwell: Perhaps "being gay" was not a crime, but surely you know that sticking it in anything other than a vagina was against the law in many many places in the United States, right?

    Posted by: Rey | Jan 8, 2013 7:11:34 PM

  16. A brave, tough, loving lady.

    I believe some of Frank Kameny's original protest posters were donated to the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. I wonder if Jeanne's original "Parents Unite" poster could join that collection.

    Posted by: SC David | Jan 8, 2013 7:27:43 PM


    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Jan 8, 2013 8:18:38 PM

  18. Uh, Marky, that would be a photo of her son.

    Posted by: Paul R | Jan 8, 2013 8:41:09 PM

  19. I remember this in 1972.... it made me come out that year...........scary as it was back then.... the cops would still raid the "queer" bars here in new orleans....

    Posted by: steve | Jan 8, 2013 8:56:05 PM

  20. I think it is also important to note that even after her son, Morty, died in May of 1992, Jeanne continued her active involvement with what became PFLAG for another decade. She deserves to be recognized as a true leader in the struggle for gay rights.

    Posted by: MikeBoston | Jan 8, 2013 9:09:05 PM

  21. Thank you, Jeanne. RIP. We won't forget.

    Posted by: Francis | Jan 8, 2013 9:49:00 PM

  22. Jeanne's story is one of unadulterated courage and committed, consistent, loving effort. She dies a hero of the first order in my book. Thank you dear for efforts that have made the lives of so many so much better.

    Posted by: UFFDA | Jan 8, 2013 10:11:56 PM

  23. A great woman and a great humanitarian. For whom I am grateful.

    Posted by: rapture | Jan 8, 2013 10:13:06 PM

  24. Humbling, indeed.

    A Mother to us all; may she rest in Peace.

    Posted by: Aarchman07030 | Jan 8, 2013 10:23:30 PM

  25. Thank you for all you have done!

    Posted by: Mark Allyn | Jan 8, 2013 10:45:10 PM

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