Washington, D.C. – On December 4, Jeanne Manford, the mother who inspired a movement of parents, families and allies to advocate for their LGBTQ loved ones would have been 100 years old. The organization she helped to found honored Manford who showed a strong commitment to the advocacy that resulted in establishing what is the nation’s first organization of its kind, PFLAG National shared. Manford was born in Flushing, Queens and was a graduate of Queens College. In her career, she was a math teacher from 1964-1990.
PFLAG National partnered with the Making Gay History podcast to highlight archival interviews with Jeanne and Morty Manford and an interview with Suzanne Swan. These interviews are featured on both PFLAG National and Making Gay Manford’s story and the story of PFLAG, in addition to re-elevating the speech given by President Barack Obama. “LGBTQ+ rights have come a long way thanks in part to Jeanne Manford’s advocacy and the ally movement she inspired. She urged parents, families, and allies to take action, to remove barriers, and to demonstrate love for their LGBTQ+ children, family members, and friends. In celebrating her 100th birthday, PFLAG National commits to continuing to carry that torch of advocacy until equal rights are extended to all people, inclusive of LGBTQ+ people,” said PFLAG National Executive Director Brian K. Bond.
“The world for LGBTQ+ people was vastly different in the 1970s when a schoolteacher from Queens joined the 1972 Christopher Street Liberation Day march carrying a sign that read, ‘Parents of Gays: Unite in Support for Our Children,’” said historian and family friend Eric Marcus, creator and host of the Making Gay History podcast. “When Jeanne co-founded an organization for parents of gay people nine months later — with her son Morty and husband Jules — she risked her job and public scorn, but she did it because she knew that parents had a key role in protecting their children from harassment and unjust laws.” In the early 1970s, laws in 43 states prohibited homosexuality. It was illegal to be gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or queer. Official penalties, if caught in a romantic or sexual relationship, ranged from jail time to chemical castration. Unofficial penalties included public shaming, loss of employment, loss of housing, discrimination in healthcare and death. Yet, despite the social stigma, Manford and about 20 other parents, LGBTQ individuals and allies gathered at what is now the Church of the Village in New York City and held what would be the first of many meetings to support and advocate The Manford family, including granddaughter Avril Swann, continues championing the work of PFLAG. (Q Notes Online – Lainey Millen at https://goqnotes.com/68571/pflag-founder-manfords-100th-birthday-celebrated/)
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