PFLAG founder Jeanne Manford Passes Away

Jeanne Manford, the founder of PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) and an all-around pioneering straight ally in the LGBT rights movement, has died at 92.

Manford died at her Daly City, Calif. home and had been in declining health for some time, daughter Suzanne Swan confirmed. 

One day in April 1972, Jeanne Manford received a call from the hospital. Her 21-year-old son, Morty, had been beaten at a Hilton Hotel in New York City. Witnesses later testified that his alleged attacker punched, stomped and kicked him as he lay on an escalator.

Morty Manford was gay. He had gone to the Hilton with other activists to storm a glitzy banquet attended by public officials and reporters in protest against what he viewed as the rampant bigotry and wanton neglect of gay rights.

Jeanne Manford, at front and center, marched alongside her son Morty Manford in a 1972 gay rights parade in New York City.

“I was furious,” Mrs. Manford later told an interviewer, recalling the incident. “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?”

The next year, with help from her family and other allies, Mrs. Manford founded a group now known as Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, or PFLAG. It began as a gathering of 20 people and today is one of the most prominent national organizations of relatives and other supporters of gays and lesbians. 

(Morty died in 1992 – from complications from AIDS).

“All of us — people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and
straight allies alike — owe Jeanne our gratitude,” PFLAG officials said
in an email statement. “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.”