"I have a homosexual son, and I love him."
Jeanne Manford, the founder of Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, died Tuesday, January 8 at her home in Daly City, Calif. She was 92.
PFLAG's executive director, Jody M. Huckaby, released this statement:
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.”
Her son, the late Morty Manford, was gay. He was the victim of a beating during a demonstration by the Gay Activists Alliance in 1972. According to news reports, the police did not intervene. In a letter Jeanne Manford wrote to the New York Post, published April 29, 1972, she said, "I have a homosexual son, and I love him."
Jeanne Manford joined her son at gay pride parades, and the support she received, led her to form PFLAG.
PFLAG now has 350 official chapters across the U.S. and 200,000 members.A private interment service will be held and details of a later celebration of Jeanne Manford’s life and legacy will be announced. The family requests that any donations be made to the Jeanne Manford Legacy Fund (www.community.pflag.org/manfordlegacyfund) to support the ongoing work of PFLAG National: 1828 L Street, NW, Suite 660, Washington, DC 20036.