In 1972 America was a different place...
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.
Today, PFLAG chapters can be found in all fifty states, in communities big and small, with over 350 chapters serving thousands of people with volunteer support, education outreach, and a call to advocate at local,state and federal levels for equality for their LGBT loved ones. Manford’s simple act of love and courage for her son has given voice to a population and their families, empowering them to come out and speak out for family values for all families.
In America’s civil rights history, Manford is the mother of the straight ally movement, creating a space for straight people to unite with LGBT people and take a public stand for LGBT equality.
According to Suzanne, Jeanne at 91 years young has her good days and bad days. Your stories of family acceptance, shared through the unique perspective of PFLAG members and supporters, are always a bright spot.