Tuesday, January 8, 2013

It is with great sorrow that we share with all of you the passing of PFLAG's founder, Jeanne Manford

From PFLAG National Executive Director, Jody Huckaby:

Today the world has lost a pioneer: Jeanne Manford, the founder of PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) and the Mother of the Straight Ally movement.

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.


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 to support the ongoing work of PFLAG National: 1828 L Street, NW, Suite 660, Washington, DC 20036.


Jeff Early said...

On behalf of the Austin chapter, we are sad to hear this news, but we thank Jeanne for her unwaivering lifelong commitment to equality for the LGBTQIA community. Perhaps she can put in a good word with the man upstairs so we can all live in peace.

Rebecca M said...

The Panama City, FL chapter is also deeply saddened by Jeanne's passing. We will take a moment at the support meeting tonight to celebrate her life and the countless lives she touched and changed for the better. We're resolved to carrying on her legacy.

Ivan Hinton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ivan Hinton said...

On behalf of the Capital Region chapter in Canberra, Australia, we would like to extend our condolences to Jeanne's family for their loss. Jeanne has left the world a more loving, accepting, compassionate and educated place than it was before her time. The impact of Jeanne's life is felt here, on the other side of the earth. Through Jeanne's tirelessness Mums, Dads, Families and Allies across the world are now empowered to works towards a time when GLBTI people can live their lives without fear of experiencing prejudice or persecution.

From Australia, thank you Jeanne.

For any people who need to connect we can be found at www.facebook.com/pflagACT

Anonymous said...

Dirge without Music

Edna St. Vincent Millay

I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.
So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:
Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned
With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.
Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.
Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.
A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,
A formula, a phrase remains, --- but the best is lost.

The answers quick & keen, the honest look, the laughter, the love,
They are gone. They have gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled
Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not approve.
More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the world.

Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful person.... and evenmore a great mother.... so many of us never had this type of support from our moms... but I'm sure she was a mom to many of us over they years...


The story of Jeanne Manford marching in the 1972 Christopher Street Liveration Day March with her son Morty is inspiring. It was a beautiful moment in her life of activism.
I was moved today for the first time to ask who Morty was, and found his obituary on a Google search. Monty Manford had been an activist for several years before those events. In 1968, when he was 17, he helped found the Gay People at Columbia University, and in 1969 he participated in the Stonewall Uprising. That same year he helped found the Gay Activist Alliance, and became its President. He went on to become an assistant NY State Attorney General. And he died at 41 years in 1992 in Flushing, Queens, from complications of AIDS.
The Manford's of Flushing were an iconic LGBT/PFLAG activist family.

PFLAG Norman, Ok said...

PFLAG Norman, OK Chapter would like to offer our sincere condolences to Jeanne's family. I don't know if she ever knew how many lives she touched. There are countless LGBTQ folks and the families that love them, that owe gratitude and debt to the work she did - bringing joy and happiness to those who may have had a hard time finding it. We hope and pray that we can carry on the spirit and courage of such a radical believer in love and goodness. And continue to be an ever-flowing source of support, advocacy and education to our community and across the nation. May we all do everything we can to move equality forward!

Terrie V said...

I feel so lucky to be part of an organization that was founded on the love of this woman for her son. I am forever grateful for the example she shared on how to be a fearless, loving mother. She brought us together to take on the world and make it a better place for all human beings. What a legacy. Rest in peace. We will continue your good work.

Fleshlight said...

Born Jeanne Sobelson in Flushing, Queens in 1920, the third of five daughters of Sadie, a housewife, and Charles Sobelson, a salesman, she studied for a short time in Alabama before stopping her studies to return home after her father's death. She married Jules Manford, had three children (Charles, Morton and Suzanne) and returned to college in her 30s, earning her bachelor's degree from Queens College and joining the faculty of PS 32 in Queens in 1964.

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