The founder of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), Jeanne Manford, has passed away at age 92. In 1972, Manford accompanied her son Morty to a Gay Activists Alliance demonstration, where he ended up being attacked, leading her to declare in the New York Post, “I have a homosexual son and I love him.” PFLAG National Executive Director Jody Huckaby paid tribute to Manford today: 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.” 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. No doubt, PFLAG has been a crucial force in helping families learn to accept LGBT youth by connecting them with other families also doing their best to love and accept theirs. President Obama paid tribute to Manford and her efforts at a Human Rights Campaign dinner a few years ago.
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