Ms. Manford, a school teacher from Flushing, New York, started the organization after her activist son was beaten while in a gay rights demonstration in April of 1972. She turned on the TV news and saw her son Morty Manford, being beaten by Michael J "Mickey" Maye, who was the leader of The Uniformed Firefighters Association. Mayes, ( I will not give him the honor of Mr.) Was also a former Golden Gloves heavyweight boxing champion. The police stood by and did nothing. Like his mother, Morty himself was involved in a gay rights group (some say )he helped found in 1969 called “Gay People at Columbia University”. Morty would later become an assistant New York State attorney general. Sadly, he passed away of Aids complications in May 1992.
Jeanne Manford’s now famous letter, which she wrote on April 29th 1972 stated the words that would start an open dialogue that has lasted over 4 decades. In that letter, she uttered the words that are the most important to an LGBT child :
Ms. Manford can be seen in this PFLAG video doing what she did best: spread knowledge on loving your LGBT family and friends:
Little did many realize that her support and love for her son would grow to become an organization that is over 500 chapters strong across 50 states! This from the small gathering of its first members in a Metropolitan Community Church on March 11, 1973.
It is sad that the passing of such a caring and loving mother, should come two years after PFLAG lost yet another beloved icon and leader: Ms. Adele Starr. It is some comfort to know that their legacy will still live on. R.I.P. and may your words and actions, continue to bring about understanding and love to the LGBT community.