WASHINGTON — PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), the nation’s largest grassroots-based non-profit for families, friends, and straight allies of LGBT people on Friday kicked off its milestone 40th anniversary year campaign, “PFLAG Then & Now…40 Years of Family and Ally Voices.”
The campaign will be a yearlong look at how PFLAG’s unique family and ally voice has been a crucial part of the LGBT movement, where PFLAG started, its achievements and goals toward achieving full equality for LGBT people.
PFLAG was founded in 1972 by Jeanne Manford, who marched along side her gay son Morty in New York’s Christopher Street Liberation Day Parade after watching a TV news report in which Morty was tossed down an escalator during a gay rights protest while New York City Police offices stood by and watched.
Manford was galvanized to take action through a simple act: walking side by side with him in the parade, carrying a sign that read, “Parents of Gays Unite in Support for Our Children.”
The response to Manford was overwhelming and she was begged by participants to speak to other parents and families.
In the year that followed, her grassroots movement spread like wildfire and in 1973 Manford, along with a small group of dedicated parents, founded PFLAG, an organization for parents, families, friends, and straight allies to unite with LGBT people in a shared mission of support, education, and advocacy.
That this movement spread so quickly — long before the age of the internet and mobile phones — was clear evidence of the need for an organization like PFLAG.
“Then, Jeanne had no legal recourse through which she could protect her son. The press refused to listen to her story and the government was silent in response to her calls for justice,” said Rabbi David M. Horowitz, PFLAG’s organization’s National President.
“Now, 40 years later, parents, families, friends, and allies of LGBT people have a voice – in large part thanks to PFLAG and its nearly quarter of a million members and supporters, who work relentlessly to create a society that not only protects the rights of their LGBT loved ones, but also celebrates their diversity and loving relationships,” Horowitz said.
“Jeanne Manford has been called the Mother of the Straight Ally Movement: the simple act of supporting her gay child empowered millions of family members and straight allies to do the same, demonstrating the force that a single voice has to transform the push for acceptance and equality for all,” said PFLAG National Executive Director Jody M. Huckaby.
Today, PFLAG has more than 350 affiliates throughout the United States and 11 other countries.