Adele Starr, a Brentwood, Calif., mother of five who overcame dismay at her son’s homosexuality to become a leading voice for gay rights and marriage equality, and eventually the first national president of PFLAG, died Friday. She was 90.
In 1976, Starr founded the Los Angeles chapter of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, a gay rights and acceptance organization known then as Parent FLAG, now as PFLAG.
In 1979, she spoke on the steps of the U.S. Capitol at a march for gay rights — a seminal event often credited with uniting a then-nascent movement.
Two years later, she became PFLAG’s first national president; she served in that capacity until 1986 and remained a forceful advocate for civil rights and, in later years, for the legalization of same-sex marriage.
At the time when Starr’s son Phillip came out in 1974, homosexuality was still generally viewed as a mental illness, or the result of bad parenting.
Phillip said he encouraged his mother to form a support group, which eventually evolved into the organization now known as PFLAG.