A Pioneer Has Passed: Jeanne Manford (1920-2013)

A Pioneer Has Passed: Jeanne Manford (1920-2013)

Nico Stoerner, Staff Writer

“A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.”
-Joseph Campbell

Today we lost yet another great ally to the LGBT community. PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) Founder Jeanne Manford worked to establish the nation’s original family and ally organization as a grassroots movement and was the reason for the Straight Ally movement. She passed away today at the age of 92.

Jeanne Manford holding a photo of her son, Morty.

Jeanne Manford holding a photo of her son, Morty.

Having begun her work in 1972, this schoolteacher worked against the bigotry and disapproving culture of her day to help forge a brighter future for LGBT people, and she did it all without the modern technology and social media that makes it so much easier today. Her motivation? The love she carried in her heart for her gay son.

…that and a sign that stated “Parents of Gays: Unite in Support for Our Children.”

That simple — yet powerful message has shaped the world we know today, like ripples across water. It’s awe-inspiring to think that PFLAG is now an organization consisting of more than 350 chapters across the U.S.A. and 200,000 members and supporters. It’s also reassuring to note the influence it had in the creation of similar organizations around the world.

In a speech by President Barack Obama (given in 2009) he called Jeanne’s work “the story of America… of ordinary citizens organizing, agitating, educating for change, for hope stronger than hate, of love more powerful than any insult or injury.”
This is also the story of Jeanne: A woman, mother, teacher, activist, and more than anything a pioneer who saw the potential for a brighter future. I simply ask that you take a moment and pause to mourn, reflect upon, and honor the life of this beautiful person.

Without her, we would be living in a far more cruel reality.

Thank you Jeanne Manford, for being our greatest ally.

To become involved with PFLAG please visit:

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Categorized | News, Urban Culture

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