Mom Died

Jim Burroway

January 8th, 2013

Sad news from PFLAG:

Today the world has lost a pioneer: Jeanne Manford, the founder of PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) and the Mother of the Straight Ally movement.

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.”

Jeanne Manford, marching with her son in the 1972 Christopher Street Day Parade.

Some history from PFLAG’s web site:

The idea for PFLAG began in 1972 when Jeanne Manford marched with her son, Morty, in New York’s Christopher Street Liberation Day March, the precursor to today’s Pride parade. After many gay and lesbian people ran up to Jeanne during the parade and begged her to talk to their parents, she decided to begin a support group. The first formal meeting took place in 1973 at a local church. Approximately 20 people attended.

Jeanne decided to march that year to support her son, who had been beaten in April while distributing gay rights pamphlets at a New York poliical event. Jeane became further angered over police inaction, and wrote a letter to the New York Post about it, identifying herself as the mother of a gay son.

Jeanne Manford was 92 years old.


January 8th, 2013

Jeanne seems to be spelled three different ways…

RIP. She was a great lady.

F Young

January 8th, 2013

What a wonderful legacy she left us. RIP

Ben In Oakland

January 8th, 2013

She was great lady, worth 50 of maggie gallagher and 500 of that dried up old shrew Miz Phyllis.

Timothy Kincaid

January 8th, 2013

Phylis Schafly is a good comparison. Both women had a gay son, but what a difference in response.

Timothy Kincaid

January 8th, 2013

Jeanne was a strong woman. She taught her son well. Here’s an article about Morty from May 5, 1992 NYT Obituaries:

Morty Manford, an assistant New York State attorney general and an early gay-rights advocate, died yesterday at his home in Flushing, Queens.

He was 41 years old and died of complications from AIDS, his family said.

Mr. Manford was a leader in the modern gay-rights movement. While a student in 1968, he helped found Gay People at Columbia University, one of the nation’s first gay campus groups.

In 1969 he was at the Stonewall Inn, a Greenwich Village bar, when a melee broke out between gay customers and raiding police officers. The incident spurred protests and a new militancy. That year Mr. Manford helped found the Gay Activists Alliance and became its president. His mother founded the forerunner of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, a national organization.

Melee at Inner Circle

But Mr. Manford was best known for his role in the 1972 indictment and trial of Michael Maye, then president of the city’s Uniformed Firefighters Association. Mr. Maye was accused of beating Mr. Manford at a gay-rights protest.

The incident occurred at the 50th annual Inner Circle dinner and lampoon show, sponsored by present and former reporters and attended by public officials and business executives.

Mr. Manford and a few cohorts invaded the affair, in a Hilton Hotel ballroom, to distribute leaflets and briefly seize the stage. They protested that the news media and government were ignoring gay issues.

They were ejected. Some people followed them into the hallway, and a fight ensued. Several city officials who witnessed the incident testified at the trial that Mr. Maye threw Mr. Manford down an escalator, then kicked and stomped him.

Mr. Maye denied the charges, saying he had been attacked. In the end, the judge acquitted Mr. Maye. But the case drew attention to the protest, to violence against homosexuals and to attempts to adopt a city gay-rights law, which Mr. Maye adamantly opposed. The law finally passed in 1986.

Mr. Manford was born in Queens. He graduated from Columbia in 1975 and from Cardozo Law School in 1981. For the next four years he was a public defender for the Legal Aid Society and since 1986 he worked for the Attorney General.

Surviving are his mother, Jeanne, of Astoria, Queens, and a sister, Suzanne Swan of San Francisco.

What they did not mention was that Morty’s lover was Vito Russo.

Ben In Oakland

January 8th, 2013

Timothy– that’s one of the two reasons I picked Miz Phyllis. The other one is not allowed.


January 8th, 2013

A pioneer and, it sounds like, a great woman.

Still, I have to confess a bit of relief seeing the article. The subject line by itself had me jumping to the conclusion that someone at BTB had just lost a parent.

Timothy Kincaid

January 8th, 2013

Ben, I’ll just imagine it.

Timothy Kincaid

January 8th, 2013

hyhybt, I thought so too.

Mine passed in November 1986, but I thought maybe it was Jim or Rob.


January 8th, 2013

I’m an officer of the Tampa PFLAG Chapter. Jeanne Manford and the history of PFLAG are more amazing than most people will ever know. I encourage everyone to memorialize her by reading more about her and by supporting your local PFLAG chapter.

Much, much metta and many, many merits Mother Manford. You certainly made the world a better place for your son, and for the wider gay community, than you found it.


January 9th, 2013

THANK YOU for posting this… Folks, especially the elder among us – never stop educating the next generations about the struggle for gay rights. So much has happened so fast, that for the youngest, there can be a sense of inevitability (and invulnerability)… without honoring those who kicked down doors for us, mended fences for us, spoke on our behalf, stitched quilts for us… we run the risk of complacency or even worse, smugness in our victories. More history !

Rob in San Diego

January 9th, 2013

RIP Mom!


January 11th, 2013

When my own mother ‘found out’ about me we embarked on 5 years of hell. She read an interview with Jeanne in the NYT, saw that she lived not far away, and called her. Jeanne invited her round and she and her son began to talk my mother. That was the beginning of her change of heart and it would not have happened without Jeanne.


July 26th, 2014

When I came out my grandmother coenacttd PFLAG and got some info from them. I learned about it from her years later! She had a gay nephew whom she loved who was much older than me and visited my home openly out with his partner throughout my childhood. In fact, my son is named for him. I never knew that she struggled with my coming out, she never let me know. Thankfully she had PFLAG to support her while she supported me.

Leave A Comment

All comments reflect the opinions of commenters only. They are not necessarily those of anyone associated with Box Turtle Bulletin. Comments are subject to our Comments Policy.

(Required, never shared)

PLEASE NOTE: All comments are subject to our Comments Policy.


Latest Posts

The Things You Learn from the Internet

"The Intel On This Wasn't 100 Percent"

From Fake News To Real Bullets: This Is The New Normal

NC Gov McCrory Throws In The Towel

Colorado Store Manager Verbally Attacks "Faggot That Voted For Hillary" In Front of 4-Year-Old Son

Associated Press Updates "Alt-Right" Usage Guide

A Challenge for Blue Bubble Democrats

Baptist Churches in Dallas, Austin Expelled Over LGBT-Affirming Stance

Featured Reports

What Are Little Boys Made Of?

In this original BTB Investigation, we unveil the tragic story of Kirk Murphy, a four-year-old boy who was treated for “cross-gender disturbance” in 1970 by a young grad student by the name of George Rekers. This story is a stark reminder that there are severe and damaging consequences when therapists try to ensure that boys will be boys.

Slouching Towards Kampala: Uganda’s Deadly Embrace of Hate

When we first reported on three American anti-gay activists traveling to Kampala for a three-day conference, we had no idea that it would be the first report of a long string of events leading to a proposal to institute the death penalty for LGBT people. But that is exactly what happened. In this report, we review our collection of more than 500 posts to tell the story of one nation’s embrace of hatred toward gay people. This report will be updated continuously as events continue to unfold. Check here for the latest updates.

Paul Cameron’s World

In 2005, the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote that “[Paul] Cameron’s ‘science’ echoes Nazi Germany.” What the SPLC didn”t know was Cameron doesn’t just “echo” Nazi Germany. He quoted extensively from one of the Final Solution’s architects. This puts his fascination with quarantines, mandatory tattoos, and extermination being a “plausible idea” in a whole new and deeply disturbing light.

From the Inside: Focus on the Family’s “Love Won Out”

On February 10, I attended an all-day “Love Won Out” ex-gay conference in Phoenix, put on by Focus on the Family and Exodus International. In this series of reports, I talk about what I learned there: the people who go to these conferences, the things that they hear, and what this all means for them, their families and for the rest of us.

Prologue: Why I Went To “Love Won Out”
Part 1: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Part 2: Parents Struggle With “No Exceptions”
Part 3: A Whole New Dialect
Part 4: It Depends On How The Meaning of the Word "Change" Changes
Part 5: A Candid Explanation For "Change"

The Heterosexual Agenda: Exposing The Myths

At last, the truth can now be told.

Using the same research methods employed by most anti-gay political pressure groups, we examine the statistics and the case studies that dispel many of the myths about heterosexuality. Download your copy today!

And don‘t miss our companion report, How To Write An Anti-Gay Tract In Fifteen Easy Steps.

Testing The Premise: Are Gays A Threat To Our Children?

Anti-gay activists often charge that gay men and women pose a threat to children. In this report, we explore the supposed connection between homosexuality and child sexual abuse, the conclusions reached by the most knowledgeable professionals in the field, and how anti-gay activists continue to ignore their findings. This has tremendous consequences, not just for gay men and women, but more importantly for the safety of all our children.

Straight From The Source: What the “Dutch Study” Really Says About Gay Couples

Anti-gay activists often cite the “Dutch Study” to claim that gay unions last only about 1½ years and that the these men have an average of eight additional partners per year outside of their steady relationship. In this report, we will take you step by step into the study to see whether the claims are true.

The FRC’s Briefs Are Showing

Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council submitted an Amicus Brief to the Maryland Court of Appeals as that court prepared to consider the issue of gay marriage. We examine just one small section of that brief to reveal the junk science and fraudulent claims of the Family “Research” Council.

Daniel Fetty Doesn’t Count

Daniel FettyThe FBI’s annual Hate Crime Statistics aren’t as complete as they ought to be, and their report for 2004 was no exception. In fact, their most recent report has quite a few glaring holes. Holes big enough for Daniel Fetty to fall through.