PFLAG, the nation’s first and largest organization for family and allies of LGBTQ people, celebrated its 45th anniversary this spring. According to the organization’s national newsletter, PFLAGpole, “While we’ve seen different dates floating around for the actual anniversary of our first meeting, the Manford archives at the New York Public Library say March 11th is the official date!”
However, the founding act occurred earlier, when New York schoolteacher Jeanne Manford proudly walked next to her gay son, activist Morty Manford, at the 1972 Christopher Street Liberation Day Parade (above), carrying a sign that read, “Parents of Gays: Unite in Support for Our Children.”
The following March, the Manford family met with a handful of other supportive parents at the Metropolitan Community Church on Seventh Avenue in New York City. According to PFLAGpole, the Manfords were the driving force behind the founding because “they simply knew they needed to do something for the many lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer kids who were suffering — and for their families, who were afraid to lose them.”
What started as a self-help support group has since transformed into the vibrant national organization it is today, with nearly 400 chapters across the country (including in Puerto Rico) providing support, education, and advocacy to the family and friends of LGBTQ people. This August, Verizon showed its gratitude by presenting PFLAG — which the company has supported since 2002 — with $250,000.
“Thanks to Verizon’s generosity, we will grow and strengthen the PFLAG chapter network, connect and keep families together, further family acceptance and ally activation, and reinforce our chapters’ ability to be a powerful source of peer-to-peer support, education, and advocacy in their communities,” said Jean Hodges, president of the PFLAG National board of directors, in a statement to the press.
Today, PFLAG has hundreds of thousands of supporters in the U.S., and it has launched a global movement that continues to show how powerful outspoken and supportive parents can be — and not just for their own kids.