In 1973 Jeanne Manford’s fierce love for her gay son in the face of national condemnation of homosexuality led her to create a support network for other families, Parents of Gays, later known as PFLAG. Manford’s education was interrupted first by her father’s final illness and then by marriage and children; she graduated from Queens College in 1964 and began teaching public school at PS 32, where she would work until 1990. After her oldest son, Charles, died suddenly, she was determined to support her younger son, Morty, who came out at age fifteen. When Morty was brutally beaten for distributing pro-gay flyers at a New York gala, Manford wrote a letter to the New York Post and walked alongside Morty at that year’s Christopher Street Liberation Day March holding a sign urging other parents to support their gay children. Met with overwhelmingly positive responses from gays, lesbians, and their families, she founded Parents of Gays the following year to offer support and education to families. In her later years, Manford cared for her son, who died of AIDS in 1992, then helped tend her great-granddaughter to enable her granddaughter to attend medical school. President Obama honored her with the 2012 Presidential Citizens Medal.
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Jewish Women's Archive. "Jeanne Manford." (Viewed on January 24, 2021) <https://jwa.org/people/manford-jeanne>.