Jeanne Manford, who founded a national movement aimed at helping families accept and support their gay children and friends, died Tuesday.
Manford was a Queens schoolteacher when she began her activism in 1972, after her gay son was beaten during a demonstration in New York City. She wrote a letter to the New York Post, saying "I have a homosexual son and I love him." The enormous response she received from other family and friends of gays and lesbians led her to create a group she called Parents of Gays, later known as PFLAG or Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.
Jody Huckaby, executive director of PFLAG, said Morty Manford was so touched by his mother's support that he asked her to join him in the gay pride parade a few months later.
"Morty was so impressed that he asked her to join him in the Village for the Christopher Street Liberation Day Parade and it was radical. I remember her telling me, she said, 'You know, I told Morty I would march with him, but I, being a school teacher, would have to make my own sign' and so she carried a sign and it said 'Parents of Gays: Unite in support of our children' and that was a radical concept, that a straight woman, a mother, would publicly walk arm-in-arm with her gay son."
Manford died in her home in Daly City, California. She was 92.