PHOTOS: On Tuesday we bid a sad farewell to Jeanne Manford, the founder of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, who passed away at 92. But our friends at the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation reminded us that this year also marks PFLAG’s 40th anniversary.

It was at the Christopher Street Liberation Day March in 1972 that Manford was inspired to launch the straight-ally movement. Walking with her son, Morty, Jeanne was stunned by how many paradegoers came up and asked her to talk to their parents. PFLAG held its first official meeting on March 11, 1973, at the Metropolitan-Duane United Methodist Church, now known as the Church of the Village.

From Off the Grid, the GVSHP blog:

Forty years ago, not many churches were willing to host groups dedicated to advocating for greater acceptance of lesbians and gay men, and not many people publicly embraced the identity of parents of lesbian and gay children.

But the Village had a long history of promoting acceptance of lesbians and gay men, and a considerable track record of embracing pioneers in fields from social justice to preservation to the arts and literature, and thus was fertile ground for the kind of organizing and culture-shifting Jeanne sought to undertake.

The simple gestures Jeanne Manford made forty years ago — calling upon families and society at large to understand and accept their gay and lesbian children, and to afford them equal rights and opportunities under the law — may seem quite mundane and obvious now.  But they were in fact brave and radical at the time.

Jeanne Manford is gone, but her legacy is immortal.

Check out images of Jeanne and the early gay and allied movement in the West Village

Photos: PFLAG National, GVSHP

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