Slideshow: Mothers-Turned-Activists

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Jeanne Manford


Jeanne Manford (center) and her son Morty march in what would become New York's first pride parade, 1972. (Wikimedia Commons)

When Jeanne Manford’s son Morty ended up in the hospital after being brutally beaten at a gay rights demonstration, Manford wrote a letter to the editor of The New York Post, criticizing the police for not protecting him. “I have a homosexual son and I love him,” she wrote. The year was 1972, and the open expression of acceptance of her son’s homosexuality was something new. Two months later, Manford marched alongside her son in New York’s gay pride march carrying a sign that read “Parents unite in support of our gay children.” The time was right and the sentiment struck a chord. In 1973, Manford founded a support group called Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians and Gays, better known as PFLAG. The organization now has over 200,000 members and 350 chapters across the country. Morty Manford died of AIDS in 1992. His mother Jeanne died earlier this year, at the age of 92, and was posthumously awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal by President Obama.

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