Remembering Jeanne Manford and the Founding of PFLAG

GVSHP is proud to be working with PFLAG (Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) and the Church of the Village at 13th Street and 7th Avenue to memorialize and celebrate Jeanne Manford.

Jeanne died earlier this year at 92, but forty years ago this March she held the first meeting of what would become PFLAG at the Church of the Village (then Duane United Methodist Church).  With this meeting, Jeanne helped launch a worldwide movement, and a national organization which now has over 350,000 members.

Jeanne Manford, center, with her son, Morty Manford, left, at the Christopher Street Liberation March in 1973, the precursor to today's Annual Gay Pride March.  Dr. Benjamin Spock, with glasses, is directly behind Morty.

Jeanne Manford, center, with her son, Morty Manford, left, at the Christopher Street Liberation March in 1973, the precursor to today’s Annual Gay Pride March. Dr. Benjamin Spock, with glasses, is directly behind Morty.  image c/o PFLAG National

This afternoon a memorial service celebrating the life and legacy of Jeanne Manford was held at the church of the Village.  Organized by PFLAG, the service not only remembered Jeanne’s incredible contributions, but looked towards the future.  GVSHP was honored to be a part of it.

Working in partnership with PFLAG and the Church, we unveiled a historic plaque marker which will be affixed to the exterior of the church, memorializing the site of the very first PFLAG meeting, and  Jeanne Manford’s work.

Here is the plaque as it appeared at today’s ceremony.

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Here are my remarks from the ceremony:

Good afternoon everyone, it is truly an honor to be here.  My name is Andrew Berman, and I am the Executive Director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation.

I did not know Jeanne Manford personally.  But I do know the legacy of her work.  It certainly touched my life, and that of my family.  I have no doubt that because of Jeanne and PFLAG, I, like many other LGBT people of my generation, had to struggle a little bit less, and found greater love and acceptance from family, friends, and peers.

At the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, our job is to help preserve and educate about the incredible history of Greenwich Village.  The breadth of that history and its influence upon the broader culture is sometimes almost too vast to comprehend.  But even in a community with such an outsized influence, I think that few figures — whether artists or writers, musicians or politicians — have had as profound, and tangible, and positive an impact upon the lives of as many people as Jeanne Manford did. 

One of many great points of pride that I take in celebrating the history of Greenwich Village is the incredibly important role that it played in providing a safe, open, and nurturing environment for LGBT people, especially when too few such places existed.  It is no coincidence that Jeanne, and other brave and loving parents, found themselves in this church, in this community, forty years ago, seeking to change the fundamental way in which we saw our families and our society.

It is thus with great pride that I would like to unveil today the bronze historic plaque marker which will be placed on the exterior of this wonderful church to mark the beginning, forty years ago, of PFLAG, by Jeanne Manford.

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Members of Jeanne Manford’s family, representatives of PFLAG, the Church of the Village, and GVSHP, attendees of the first PFLAG meeting in 1973, and Congressman Jerrold Nadler and City Councilmember Danny Dromm attended the ceremony and joined in the unveiling of the memorial plaque.

Later this year, a public unveiling will be held when the plaque is affixed to the exterior of the church.  I hope you’ll join us!

Find out more about our plaques program HERE and about LGBT History in our neighborhoods HERE.


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avatar Andrew Berman has been the Executive Director of GVSHP since 2002.