Yesterday the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), and The Church of the Village unveiled a bronze historic marker now permanently affixed to the facade of this landmark church memorializing the first meeting of what came to be PFLAG, led by Jeanne Manford, at the church in 1973. PFLAG is now a national organization with 350 chapters in the United States and 200,000 members and supporters, which does work internationally as well.
It was a beautiful if hot and sunny day, and we were surrounded by dozens of well-wishers and supporters, particularly parishioners of the Church of the Village, who filed out after the service to participate in the unveiling.
A mother and school teacher from Queens, Jeanne Manford held the first meeting of what came to be PFLAG at the church after marching in the Christopher Street Liberation Day March (now the LGBT Pride March) with her son and Dr. Benjamin Spock, carrying a sign that read “Parents of Gays Unite in Support for Our Children.” So many people approached her based purely upon her sign, she realized she needed to create a place where other parents and family members of lesbians and gay men could gather to discuss their struggles and aspirations. What was then Duane United Methodist Church (since merged with the former West Fourth Street United Methodist Church to form The Church of the Village) gave Jeanne the space in which to hold the meeting. Such a meeting, and the willingness on the part of the church to house it, were radical moves at the time.
Jeanne died earlier this year at the age of 92. A wonderful ceremony was held at the church memorializing Jeanne Manford’s life this past spring. You can read more about our neighborhoods’ LGBT history here, and our plaque program here.
More images of the unveiling ceremony can be found on GVSHP’s Flickr page here.