Tag Archives: Jeanne Manford

Flushing gay rights activist honored with street co-naming


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

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A local activist who paved the way for gay rights was honored along with her family with a street co-naming Saturday on the Flushing block where she lived and worked.

Standing in front of Jeanne Manford’s former home on 171st Street, politicians, including openly-gay Councilman Daniel Dromm, neighbors and members of the gay rights community, held a ceremony to unveil the new Jeanne, Jules and Morty Manford PFLAG Way street sign.

“I think it’s important for everybody to know the struggle that we’ve gone through, and how we got to where we are today, and it was because of people like Jeanne, Jules and Morty that we are where we are today,” Dromm said.

Photo courtesy of Councilman Daniel Dromm’s office

Manford founded Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) in 1972 and walked with her gay son, Morty, in the New York City Pride March at a time when homosexuality was still considered a mental disorder. The Manfords also took in young people who were thrown out of their homes for being gay.

Now PFLAG has more than 350 chapters and 200,000 members across the country that work toward improving the rights of gay people everywhere.

“We all do the work that we do because it’s right and it feels good and it’s just the right thing to do, but when Jeanne did it, it was so courageous,” said Dale Bernstein, president of PFLAG.

Manford, who died last year at the age of 92, was awarded the 2012 Presidential Citizens Medal for her achievements by President Barack Obama.

Jeanne’s daughter Suzanne Swan, who lives in California, attended the ceremony, where she recalled memories of her mother.

“She was just my mother,” she said. “She was just nice, sweet, quiet, and it’s just overwhelming for me to come here and hear the stories and see the people, it’s been fantastic.”

 

 

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Push to rename Flushing street for gay rights activist


| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Councilmember Danny Dromm’s office

A trailblazing gay rights activist who left her stamp on the world as a historic and heroic leader may soon be memorialized on a Flushing street sign.

Community Board 7 passed a motion on Monday to honor Jeanne Manford with a street-name change for standing up for gays and lesbians at a time when homosexuality was still considered a mental disorder.

Manford started a local support group in 1972 for parents of gays and lesbians. It turned into a worldwide movement called Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) that now has more than 350 chapters and 200,000 members in the country.

She also supported her gay son by famously rallying with him at the New York Pride March.

Manford died this January at age 92. She was posthumously awarded the 2012 Presidential Citizens Medal.

“It’s emotional for me as an openly gay legislator in the City Council,” said Councilmember Danny Dromm. “What Jeanne did took extreme courage to do in 1972. Times have changed tremendously, but in those days, she could have lost everything.”

The lawmaker and community board want to co-name 171st Street, between 33rd and 35th Avenues, to “Manford Family PFLAG Way.”

The Manfords lived on the street and took in youngsters who were thrown out of their homes for being gay, Dromm said.

“Jeanne Manford was to us what Rosa Parks is to the black civil rights movement,” Dromm said. “It took an act of courage by a mother for the love of her son.”

However, Flushing resident James Trikas and board member Nick Corrado, who is also an FDNY chief officer, disagreed.

They said street-names should be reserved for military, police and fire department officers killed in the line of duty.

“If you want to memorialize things, well, put a plaque somewhere, landmark their house if you want,” Trikas said. “It does not belong on the street sign.”
Corrado, the only board member who voted against the motion, touted

Manford’s legacy but said it was not on the same level as those who serve the city, state and country.

“As wonderful as those acts of kindness are, I cannot, in my own opinion, say it’s the same as laying down your life — your life — for someone you don’t know at all in the line of duty,” he said.

Community Board 7 approved the proposal 30-1. The motion now needs approval from the borough president and City Council.

“If you open a history book on the LGBT movement, she’s in these books,” said Democratic State Committeeman Matt Silverstein, who is openly gay.

“This is someone who made an extreme impact on our community. I think it’s an incredibly deserving honor.”

 

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