April 29, 1972:
“I Am Proud Of My Gay Son”: Frustration had been growing in New York City’s gay community over the lack of news coverage of the gay rights movement since the Stonewall rebellion nearly three years before. When journalists and politicians gathered for the Fiftieth Annual Inner Circle dinner and comedy roast at the New York Hilton, members of the Gay Activists Alliance saw a perfect opportunity for a protest. But when they entered the ballroom during the intermission to distribute leaflets and briefly take the stage, they were thrown out. A fight ensued in the hallway, where, according to several city officials who witnessed the melee, Michael Maye, president of the city’s Uniformed Firefighters Association, threw twenty-one year old Morty Manford down an escalator, then kicked and stomped him. (Despite the numerous witnesses, Maye was later acquitted of the assault.)
Manford’s parents were outraged by the attack, and in April 29, Jeanne Manford’s letter appeared in the New York Post announcing her unquestioned support for her son:
A Fair Chance
I would like to commend The Post for its coverage last week of the tragic incident that took place at the Inner Circle dinner, when hoodlums who work for our city were allowed to beat up the young men of the Gay Activists Alliance and walk away while our police stood by watching. It might be that these “men” have themselves some deep rooted sexual problems or they would not have become so enraged as to commit violence in beatings.
I am proud of my son, Morty Manford, and the hard work he has been doing in urging homosexuals to accept their feelings and not let the bigots and sick people take advantage of them in the ways they have done in the past and are continuing to do.
I hope that your honest and forthright coverage of the incident has made many of the gays who have been fearful gain courage to come out and join the bandwagon. They are working for a fair chance at employment and dignity and to become a vocal and respected minority. It is a fight for recognition such as all minority groups must wage and needs support from outsiders as well as participants in the movements.
Two months later, Jeanne would walk alongside her son during the New York City Gay Pride Parade, carrying a hand-lettered sign that read, “Parents of Gays United in Support of Our Children.” She later recalled that as they walked along the parade route spectators cheered and “young people were hugging me, kissing me, screaming, asking if I would talk to their parents. Very few of them were out to their parents for fear of rejection.” That when Jeanne and her husband, Jules, got the idea of starting a local support group for parents of gays and lesbians. That support group grew to become the internationally-renowned Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), with 350 chapters more than 200,000 members in the U.S. Jeane Manford passed away last January at the age of 92.
(Source: the LGBT blog Box Turtle Bulletin)
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