Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

PFLAG Founder, Our Mother, Jeanne Manford Dies at 92

Jeanne Manford (1920 - 2013), proudly cradling the photo of her gay son, Monty.

Jeanne Manford (1920 – 2013), proudly cradling the photo of her gay son, Monty.

Washington, D.C. – The founder of PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), Jeanne Manford, has died at the age of 92.  She was a Giant whose influence for healing and hope among queer folk and their families is incalculable.  Tributes are pouring in from all over the world, led by this one issued by PFLAG Executive Director, Judy Huckaby, which we quote here in its entirety:

“Today the world has lost a pioneer: Jeanne Manford, the founder of PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) and the Mother of the Straight Ally movement.
 
“Jeanne was one of the fiercest fighters in the battle for acceptance and equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. It is truly humbling to imagine in 1972 – just 40 years ago – a simple schoolteacher started this movement of family and ally support, without benefit of any of the technology that today makes a grassroots movement so easy to organize. No Internet. No cellphones. Just a deep love for her son and a sign reading “Parents of Gays: Unite in Support for Our Children.”
 
“This simple and powerful message of love and acceptance from one person resonated so strongly it was heard by millions of people worldwide and led to the founding of PFLAG, an organization with more than 350 chapters across the U.S. and 200,000 members and supporters, and the creation of similar organizations across the globe.
 
“Jeanne’s work was called ‘the story of America…of ordinary citizens organizing, agitating, educating for change, of hope stronger than hate, of love more powerful than any insult or injury,’ in a speech by President Barack Obama in 2009.
 
“All of us – people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and straight allies alike – owe Jeanne our gratitude. We are all beneficiaries of her courage. Jeanne Manford proved the power of a single person to transform the world. She paved the way for us to speak out for what is right, uniting the unique parent, family, and ally voice with the voice of LGBT people everywhere.”
Jeanne Manford’s world changed the day in 1972 when she saw her gay activist son, Monty Manford, brutally attacked at a Gay Activist Alliance (GAA) Rally.  The police refused to intervene.  In her sorrow and outrage, Mrs. Manford wrote letters to the New York Post, penning the now famous words, “I have a homosexual and I love him.”  With uncommon courage, in a hostile context we have largely forgotten once existed, her mother-love acted to defend and empower her child, and all the children of difference who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer. She founded Parents of Gays (POG), the parent organization of we know now as PFLAG.
Through decades of harsh heartbreak, Mrs. Manford comforted the parents and friends of the queer community, fired their children with the grace and fire to live everyday of their lives as the beloved creations of God they were born to be, and challenged the systems and structures of oppression.  Because of her efforts, the world we know experiences less hostility and discrimination than the one she and Monty knew all too well.  In too many ways for us to count, Jeanne Manford was the Mother of us all.
Fr. James Martin, SJ, moved by the news of her passing, wrote his Evening Meditation as a tribute to her today. He concludes it with a heartfelt benediction and blessing upon the work, soul, and life of this great, prophetic spirit.  His words serve as ours tonight:  “May Jeanne Manford rest in peace, and may we always love prophetically, recklessly, prodigally, dangerously, eternally.”  Amen.  Mother of us all, rest well.

January 8, 2013 Posted by | GLBTQ, Jeanne Manford, LGBTQ, PFLAG, Remembrances, Social Justice Advocacy, Washington, D.C. | , , , , , , | Comments Off on PFLAG Founder, Our Mother, Jeanne Manford Dies at 92

Gay, Black Classmates Targeted in White Power Teen’s Bomb Plot

Derek Shrout, 17, alleged hate crime bomb plotter, escorted from Russell County Court on Monday (Ledger-Enquirer image).

Derek Shrout, 17, alleged hate crime bomb plotter, escorted from Russell County Court on Monday (Ledger-Enquirer image).

Seale, Alabama – Eastern Alabama police announce that a hate crime bomb plot targeting gay and black classmates of a 17-year-old white supremacist has been foiled in Russell County.

Authorities arrested Derek Shrout, a self-proclaimed white power advocate,  last Friday, responding swiftly to threats to bomb Russell County High School written in Shrout’s own personal journal.  The journal, carelessly left behind in a classroom by Shrout, fell into the hands of a teacher, who rushed the document into the hands of police investigators. According to WTVM-TV, Shrout threatened in his journal to harm six students and one teacher, citing hatred of blacks and gays as his motive.  Russell County Sheriff Heath Taylor told reporters, “The journal contained several plans that looked like potential terrorist attacks, and attacks of violence and danger on the school.” Five of the students Shrout specifically named were black.  Shrout believed the sixth student he named was gay, also a class of persons the 17-year-old professed to hate.

Sheriff Taylor said that the mass killings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut were an inciting factor in Shrout’s intention to bomb the high school. The first entry showing the student’s intent to attack his school is on December 17, only three days after the horrific Sandy Hook massacre. Fox News reports that law enforcement officers discovered over 25 smokeless tobacco tins and two larger cans with holes drilled in them in Shrout’s rooms on Friday.  The tins were filled with pellets, partially outfitted as homemade bombs and grenades.  One of the tins was labeled “Fat Man,” and another “Little Boy,” apparently in emulation of the atom bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II.  The improvised bombs were only “a step or two away from being ready to explode,” the Sheriff observed, going on to say that the quick thinking of school officials averted a horrible outcome. “The system worked and thank God, it did,” he said. “We avoided a very bad situation.”

In his own defense, Shrout claims that the entries in his journal were fictions, and that he never intended to harm classmates or the teacher.  He was held in custody on $75,000 bond on a felony charge of assault until a court appearance this Monday, when he made bail. The presiding judge released Shrout under the following conditions:  he must remain at home; wear a GPS locator bracelet on his ankle; refrain from initiating contact with anyone connected to the school; and be monitored by a parent while on the Internet.  A court date for the teen has been set for February 12.

Shrout planned to attack gay and black classmates at his high school (Russell County Sheriff's Office mugshot).

Shrout planned to attack gay and black classmates at his high school (Russell County Sheriff’s Office mugshot).

Shrout, who moved to Alabama from Kansas with his military family, had become well-known in Russell County High for his anti-gay and racist views.  Classmates noted that he and a circle of other white supremacist friends often espoused white power propaganda, and gave each other the Nazi salute. Senior Class President David Kelly is quoted in the Los Angeles Times as saying, “In the hallway, at breakfast, at the lunch tables, after school where we have our bus parking lot, he’d have his big old group of friends and they’d go around doing the whole white power crazy stuff.”

Authorities say that the teen was involved in neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups, and had learned bomb making from the internet.  Now his classmates are expressing anger and frustration at Shrout’s intended attack on their school.  David White, who used to hang out with Shrout after JROTC meetings, exclaimed to reporters, “Why would you want to go to a school and blow it up?  You know you’re going to hit somebody else; you’re not just going to, in particular, hit one person.  You’re going to injure more than one.”

January 8, 2013 Posted by | African Americans, Alabama, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Bombs and explosives, gay teens, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, LGBTQ, Neo-Nazis and White Supremacy, Racism | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

   

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