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

Unfinished Lives: It Gets Better Videos

Unfinished Lives Project would like to recognize author Dan Savage for founding the It Gets Better Project (http://www.youtube.com/itgetsbetterproject) in response to the tragic increase in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender teen suicides.  The point of this project is for people to upload videos to let these teens know that, yes, it does get better.

And here at Unfinished Lives, we are cognizant of the fact that part of this “better” is not just social love and acceptance, but spiritual love and acceptance.  To help meet this need, a group of Brite Divinity School students and faculty have recorded their own messages of hope for the It Gets Better Project:

Dr. Steve Sprinkle: Director of Field Education at Brite Divinity School

Sam Castleberry: Student at Brite Divinity School

Egon Cohen: Student at Brite Divinity School

DeSorrow: Student at Brite Divinity School

The Brite Student It Gets Better channel hopes to have more videos shortly. We would also like to encourage any and all LGBTQ faculty, staff, and students in graduate theological education to record videos and to let GLBTQ youth know that it does get better and faith can help not hinder the process. Also anyone else who wishes to record a video should do so as well. For more information on LGBTQ suicide prevention see The Trevor Project

In the meantime, please spread the word, and vote for your favorite video by sending an email with the video link as the subject line (just the link) to: IGBP@savagelove.net.

October 2, 2010 Posted by | ACLU, African Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Bisexual persons, Blame the victim, Bullying in schools, Domestic Violence, gay men, gay teens, harassment, Hate Crimes, hate crimes prevention, hate speech, Heterosexism and homophobia, Human Rights Campaign, Law and Order, Lesbian women, LGBT teen suicide prevention, LGBTQ suicide, National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP), National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, PFLAG, Social Justice Advocacy, Special Comments, suicide, transgender persons | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Lesbian Couple’s Home Burned In Hate Crime

Vonore, Tennessee – The home of a Monroe County, Tennessee lesbian couple was burned to the ground and their garage defaced by anti-gay graffiti in what is believed to be a hate crime. On Saturday, September 4, the house was set ablaze, and the word “Queer” was spray painted on two sides of the family garage, which was left standing.  WATE, Channel 6, Knoxville reports that the couple, Carol and Laura Stutte, had been threatened in August by a neighbor who said he was going to burn their house down because they were lesbian.  He also threatened their lives, according to Stutte.  They reported the threat to the police, but there is no report as to the status of the complaint at this time.  The couple, who have been together 15 years, moved to Vonore from Oklahoma. The crime occurred while the Stutte’s were celebrating their fifth anniversary in Tennessee with friends in Nashville.  At present, the couple is in a safe house in Nashville while the investigation is going forward.  They have no plans to return to the property, and are staying away out of prudence and fear.  Other neighbors have defended the couple, saying that lesbians make good neighbors, and are welcome in Vonore. Members of the community, especially PFLAG of Maryville, and the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church are responding with funds and household goods, since the couple has lost everything.  As Becky Lucas, president of PFLAG Maryville said, “We are hopeful that the authorities will investigate it fully and that this couple will get justice. I think this happens every day to people in this community and many times they don’t speak up because they are afraid. Everybody deserves basic human rights.”  Lucas went on to say to reporters, “We want to send a message to this couple and other couples like them — you do have many allies in this area. Many people in the community are just as outraged as I am.” Care2.com reports that no determination has yet been made by local authorities about whether the incident will be classified an hate crime.  According to Care2, “Detective Travis Jones, with the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department, has confirmed that the department is investigating the arson with the aid of the state Bomb and Arson Squad, that there are ‘people of interest’ in the case.”  The lesbians say that they would like to remain in the area, but they would never rebuild on the same site.

September 13, 2010 Posted by | Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Arson, death threats, harassment, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, Lesbian women, PFLAG, Slurs and epithets, Tennessee, Unsolved LGBT Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

   

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