In 1972, Morton Manford was physically attacked at a gay rights demonstration in New York. Morty’s parents, Jeanne and Jules Manford, saw the attack on a local newscast and witnessed the failure of the police to intervene. Their outrage turned them into activists.
The concept of PFLAG began in 1972 when Jeanne Manford marched with her gay son in New York’s Pride Day parade. After many gay men and lesbians ran up to Jeanne during the parade and begged her to talk to their parents, Jeanne decided to begin a support group. Approximately 20 people attended the first formal meeting held in March 1973 at a local church.
In the next years, through word of mouth and in response to community need, similar groups sprung up around the country, offering “safe havens” and mutual support for parents with gay and lesbian children. Following the 1979 National March for Gay and Lesbian Rights, representatives from these support groups met for the first time in Washington, DC. In 1981, members decided to launch a national organization. Today many countries across the world have their own branches of PFLAG, providing support to their local communities.
Mrs. Jean Manford marching with her son, Morton Manford
South Africa and PFLAG.
People in South Africa also saw the need for a parental support and safe place. Based in Amanzimtoti, and serving the Durban area, this group has been re-named “Same Love Toti” and caters to the needs of parents with LGBT children, and their LGBT sons and daughters too with monthly meetings, face-to-face peer counselling and an online presence. Same Love Toti also works in schools, preventing suicide, addressing anti-LGBTI bullying, raising awareness, providing educational material and giving talks to teachers and students to better inform all concerned. They are also available to do speaking engagements, presentations, sensitivity training and workshops for other interested groups and businesses.
For those outside of the Durban area, PFLAG can assist you via email or phone calls. You will have someone to talk to, and you can be supplied with relevant information and documents digitally.