2014-04-30 / Front Page

Dromm Joins Community In Co-Naming Street For Pioneering LGBT Rights Family

Councilmember Daniel Dromm, center of sign, and Councilmember Paul Vallone, left with sign, were joined by Manford family members and many former and current elected officials to co-name 171st Street and 35th Avenue Jeanne, Jules, Morty Manford PFLAG Way on Saturday.
Councilmember Daniel Dromm, center of sign, and Councilmember Paul Vallone, left with sign, were joined by Manford family members and many former and current elected officials to co-name 171st Street and 35th Avenue Jeanne, Jules, Morty Manford PFLAG Way on Saturday. Councilmember Daniel Dromm and Councilmember Paul Vallone co-named the corner of 171st Street and 35th Ave. in Flushing “Jeanne, Jules, Morty Manford PFLAG Way.” 

This was done in recognition of the tremendous accomplishments the Manford family made to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights movement on a national level. The Manford home is considered the cradle of the gay rights movement – a fact recognized when President Barack Obama awarded Jeanne Manford a Presidential Citizens Medal in 2013.  The elected officials were joined by family member, Suzanne Swan, members of the organization - Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) and members of the community
 
In 1972, Jeanne Manford broke ground when she marched with her gay son, Morty, in the New York City Pride March. She was the first parent to publicly support a gay child.  Later, Jeanne and her husband Jules Manford founded a support group for parents of gays and lesbians. This turned into a national organization called Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), a movement that now has more than 350 chapters and 200,000 members worldwide.  Jeanne passed away in January 2013.
 
“The Manfords stood up for true family values of love and acceptance,” said Council Member Dromm. “I am proud to have known such a courageous family and to have worked closely with Jeanne and Morty. My hope is this co-naming will not only honor the Manfords, but encourage all New Yorkers to stand up for equality.”
 
“I am proud to stand with Councilmember Dromm as we honor the memory of Jeanne, Jules and Morty Manford,” said Councilmember Vallone. “Their pioneering efforts in establishing PFLAG and the Gay Activists Alliance, as well as their activism and charity, speak volumes about their character. May this street forever remain a testament to their legacy and a reminder to the value we place on equal rights.”
 
“I am very pleased that this street is being co-named in honor of Jeanne, Jules and Morty Manford,” said Queens Borough President Melinda Katz. “I commend City Council members Daniel Dromm and Paul Vallone for co-sponsoring today’s event and for spearheading the effort to provide this very fitting and well-deserved tribute to the Manford family and PFLAG.”
 
Morty Manford was a gay rights pioneer.  He was a founding member of the Gay Activists Alliance and served as its third president.  Morty, as a young gay rights advocate, was a central figure in the 1972 indictment and trial of Michael Maye, then president of the city's Uniformed Firefighters Association. Morty accused Maye of assaulting him at a gay-rights protest at an Inner Circle benefit.  When Jeanne heard that Morty had been assaulted she wrote a letter to the NY Post supporting her son. This support was unheard of at the time.  Later, Morty became a Legal Aid attorney, and a New York State Assistant Attorney General. Morty continued in the movement until his death from AIDS in 1992.
 
Jules made many television appearances with Jeanne and, often times, with Morty, too.  Jules was a dentist and he would fix many young, poor gay activists’ teeth for free.  He became fully involved in the struggle for gay rights until his death in 1982.
 
“My parents and Morty were the first link between the straight and the gay communities,” said Suzanne Swan, the daughter of Jules and Jeanne and Morty’s sister. “They were a pivotal force in the growth of the gay and lesbian rights movement.  It is important for the civil rights of all people of this nation and all nations of the world to to honor and acknowledge the differences of their citizens.  I am so proud of them.”

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