Jeanne Manford's march which sparked the PFLAG movement

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Jeanne Manford's march which sparked the PFLAG movement

Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbian and Gays celebrates 40 years

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Members of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays Rocky Mount met Jan. 29 to celebrate important milestones in their local and national history. The celebration focused on their organization’s movement to secure equal civil rights for LGBT persons.

The nation’s largest grassroots-based non-profit, Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays began 40 years ago when a courageous mother, Jeanne Manford, stepped onto the streets of New York to join her gay son in a march for equality.

Her call for parents to unite in support of their gay and lesbian children sparked meetings of parents in cities across the nation.

Manford, who died Jan. 6 of this year at age 92, was posthumously awarded the 2012 Presidential Citizens Medal by President Barack Obama at a White House ceremony on Feb. 15.

The history of the Rocky Mount chapter of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays began years later with regular monthly meetings of area parents in the late 1990s. The group officially incorporated in October 2007 with Lela Chesson as the chapter’s first president.

“I’m proud of the many ways in which our members, here and across our nation, are providing information that is changing hearts and minds,” Chesson said. “It’s very meaningful and inspiring to work with wonderful people who share our vision of a society that treats all citizens equally.”

Susan Ayers, the current president of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays Rocky Mount, cited the growing support that the local chapter has received from its straight allies. “The voices of our straight friends, including those from communities of faith, are providing a powerful push for acceptance and equality,” Ayers said. “We greatly appreciate their understanding and support.”

Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays Rocky Mount meets the third Tuesday of each month. Persons interested in the chapter’s meetings and activities may call 252-443-0345, email pflagrm@aol.com or visit www.pflag.org.