15 December 2014
White line woodcut
Image size: 12" x 18" (30.5 x 45.7 cm)
Paper size: 14.5" x 20.5" (37 x 52.4 cm)
Part of a series of prints based on the shape of a triangle celebrating various organizations that helped move gay rights forward in the U.S. during the later 20th century.
PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) is the United States' largest organization for parents, families, friends, and allies of LGBTQ people. The group began in April 1972 when Queens schoolteacher Jeanne Manford walked alongside her gay son at the Christopher Street Liberation Day Parade, carrying a sign that read "Parents of Gays: Unite in Support of Our Children." So much has changed since the 1970s, it's difficult to convey how much courage and resolve Manford's simple act of marching beside her son displayed. The overwhelming response to that act led Jeanne, her husband Jules, and early pioneers of the LGBT equality movement to create a support group for members of the LGBT community, their parents, family, and friends.
The first time I encountered PFLAG was at the First National March on Washington in 1979. As we walked the route, a number of people lined the streets. I saw marchers who had stepped aside to see the size of the contingent and cheer us on, men in suits taking photographs (we assumed them to be government agents of some sort), religious counter-demonstrators holding signs condemning us to hell. And then I saw a lone woman holding a hand-made sign: "I'm proud of my gay child." Tears sprang to my eyes, and I unconsciously took a step toward her. She spotted me right away and moved toward me, and we hugged. It was a moment of healing and connection and possibility that I'll never forget.
Thank you, PFLAG, for holding us.