Founded in Greenwich Village in 1973, PFLAG (formerly Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2023. PFLAG calls Itself “the nation’s largest organization dedicated to supporting, educating, and advocating for LGBTQ+ people and those who love them.”

The first meeting of what would become the group took place in 1973 in the Church of the Village, at 13th Street and 7th Avenue. That followed founder Jeanne Morton marching in the 1972 Christopher Street Liberation Day Parade (the forerunner of today’s annual LGBTQ+ Pride March) with her son, gay activist Morty Manford, holding a sign which said “Parents of Gays: Unite in Support of Our Children.” 

We are celebrating this anniversary with a free community event at the location where this first meeting took place, what is now The Church in the Village. Join us for a conversation about the history, impact, and legacy of this trailblazing organization. 

The idea for PFLAG arose in a discussion after a symposium sponsored by the “Homosexual Community Counseling Center” on January 22, 1973. After the symposium, Jeanne and Morty Manford, Roy Byrd (pseudonym of a young Gay mental health counselor), his parents, and Rev. Edward Egan of Metropolitan Duane United Methodist Church (MDUMC) gathered for an informal conversation. As Ed Egan wrote later, “We sensed the need for an ongoing work with, by and for parents of Gays. We agreed to meet at MDUMC (now The Church of the Billage) on Sunday afternoon, March 31, 1973, open as to where we would go from there.” Rev. Egan attended every monthly meeting of “Parents of Gays” (later PFLAG). for the next four years, while he was at MDUMC. A half dozen members of the MDUMC also attended the early meetings of PFLAG. The church publicized PFLAG meetings in the church bulletin and sometimes on the marquee on 7th Avenue. Ed Egan was already a long-time leader of the struggle for the rights and well-being of Gays and Lesbians since the mid-1950s, having served as a board member of the New York Mattachine Society and a spiritual counselor for the Daughters of Bilitis. 

The power of PFLAG was born from the unified front of the family of Morty and Jeanne Manford. It is the unified front of LGBTQ+ people, parents, families, and non-family allies that continues to fuel PFLAG 50 years later.

From Jeanne Manford’s daughter, we remember the importance of the founding of this organization and are inspired to continue to support our LGBTQ+ community and their families: “Jeanne Manford was my beloved mom, but she is also known as the Mother of the ally movement for LGBTQ+ equality — and a mother’s love, and determination, can change the world. ” – SUZANNE MANFORD SWAN

Clark Wolff Hamel (he/him) works as PFLAG NYC’s Manager of Educational Programs, implementing and expanding LGBTQ+ education and support in New York City schools for teachers, administrators, students, and families. He is so proud to be part of the PFLAG family. He works at individual schools throughout the city, and at district, borough, and citywide levels. He also works creating and sharing educational content on LGBTQ issues at colleges and universities, hospitals, doctor’s offices and community health centers, at the corporate level, and more. He also helps facilitate PFLAG NYC’s General Meetings and TransFamilies Project. He has helped plan multiple citywide events for youth and adults as well as multiple LGBTQ+ focused conferences, and has served on the boards of two transgender healthcare groups. He holds an MA in Human Rights from CUNY John Jay College, and a BA in Sociology from Bard College.

Rev. Jeff Wells (he/him) is the lead pastor of the Church of the Village, a progressive, radically inclusive, and anti-racist community in Greenwich Village, Manhattan. In 2022, he helped found and co-chaired the Living Earth Movement. He co-authored, with theologian and environmentalist, John B. Cobb Jr., the book, Is International Cooperation Possible? A Bold Appeal for a Living Earth (2022).

Jeff has fought for “Gay liberation” his entire adult life. He has worked for the full inclusion and celebration of LGBTQ+ persons in the United Methodist Church for over 20 years. He is a lifelong passionate advocate for social and economic justice and for the common thriving of humans and other-than-human beings. He is now a co-convenor of the Alliance for Ecological Civilization (affiliated with the Institute for Eco-Civ). Also, Jeff is a committed proponent of process-relational theology and practice.

Thursday, June 22, 2023
6:00 pm

Celebrating PFLAG: 50 Years of Creating a Caring, Just, and Affirming World for LGBTQ+ People and Those Who Love Them

Thursday, June 22, 2023

6:00pm – 7:15 pm



Pre-registration required

Location: The Church of the Village,  201 W 13th St, New York, NY 10011

Join the livestream here: 

Click here to watch the recording of this program.