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Plaque To Mark Greenwich Village Church As Site Of First PFLAG Meeting

(credit: Thinkstock)

(credit: Thinkstock)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A plaque will mounted later this year to mark the historic Church of the Village as the site of the first meeting of the group PFLAG – in honor of the group’s late founder.

The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation unveiled the plaque last week during a memorial service for Jeanne Manford – founder of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. Manford in January at the age of 92.

On March 26, 1973, Manford held the first PFLAG meeting at the Church of the Village – then known as Duane United Methodist Church – at 201 W. 13th St. at Seventh Avenue.

The year before that meeting, her son, Morty Manford had been “punched, kicked, and thrown down an escalator during a gay rights protest at the New York City Hilton Hotel,” recalled a 2005 essay by Tom Owens of Tolerance.org. “Manford and her husband watched the attacks on the evening TV news, outraged that police officers appeared to ignore the assault.”

Later in 1972, Jeanne Manford marched with her son in the Christopher Street Liberation March – a precursor to the modern-day Gay Pride Parade – carrying a sign reading, “Parents of Gays: Unite in Support for Our Children.” Many gay and lesbian people came up to Manford and begged her to talk to their own parents, according to the PFLAG Web site.

Thus, Manford decided to start the group for parents of gays and lesbians, and held the first meeting. About 20 people attended, PFLAG said.

Other PFLAG chapters sprouted up around the country during the 1970s, and the group, which is headquartered in Washington, D.C., now has more than 350 chapters and over 2000,000 members in the United States.

Jeanne Manford served as the grand marshal of the 1991 New York City Gay Pride March in 1991, and was the grand marshal of the first Gay Pride Parade in Queens two years later. President Barack Obama announced in February that Jeanne Manfrd would be a posthumous recipient of the 2012 Citizens Medal.

The plaque honoring Manford and PFLAG will be mounted on the exterior wall of the Church of the Village at an unspecified date later this year.

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