Have a Gay Day Founder Michael Knote Honored with Morty Manford Volunteerism Award
October 25, 2023
WASHINGTON—On Saturday, Oct. 21, Dayton, Ohio resident Michael Knote was honored with the PFLAG National “Morty Manford Volunteerism Award” at Learning with Love: The 2023 PFLAG National Convention. The award is given in recognition and appreciation of an LGBTQ+ person who serves the community as a committed, passionate volunteer.
“For more than a decade, Michael Knote has been the consummate model of an LGBTQ+ community leader as the founder of Have a Gay Day. He has put his heart and full volunteer might into uplifting the LGBTQ+ community through a project that began as a Facebook page—reaching more than 1.4 million people—and has grown to become an LGBTQ+ community center, food pantry and delivery service, and center for activism for LGBTQ+ people and allies. We are PFLAG-proud to honor Michael Knote with the Morty Manford Volunteerism Award,” said Brian K. Bond, Chief Executive Officer of PFLAG National.
Knote created Have A Gay Day in 2011 as an online space for people to not only find connection and support but to also spread cheer following the death of an LGBTQ+ teen. Through his volunteer leadership, he has grown the organization’s footprint, establishing it as a 501c3 nonprofit in 2016 and moving into a 3,400 square-foot LGBTQ+ community center in Dayton, Ohio that operates a food pantry, pet food pantry, and lending library. He has also organized community events, brought together volunteers to march for equality, assisted asylum seekers, provided emergency transportation for those in crisis in the U.S., and, prior to 2015, Knote also drove LGBTQ+ couples across state lines in order to wed in LGBTQ+ affirming states. He has done all of this, and maintained Have A Gay Day’s robust digital presence, as an unpaid volunteer.
“The greatest bridges of love and kindness are establishing resources that allow community members to live authentically and without additional hurdles in navigating existence,” said Michael Knote, founder of Have a Gay Day. “I am deeply honored to be the recipient of the PFLAG National Morty Manford Volunteerism Award.”
Morty Manford, the openly gay son of PFLAG founder Jeanne Manford, inspired his mother to LGBTQ+ activism and was a leading political organizer and activist in his own right. The Morty Manford Volunteerism Award is given in recognition and appreciation of a person who serves the LGBTQ+ community as a committed, passionate volunteer. People honored with this award are members of the LGBTQ+ community who go above and beyond in their volunteerism, leaning into PFLAG’s work to support, educate, and advocate for LGBTQ+ people and those who love them as they live their authentic lives as role models.
Knote has been honored for his humanitarian work with numerous local and national awards, including the 2021 Rubi Award from the Greater Dayton LGBTQ HER/HIStory Project, 2022 Humanitarian of the Year Award from the National Conference for Community and Justice, and 2022 Daray Lorez Community Activism Award. He has also twice won the national Give OUT Day funding initiative to benefit Have A Gay Day, and has been honored by PFLAG Dayton with two Community Collaboration Awards. In addition to his role as executive director of Have A Gay Day, Michael is a customer service representative for FedEx Office and is a caregiver for his parents. He lives in Dayton, Ohio.
In addition to the Morty Manford Volunteerism Award, four local PFLAG chapters were also honored with PFLAG National Chapter Awards at the “Learning with Love” convention. The awards honor the efforts of local chapters that have gone above and beyond in service of the mission and vision of this historic organization. This year’s theme, “Getting off the Curb: Expanding PFLAG’s Reach,” paid tribute to PFLAG’s visionary founder, Jeanne Manford, and her efforts to create lasting change through advocacy and support. The 2023 PFLAG National Chapter Award winners include PFLAG Fort Collins, Colo., PFLAG Georgetown, Texas, PFLAG Great Lakes Bay Region, Mich., and PFLAG Westminster-Carroll County, Md.
Learning with Love: The 2023 PFLAG National Convention took place from Oct. 19-22 in Arlington, Va. at the DoubleTree Crystal City. For four days, people from across the country and around the world heard from—and met with—prominent leaders, including elected and appointed officials, community leaders, and journalists. Plenaries and awards presentations, including the Morty Manford LGBTQ+ Volunteerism Award, as well as remarks by First Lady of the United States Jill Biden on Friday, Oct. 20 and Saturday Oct. 21 were streamed live and can be rewatched anytime on PFLAG’s YouTube and Facebook channels. Learn more at PFLAG.org/LearningWithLove.
Honoree Photos from Learning With Love: The 2023 PFLAG National Convention
Michael Knote Biography
Michael Knote, (he/him), Executive Director, Have A Gay Day
Michael Knote created Have A Gay Day in 2011 as an online space for people to not only find connection and support but to also spread cheer following the death of an LGBTQ+ teen. The new community raised $17,000 for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and from that point, the Have A Gay Day community grew. In 2016, Michael established Have A Gay Day as a nonprofit organization based in Dayton, Ohio with a mission to create a safe environment for the purpose of equality, education, and support of the LGBTQ+ community and its allies.
Under Michael’s direction, Have A Gay Day—which now hosts an office space, food pantry, pet food pantry, and lending library in its 3,400 square-foot community center—served food to over 7,000 households in the Greater Dayton in 2022, and is on pace to substantially surpass those numbers in 2023. The organization also offers an emergency housing program and, in partnership with DoorDash, manages deliveries of food and personal care items to people who cannot physically visit the food pantry themselves.
As the volunteer executive director of Have A Gay Day, Michael has organized community events and has brought together volunteers to march for equality, assist asylum seekers, provide emergency transportation for those in crisis in the U.S., and, prior to 2015, drive LGBTQ+ couples across state lines to wed in LGBTQ+ affirming states.
Michael maintains Have A Gay Day’s social media presence, which includes regular posts to more than 1.4 million Facebook followers and thousands of followers on Instagram, Threads, YouTube and X. In 2022, in response to a rash of local school board actions to discriminate against LGBTQ+ students and transgender students in particular, Michael launched a Have A Gay Day billboard campaign dedicated to broadcasting positive messages to LGBTQ+ individuals. In partnership with PFLAG National, Michael made sure that digital billboards in over 500 locations across the Midwest carried positive and LGBTQ+ affirming messages more than 1.7 million times.
Michael has been honored for his humanitarian work with numerous local and national awards, including the 2021 Rubi Award from the Greater Dayton LGBTQ HER/HIStory Project, 2022 Humanitarian of the Year Award from the National Conference for Community and Justice, and 2022 Daray Lorez Community Activism Award. He has also twice won the national Give OUT Day funding initiative to benefit Have A Gay Day, and has been honored by PFLAG Dayton with two Community Collaboration Awards.
All this work is accomplished on an unpaid volunteer basis. In addition to his role as executive director of Have A Gay Day, Michael is a customer service representative for FedEx Office and is a caregiver for his parents. He lives in Dayton, Ohio.
PFLAG National Chapter Award Honoree PFLAG Fort Collins, Colo.
PFLAG Fort Collins is a thriving chapter that offers a diverse array of events and programming to support, educate, and advocate for LGBTQ+ people and those who love them. They have regular support meetings, as well as monthly events, including participating in Colorado Lobby Day at the state capitol, educational panels such as “Figuring It Out/Trans 101” for parents and allies of transgender people, and a Mental Health Matters event with a local school district.
In addition to their continuing support groups for LGBTQ+ people, parents, families, and allies, they also have a sub-group called TRANSforming Families, specifically for parents, families, and allies with transgender loved ones. All of their important work has been made possible through highly successful fundraising efforts; a significant expansion of chapter visibility thanks to their newly branded and updated website; and an incredibly successful membership drive plan, leading to a 700 percent increase in membership.
Click here to watch PFLAG Fort Collins President Reggie Johnson’s acceptance speech, with introduction by PFLAG National Board Chair Susan Thronson. Learn more at PFLAGFortCollins.org.
PFLAG National Chapter Award Honoree PFLAG Georgetown, Texas
PFLAG Georgetown was established as a new chapter in 2023 and provides much-needed support and visibility for LGBTQ+ people and families where little to none existed previously. Their activities have been diverse and robust: from establishing a monthly support group meeting in the local library to welcoming guest speakers on legislative advocacy. The chapter introduced a second monthly support group meeting specifically for families with trans kids; due to the climate they cannot advertise the meetings, but word-of-mouth has spread quickly. The chapter also holds LGBTQ+ book club meetings at a local bookstore.
Click here to watch PFLAG Georgetown President Jo Iverson’s acceptance speech, with introduction by Brian K. Bond, CEO of PFLAG National. Learn more at PFLAGgtx.org.
PFLAG National Chapter Award Honoree PFLAG Great Lakes Bay Region, Mich.
PFLAG Great Lakes Bay Region was honored for its efforts to grow the chapter’s presence through partnerships, outreach, and educational events. They did this work very intentionally in 2023 by launching a community partnership program to facilitate the referral of individuals and families for PFLAG support. It started in February 2023 with the convening of organizations that included counseling agencies, colleges and universities, school systems, hospitals, shelters, churches, domestic violence shelters, and child services. In this community meeting, the organizations learned more about each other’s work and histories, and discussed ways they could collaborate and formalize relationships to mutually refer people for needed services. As a result of this meeting, the chapter now has 16 community partners and has secured office space for the first time in its 33-year history at a local welcoming and affirming Methodist Church.
Learn more at PFLAGglb.org.
PFLAG National Chapter Award Honoree PFLAG Westminster-Carroll County, Md.
PFLAG Westminster-Carroll County had a milestone achievement in 2023: opening a Unity Center in the UCC church where they hold their meetings. When the church found itself with a space no longer being used by the local social services offered, members of the chapter’s steering committee, together with the pastor and the church council, decided to open an LGBTQ+ center in their community: the PFLAG Unity Center.
The Unity Center houses all of the PFLAG programming, including a newly formed trans/genderqueer adult support group. The chapter has also expanded its safe-space groups to include a monthly high school youth group, young adult group (18+), and a middle school youth group.
Learn more at PFLAGwcc.org.
PFLAG is an organization of LGBTQ+ people, parents, families, and allies who work together to create an equitable and inclusive world. We are hundreds of thousands of people and hundreds of chapters from coast to coast who are leading with love to support families, educate allies, and advocate for just, equitable, and inclusive legislation and policies. Since our founding in 1973, PFLAG works every day to ensure LGBTQ+ people everywhere are safe, celebrated, empowered and loved. Learn more, find support, donate, and take action at PFLAG.org.
Laura McGinnis (she/her),
Sr. Manager, Press and Public Relations
[email protected] | (202) 864-2247