Founded in 1973, PFLAG is the first and largest organization dedicated to supporting, educating, and advocating for LGBTQ+ people and their families. PFLAG’s network of hundreds of chapters and more than 250,000 members and supporters works to create a caring, just, and affirming world for LGBTQ+ people and those who love them.
Big Change Begins with Small, Radical Acts of Love
If we chronicle the wins of the LGBTQ+ movement, it is hard to find a bigger one than this:
PFLAG Has Transformed Values and Practices for Raising LGBTQ+ children.
- In 1973, disownment of LGBTQ+ people was commonplace.
- Today, the gold-standard advocated by PFLAG parents and families—and set forth by pediatricians and therapists—is to accept and support LGBTQ+ people’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity and expression; parental rejection is widely understood to be abusive and damaging.
- In 1973, parents regularly subjected their children to therapies that included electroshock and traumatic residential and so-called “religious treatments.”
- Today, PFLAG’s local and statewide work to end discredited “conversion” therapies has been highly successful; we continue to build on that success.
- In 1973, schools expelled and punished LGBTQ+ students, turning a blind eye to bullying, discrimination, and harassment.
- Today, PFLAG parents continue to successfully advocate for the right to a fair and safe education for their LGBTQ+ kids. In fact, many school systems are pro-actively following PFLAG best practices for serving LGBTQ+ students, and often engaging chapters to provide training for teachers, administrators, and district leaders.
- In 1973, marriage equality was unimaginable.
- In 2015, PFLAG leaders provide critical leverage for local, statewide, and national wins on marriage, including a friend of the court brief to the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court in the case that won the nationwide freedom to marry.
- In 1973, hotels, health clinics, and shopkeepers regularly refused service to LGBTQ+ people.
- In 2018, PFLAG parent Debra Munn and her son Charlie took their case all the way to the Supreme Court in Charlie Craig v Masterpiece Cakeshop. On the steps of the Supreme Court, Debra said: “PFLAG saved our family 15 years ago. We wouldn’t be here without you.”
When PFLAG founder Jeanne Manford marched with her son Morty in the 1972 Christopher Street Liberation Day March, she was overwhelmed by the number of weeping, rejected LGBTQ young people who embraced her along the route, each of them begging her to speak with their own parents and families. Jeanne knew instinctively that the transformation of family values and practices was essential to healthy LGBTQ+ life, so she, her husband Jules, and a committed group of parents and LGBTQ+ activists (including her son, Morty) began the very first support group for parents of LGBTQ+ people in NYC. In the basement of the Church of the Village on March 11, 1973, PFLAG was born!
How did PFLAG create such massive change in family values and LGBTQ+ life in less than half a century?
One interaction at a time. One family at a time. One chapter at a time.
It is impossible to overstate the impact of one parent or family member listening to, seeking help from, and offering love and acceptance to another. In a culture steeped in denial about massive inequalities and the depression and hopelessness they engender, PFLAG creates tiny moments of truth and hope among people whose love for their LGBTQ+ family members and friends sometimes comes into conflict with established authorities in their lives—whether it be religious institutions, employers, or government actors including police, courts, or family services, educators, coaches, doctors, or extended family.
These moments of honesty, grief, acceptance, and love propel PFLAGers through seemingly impossible dilemmas and family fractures.
We cannot estimate the number of LGBTQ+ lives that have been saved through these exchanges in PFLAG meetings; we cannot count the legions of community leaders that have sprung into action. But just as Jeanne and her family knew 45 years ago, we know that these number in the tens of thousands. We know that seemingly “small” interactions catalyze monumental changes in our families, lives, communities, and institutions over time.
PFLAG love and acceptance saves LGBTQ+ lives.
PFLAG families grow resilient and empowered LGBTQ+ children.
PFLAG groups heal and re-connect families.
PFLAG passion powers life-long parent, family, and allied leaders in the struggle for fairness and equality.