In 1972, mother Jeanne Manford marched with her son Morty in New York’s Christopher Street Liberation Day March (the precursor of today’s Gay Pride parade) carrying a sign [pictured].
After many gay and lesbian people ran up to Jeanne during the parade and begged her to talk to their parents, she decided to begin a support group. The first formal meeting took place on March 26, 1973 at the Metropolitan-Duane Methodist Church in Greenwich Village. Approximately 20 people attended. A plaque at the church, now called the Church of the Village, marks the spot.
In the next years, through word of mouth and community need, similar groups sprang up around the country, offering “safe havens” and mutual support for parents with gay and lesbian children. In 1982, the Federation of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, Inc., then representing some 20 groups, was incorporated in California and granted non-profit, tax-exempt status.
The 80's: PFLAG Hartford's Beginnings
Helen and Bob Brill Co-founded PFLAG Hartford in 1981, and served as the first Co- Presidents until 1989. Long time civil rights activists for various human rights issues, they were active Quakers and held the first PFLAG Hartford meetings at the Quaker Meeting House in West Hartford, CT. The Helen and Bob Brill Scholarships are awarded annually by PFLAG Hartford and True Colors to deserving LGBT and ally students in honor of the Brill’s enormous contributions to PFLAG.
The 90's: Years of Growth
Bob Calvin served as President from 1989 to 1999 and, with his wife Marie, worked to grow the chapter and increase inclusion. Parents of three children, their daughter Kate inspired their activism in gay rights issues, and Bob and Marie developed and led an outstanding Board of Directors. They attended national and local conferences, Bob edited the chapter newsletter called Caring and they set the tone for support group meetings as membership grew.
A New Century: Activism and Victories
John and Becky Glezen served as PFLAG Hartford Co-Presidents from 1999 to 2013. Parents of three children, they were initially inspired by their daughter Sharon. They worked tirelessly in multiple areas of LGBT civil rights reform. They spoke out to faith communities to support “open and affirming” congregations, and lobbied lawmakers on issues of gay-parent adoptions, civil unions, military policy, gender non-discrimination reform, full transgender rights recognition, and same-sex marriage equality. PFLAG Hartford continued to thrive under the leadership of the Glezens and a long-serving treasurer, Joan Jansen, and newsletter editor Jean Cormier.
2014 - Today: Expanded Inclusiveness
In 2014, the national organization officially changed its name from “Parents, and Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays” to simply: PFLAG. The mission and vision of the organization were also updated to reflect PFLAG’s decades of inclusive work with parents and families of trans, non-binary, and gender non-conforming people, as well as with LGBTQ+ folks themselves. PFLAG National has grown to over 250,000 members and supporters, with close to 400 chapters across all 50 states.
PFLAG Hartford has been on the cutting edge of this national trend, and today it is a robust chapter led by a talented, all-volunteer board committed to PFLAG’s mission of support, education, and advocacy. Our board reflects the diversity of the LGBTQ+ community alongside family members and friends that love them.