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PFLAG celebrates 50 years of LGBTQ advocacy


Jeanne’s activism was boosted two months before she took part in the parade. Morty had protested against a meeting of a homophobic parody group and he was beaten by police officers who threw him into an escalator. When the police called Jeanne to tell her that Morty had been arrested, the officer added, “And you know he’s gay? This question was meant to humiliate Morty and alienate him from his mother.

“Yes, I know,” said Jeanne. “Why are you bothering him? »

Morty was hospitalized for several days. Two months later, he asked his mother to walk with him, and Jeanne replied that she would walk if she could carry a sign. Reflecting on her activism years later, Jeanne said she was motivated to do something because “I always thought Morty was a very special person. And I wasn’t going to let anyone walk on it.

A parent’s call to action

If coming out is an invitation to activism, David Holladay’s parents were there to answer the call.

“Fortunately for me, when David came out, I was at a big law firm in Oklahoma City. I was a partner at that law firm, so I didn’t have to shut up if I chose not to. do it,” said Don Holladay, David’s father.

But there was no clear path on how to proceed. “It was a pretty lonely landscape,” Don said. “Our greatest ally was the library.” They would discover PFLAG in a Dear Abby column.

The Holladay family at Oklahoma Pride.
Kay Holladay, center, at a Pride Parade in Norman, Oklahoma.Courtesy of PLFAG Norman

The Holladays formed a local PFLAG chapter in Norman, Oklahoma, in 1994. David’s mother, Kay, went back to school for a master’s degree in public education, ran for city council, and became a board member. administration of PFLAG. Don continued to advocate for LGBTQ people in his state and was the lead advocate in the fight to legalize same-sex marriage in Oklahoma.

“You can’t love someone like you love your kids and listen to rock throwers who don’t throw at you, but they throw at your kid and don’t do anything about it. It just doesn’t make sense” , said Don.

When Kay goes to Pride Marches, she always makes sure to bring her sign, a fitting evolution of the one Jeanne Manford proudly wore: “I love my gay son,” he says, “…and her husband”.

Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.