Chairman Crowley, USPS Hold Dedication Ceremony to Rename Jackson Heights Post Office After Late LGBT Rights Advocates Jeanne and Jules Manford
(Queens, NY) – On Saturday, May 20, Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Queens, the Bronx), Chairman of the Democratic Caucus, and Flushing Postmaster John Lunghi held a dedication ceremony to name the post office located at 7802 37thAvenue in Jackson Heights in honor of Jeanne and Jules Manford - the late Queens residents and national heroes who fought for the advancement of equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans. Joining Crowley and Lunghi at the ceremony were NYC Council Member Daniel Dromm, NYS Assemblymembers Francisco Moya and Michael DenDekker, members of the Manford family, and LGBT rights advocates.
Jeanne, who alongside her husband Jules formed Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) after their openly gay son Morty was beaten for protesting news coverage of the gay rights movement in 1972, served as the original grand marshal of the Queens LGBT Pride Parade which Dromm founded in 1993.
“As we get ready to celebrate Pride Month, our community can have no better honor than to have our local post office bear the names of Jeanne and Jules Manford,” said Rep. Crowley. “They are two individuals who, in the face of hate and discrimination, were inspired to start a movement rooted in love and acceptance. With their spirit of community involvement, Jeanne and Jules wanted to help others like them – friends, neighbors, and colleagues – to better understand and support their LGBT children. Today, their incredible legacy is evident more than ever as their spirits live on through the countless families they touched and through our own LGBT pride parade which brings our family, friends and neighbors together to celebrate our diversity.”
“All those who enter the 'Jeanne and Jules Manford Post Office' will be reminded of the Manfords' commitment to the all-American values of equality and inclusion,” said Senator Charles E. Schumer. “Time and again, Jeanne and Jules Manford proved not only their love and acceptance toward their openly-gay son, Morty, but also their love and acceptance of the entire LGBT community in New York and across the country. I am proud to have sponsored legislation that made this day possible, as it rightfully honors the Manfords' groundbreaking advocacy, love and leadership.”
“The Jeanne and Jules Manford Post Office celebrates the extraordinary achievements of two great New Yorkers who loved this city and cared about all of its people,” Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. “Jeanne and Jules Manford were pioneers in the fight for LGBT rights because of the discrimination and violence their own son faced, and they were deeply committed to achieving equality for all Americans. I was proud to fight for this post office’s new name, and I will continue to do everything I can in the Senate to protect the civil rights and human rights of all Americans.”
“In the tradition of Queens, ordinary people become extraordinary. Mom and Dad were born in Queens and spent most of their lives there. Mom taught elementary school in Flushing, Dad was a dentist in Queens. They both worked in community groups to make Queens a better place to live,” said daughter Suzanne Manford Swan. “My parents were in the earliest gay pride marches supporting their son and his friends. After Jeanne and Jules started Parents of Gays - predecessor to PFLAG – in Manhattan, they helped to start a chapter in Queens. Jeanne and Jules wanted to help friends and neighbors in Queens to understand and support their children while experiencing great stress at a time when attitudes towards sexual orientation were changing. My parents were unassuming people who wanted to help others; I'm sure they would have been thrilled to know of this honor.”
"This post office naming is a fitting tribute to Jeanne and Jules Manford, two leading lights in the history of the LGBT rights movement," said openly-gay NYC Council Member Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights, Elmhurst). "Jeanne and Jules nurtured the movement and allowed their home to be used as the cradle for gay liberation. They will forever be known for publicly supporting their openly gay son Morty Manford at a time when most parents rejected their LGBT children. Jeanne continued to fight for LGBT rights even after Jules passed away and was the first grand marshal of the Queens LGBT Pride Parade in 1993 here in Jackson Heights. I am so proud to have been a close friend of the Manford family and thank Congressman Joe Crowley for making this day possible. May this naming encourage all New Yorkers to follow the Manford's example of standing up for equality.”
"Jeanne and Jules Manford's legacy is one of bravery and love, love for their son and for all people in the LGBTQ community who have shared his struggle,” said Assemblymember Francisco Moya. “Their advocacy paved the way for an America where being gay doesn't prohibit you from serving in the military, from marrying, or from adopting a child. Their work fighting for LGBTQ rights and equality allowed Jackson Heights to become a home for the LGBTQ community, and I thank Congressman Crowley for his leadership in renaming our Post office in their honor, commemorating their massive contributions."
“I am so happy and proud that the Jackson Heights Post Office will officially be renamed the Jeanne and Jules Manford Post Office, and the Manford’s legacy will be honored here in Queens,” said Assemblymember Michael DenDekker (D-East Elmhurst). “The Manfords were fierce allies on behalf of the LGBT community, and worked hard to create a support systems for countless American families. Their activism and commitment to human rights is something we should all aspire to, and their commitment to creating a more loving world is inspiring to this day. Jeanne Manford was a native daughter of Queens and an example of the values that this borough holds dear: those of diversity, acceptance, and love for all of our neighbors. It is only fitting that we celebrate the Manfords here in Queens, and this post office will serve as a reminder every day of the great work that they did. I would like to thank Congressman Crowley for making the Jeanne and Jules Manford Post Office a reality, and would like to thank the Manford family for all of their amazing work.”
The Manfords formed PFLAG to promote the rights, health, and well-being of LGBT persons, as well as their families and friends. Today, the organization has expanded to include more than 350 chapters and over 200,000 members in all 50 states. It has become a positive and influential voice calling for an end to discrimination and the attainment of equality.
"Thank you to Congressman Crowley for his leadership on this tribute to the founding family of PFLAG,” said Elizabeth Kohm, PFLAG National Interim Executive Director. “Just like the Congressman, I am proud of my kids' Queens roots, because being from Queens means you place a high value on family. The Manford's public support of their gay son meant something 45 years ago and that pride still means something today. How fitting that as people gather for Queens Pride they will see this beautiful reminder of all that the Manford family stood for and started, and then literally follow in the Manford's footsteps as they themselves march for LGBTQ equality."
“This plaque will be a reminder of the great work the Manfords did,” said Queens Lesbian & Gay Pride Committee Executive Director Bill Meehan. “They loved their son unconditionally, fought for him, spoke out for him, and supported him. There are still parents who refuse to accept their gay sons and daughters. Many of them are living pained lives because of this rejection. Many of them are homeless because of this rejection. Like the Manfords, we need to open our hearts, our mouths, and our homes to offer the acceptance, the respect and the love denied them by their families.”
In 2014, Crowley announced the introduction of a House resolution honoring the life and work of Jeanne Manford, who passed away on January 8, 2013, at the age of 92.