Frances Goldin represents major #lifegoals: The 92-year-old literary agent, mother, and activist has carried the same pride parade sign for 30 years. She’s become a staple of New York City Pride, attending almost every year for decades and bearing a sign that reads, “I adore my lesbian daughters. Keep them safe." Unsurprisingly, photos of Goldin with her trademark sign have been popular on Tumblr and other social media platforms, and she’s become a beacon of parental support for LGBT people.
Although it’s not clear when Goldin, a literary agent in New York, attended her first pride event, she told BuzzFeed News that she’s been going “since the beginning.” She has two daughters, Reeni and Sally, who came out as lesbians in 1970, not long after New York City’s inaugural pride parade. Goldin’s sign was made by a friend of hers; originally, it simply said, “I adore my lesbian daughters,” and featured a purple heart. (Most photos of Goldin at pride show her dressed in purple, too.) She added the second part — “Keep them safe” — in 1993 for the LGBT March on Washington, attended by close to a million protesters. “Since the beginning of the parade, I’ve been going and waving my sign,” Goldin told BuzzFeed. “It sort of hit a nerve with people, particularly those whose parents rejected them. The response to the sign is always so great — it urges me to keep going.”
Goldin’s daughters now live in San Francisco and New Paltz, New York, but she continues to attend NYC Pride, and when her daughters haven’t been able to go with her, she’s taken other LGBT women under her wing. “Whoever came with me, they were my daughters,” she said. Goldin's daughter Reeni told BuzzFeed, “My friends, young women who she knew, they would go along with her. They would be her daughters. People would ask, ‘Are these your daughters?’ She would say yes! They clearly weren’t, but she would make them hers.”
Here she is in 2013:
Goldin has gone above and beyond what most would expect of a strong ally. She’s even gone so far as to contact other mothers on behalf of their LGBT children. At pride events, she’s had people come up to her and ask her to help them with their own, less supportive parents. “She’d take down names and addresses and write letters to these kids’ mothers!” Reeni recalled. “She’s very extroverted. She loves the spotlight and she wears it well.”
“I think I changed a few people’s minds and I’m glad about that,” Goldin said of her outreach to other parents. “Everyone should support their gay and lesbian children, they’re missing a lot in life if they don’t.”
Goldin is a lifelong activist. In 2011, at the age of 87, she participated in Occupy Wall Street, carrying a sign with the message, “I’m 87 and mad as hell.” She takes pride in her multiple arrests while protesting, telling NBC New York, “I've been arrested nine times for civil disobedience; I want to be arrested 12 times.” She lamented of her Occupy Wall Street experience, “I was sure I'd be arrested today, but the cops were determined because of the bad publicity for them, to not arrest an 87-year-old woman.” Goldin is committed to her beliefs; her daughter, Reeni, told BuzzFeed, “She really puts her money where her mouth is. She works for it. That’s her life. That’s just who she is.”
While attending the pride parade in 1997, Goldin told The Washington Post, “Difference enriches us all.” Um, can we get that on a billboard? Or maybe a tattoo? Because that’s something we all need to hear, probably every day.
Goldin hopes to carry her sign again at NYC Pride next year. If she’s there, you can find her at her usual spot, on the Northeast corner of 18th Street and 5th Avenue.