A 93-year-old mother of two lesbians has been attending the New York City Pride march for nearly 50 years. And each year, she waves the same sign: “I Adore my Lesbian Daughters—Keep them safe.”
“Since the beginning of the parade, I’ve been going and waving my sign,” Frances Goldin, a lifelong New Yorker, told Buzzfeed in 2016. “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 says the the sign has a kind of “magic.”
“When I took it to the parade I was overwhelmed with gays and lesbians who ran to me, who kissed me, who asked me to call their mother,”
Her daughters, Sally and Reeni, came out to their parents shortly after New York’s first Pride march in 1970. The two—now 71 and 69, respectively—say their mother joined them the following year and has been at every one since (except the one years she was in the hospital with a heart attack).
“Everybody would come running up to her and cry, kiss her, and say, ‘Would you call my mother?’ or ‘Would you be my mother?’” says Sally. Frances made friends at every parade, “adopting” other queer kids rejected by their parents. She would sometimes even write letters to those parents.
“[My mother] believes in equality and fairness and what’s right,” added Reeni. “She really puts her money where her mouth is. She works for it. That’s her life. That’s just who she is.”
While her sign has captured public attention for years, Goldin reveals she didn’t make it—an old roommate, a former sign painter, created it.
“I don’t think I could have dreamed up the same wording that had as much emotional appeal to gays and lesbians as he did.” She did add her own embellishment: Goldin wrote “Keep Them Safe” in red a few years after she started going to the march, after seeing a rise in anti-gay violence .
“The following year, two people approached me. One was a cop in the NYPD and said we missed you last year,” she said smiling. “Oh my god, I was so amazed at that comment. It was very touching.”
Normally Goldin has her spot markd out to watch the parade, on the northwest corner of 18th Street and Fifth Avenue. But this year, for the first time ever, she was in the parade. Goldin and her daughter Reeni were in the lead float—her iconic sign held high.
— Caroline Eisenmann (@CarolineMEisen) June 25, 2017