In honor of a Founder and Revolutionary
Hope (Berry) Manley July 22, 1969- June 21, 2018
With great sadness and shock, we share the news of the death of Hope (Berry) Manley, one of the founders of COLAGE, from heart failure related to a lung infection on June 21, 2018 in Columbus, OH. Hope was the daughter of a gay man and a lesbian, a “bothie.”
Her dad died of AIDS in 1989 and her lesbian mom ran an AIDS hospice care center for many years. She was a queer femme, a political junkie and activist, a mom to daughter Lila, a long-time ASL interpreter and active member of LGBT deaf communities, and a hub of the spokes of many communities.
In addition to her many years of outspoken activism related to LGBTQ families, she remained an ardent guardian of the legacy and institution of COLAGE for decades after leaving a formal leadership role. She served as an active advisor to each Executive Director, worked with many Boards of Directors, mentored and molded countless staff, board members, youth leaders, and interns.
Hope was the keeper of our institutional memory, history, and legend. Hope took her personal history and together with her fierce sense of justice and outrage and community sensibility helped transform to our nation’s concept of family.
In 1988 Hope attended a national conference in Boston of the Gay Father’s Coalition, a support and social organization for gay men raising children that would eventually expand to include lesbian moms and then to all lgbtq parents and today is known as the Family Equality Council. At the conference Hope joined a circle of children and young adults meeting concurrently to their parents to discuss their own experiences of living with a gay or lesbian parent.
The setting was intimate, emotional, caring and supportive. It was a place for the young people to talk, often for the first time, about their experiences navigating homophobia, anti-gay hostility in schools and extended family, coming out to friends about having gay parents, coming out themselves. Hope jumped in with two feet, immediately becoming as much peer advisor and counselor as participant. She continued to attend the national conferences and in 1990, together with Ali Dubin in Los Angeles, took the local group of kids with gay fathers called Just for Us to a national model.
They formed Just for Us chapters in cities across the country, parallel to national chapters of what had become GLPCI (Gay and Lesbian Parents Coalition International) and created a national steering committee of youth leaders. The Just For Us steering committee began meeting by phone and in person to plan the youth programming for conferences and to plan local activities.
Hope’s activism and political outrage pushed the work of Just for Us beyond the boundaries of support and socializing. She began speaking out against homophobia and in support of lgbt parenting in the press and on tv. At the time it was not uncommon for people to “joke” that having gay parents would turn kids to ax murderers. Children were frequently removed from their LGBT parents simply because the parents sexual orientation.
Children were ostracized and sometimes physically attacked by peers or teachers. Hope’s response to this was radical, feminist, and queer, she did not feel the response should be “our families are just like yours.” Hope’s response was: “Our families are uniquely queer and beautiful and deserve to be treated with respect and equality. We had things to teach other families about what constitutes a family and had every right to be loud and proud about our families.”
In 1992 Hope met Stefan Lynch, also the son of a lesbian mom and gay dad who died of AIDS, on the set of a Canadian talk show called The Shirley Show. At the time talk shows were watched by many millions of viewers and were an important part of shaping the culture. In the 90’s children of gay parents were a frequent theme for talk shows.
They would bring kids with gay parents on and then ambush them with right-wing, religious ideologues who would tell the children they were going to go to hell along with their sick, immoral parents. Hope modeled standing up fiercely and proudly, unrelentingly taking on and fighting back against these attacks.
Stefan and Hope both moved to San Francisco and continued to intensively build the capacity and reach and mission of Just for Us. The name changed to COLAGE, meant to be visibly out, inclusive, and international in scope. Stefan became COLAGE’s first Executive Director and continued to build on Hope’s vision of creating a network of engaged children and young adults working together to support each other, fight homophobia, educate and transform society, and insure that no child with lgbtq parents felt isolated or alone.
As Hope stepped back from formal leadership she remained an active presence behind the scenes. Hope frequently dropped by and helped out in the COLAGE office for many years; she attended annual conferences, led workshops, continued some media work, and attended and participated in the first few years of Family Week in Provincetown, which eventually replaced the national conference.
Hope continued to groom leaders, mentor youth, take COLAGErs and Queerspawn under her very large wing, and be a keeper of COLAGE’s history as well as a tender of COLAGE’s flame. As COLAGE spun off from GLPCI in 1997 under the Executive Director tenure of Felicia Park-Rogers, Hope helped with fundraising, visioning, and maintaining relationships with parent leaders in GLPCI. She was an informal and advisor and confidante throughout Felicia’s 7-year tenure.
Hope’s vision of a thriving institution came to be, as the scrappy band of national youth volunteers grew to be a successful, influential organization. Under the leadership of Beth Teper (2003–2011), the organization grew to have a budget of nearly one million dollars and a staff of ten. Family Week has become Provincetown’s second biggest week of the year.
COLAGE has directly impacted tens of thousands of youth participants through its chapters, programs, gatherings, conferences, leadership trainings, media advocacy and support programs. Indirectly COLAGE has impacted millions of people and transformed the national concept of family and lgbtq people.
Hope did all of this work as a volunteer and continued to work as a professional ASL interpreter. In 2003, Hope married Dion Manley, President of FTM International. They started their own family; their daughter Lila Manley was born in 2004.
They moved to Ohio in 2005 to be closer to extended family and to Hope’s mom. They continued to co- parent their daughter after their divorce. Up until the time of her death Hope remained in close contact with the leadership of COLAGE, serving as mentor and advisor to successive Executive Director Annie Van Avery.
She continued to reach out especially to people who lost their fathers or parents to AIDS through COLAGE and through the on-line group formed by Alysia Abbott and Whitney Joinier, The Recollectors. Hope was the recipient of the GLPCI Jack Bell Award for Outstanding Service to LGBT families in 1994 and the recipient of the Founders Award from COLAGE in 2010.
Hope’s legacy is one of societal transformation, political advocacy, institution building, and the immeasurable legacy of change through personal connection and love. Hundreds of people at COLAGE have been pulled into the literal and virtual embrace of Hope. She loved people unconditionally and pushed us to be our very best selves as we worked together to tell the true, authentic stories of our lives and to transform society and each other in the process.
COLAGE and queerspawn mourn the loss of a true visionary and devoted advocate. She changed our lives, changed the world, and will be forever missed. We will continue to hear her uncompromising voice for justice in our heads, and feel the strong clasp of her loving hug as we continue to work for a world of justice, freedom, and liberation for all.
A Go Fund Me has been started to support the expenses related to Hope’s unexpected passing, please consider making a contribution: https://www.gofundme.com/8v54p-unexpected-death-expenses