BY ARIEL HERNANDEZ
Councilman Daniel Dromm’s (D-Jackson Heights) mother Mary Audrey Gallagher—a longtime education advocate and teacher—died last Thursday at age 85 of a heart attack.
Gallagher was an educator, founding member of Parents and Friends Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) and mother of five. Dromm, who is openly gay, credits his success to his mother.
“My beautiful mother was my Rose Kennedy,” said Dromm.”My mother knocked on over 1,500 doors to help me get elected, wrote a beautiful letter to seniors in the district and was constantly seen campaigning with me. Everywhere I went, people always asked me about my mother. I truly believe she was the main reason I won.”
Gallagher was born in Brooklyn in 1932, but was raised in Queens. She attended St. Margaret’s Elementary School in Middle Village and The Mary Louis Academy in Jamaica for high school, and graduated from St. John’s University with a degree in education.
After starting a family, Gallagher took time off to be a stay-at-home mother, which didn’t last long. Her love for education was so strong that she ended up starting her own nursery school in her Manhasset home, where she lived at that time.
Although she lived on Long Island, Gallagher returned to teaching in New York City when her children were older. During that time, she helped to unionize the directors and fought to get them membership in the Council of Supervisors and Administrators.
When Gallagher moved back to the city, she marched in her first LGBT Pride Parade, which her son had organized in 1993. It was then that she decided to create a PFLAG Queens chapter.
“I had the honor of first meeting Audrey back in July of 1993 in the home of PFLAG founder Jeanne Manford, where a group of Queens residents got together to form a chapter of the organization,” said PFLAG/Queens Outreach and media director Larry Nelson. “The group consisted of myself, Jeanne Manford, a couple named Claire and Lenny Vogel, who had a lesbian daughter—and, finally, Daniel Dromm and his mother, Mary Audrey Gallagher. From the get-go, Audrey was a very outspoken parent who wanted to show the world the unconditional love she had for her gay son. She was PFLAG/Queens’ hospitality chairperson and made people feel welcome. The chapter will miss the love and devotion that she shared with others over the years.”
For the rest of her life, Gallagher advocated for LGBT children.
“Her support and embrace of her gay son Danny extended to his friends and the LGBT community of Queens,” said Brendan Fay, a member of the Lavender and Green Alliance and St. Pat’s For All. “We became her extended family. She was a familiar face and welcome presence at every Queens Pride parade, St. Pat’s For All parade and Queens PFLAG gathering for the last quarter century. She had a hug and a word of encouragement for everyone, but especially for those who needed it most: parents and LGBT children struggling in a world of prejudice. She warmed a room with her stories, humor and a song. Her love of Irish music is reflected in her story of naming Danny after her favorite Irish ballad, ‘Danny Boy.’”
Reach Ariel Hernandez at (718) 357-7400 x144, firstname.lastname@example.org or @reporter_ariel.