Paulette Goodman was born to a Jewish family and grew up in Nazi-occupied Paris. Her family moved to the United States in 1949. In 1980, she moved to Silver Spring, Maryland. Her daughter came out in 1981, and Goodman helped found the Metro Washington DC-area chapter of PFLAG, PFLAG Metro DC in 1983. During her tenure, she counseled families of LGBT people, answered calls on the PFLAG helpline, and led the campaign to get PFLAG ads displayed on DC Metro buses.
Goodman has appeared on radio, TV, and in print, and given talks and workshops at colleges, in faith communities, and other public forums. She lobbied in Annapolis and on Capitol Hill for LGBT equality, and helped start PFLAG chapters in Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia. In 1991 Goodman was honored by the Association of Gay and Lesbian Psychiatrists for PFLAG, and with the Public Service Award of the Greater New York Bar Association for Human Rights. She also served as the DC Pride Parade Grand Marshal in 1989.
In 1989, Goodman sent a series of letters to Barbara Bush asking for her support. The first lady replied personally, stating, "I firmly believe that we cannot tolerate discrimination against any individuals or groups in our country. Such treatment always brings with it pain and perpetuates intolerance." The reply, inadvertently passed on to the Associated Press, caused a political maelstrom and may have been the first gay-positive comments to come from the White House.
In 2005 Goodman founded PFLAG Riderwood—a satellite support group under the umbrella of PFLAG Metro DC—a first-of-its-kind PFLAG group based in a retirement home at Riderwood Community. Since its founding, the group has actively inspired other support groups to start in retirement homes.
In March 2013, she received recognition for her work with PFLAG from both Montgomery County, Maryland and Martin O'Malley, the Governor of Maryland.
- Kivisto, Peter, ed. (2010). "Evoking Social Change: A Case Study". Illuminating Social Life: Classical and Contemporary Theory Revisited (5th ed.). Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Pine Forge Press. p. 386. ISBN 978-1-4129-7815-6.
- Quindlen, Anna (2010). Thinking Out Loud: On the Personal, the Political, the Public and the Private. New York: Random House. ISBN 978-0-307-76355-6.
- Muzzy, Frank (2005). Gay and Lesbian Washington, Part 3. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Pub. p. 54. ISBN 978-0-7385-1753-7.
- "Paulette Goodman (2012 awardee)". Rainbow History Project. Archived from the original on December 18, 2013. Retrieved December 25, 2013.
- Murray, Heather (2010). Not in This Family: Gays and the Meaning of Kinship in Postwar North America. Philadelphia, Pa.: University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 181. ISBN 978-0-8122-0740-8.
- Watney, Simon (1994). Practices of Freedom: Selected Writings on HIV/AIDS (1st ed.). Duke University Press. pp. 180–181. ISBN 978-0-8223-1564-3.
- Shue, Kelly A. (January 2010). "Riderwood becomes first retirement community with PFLAG". Erickson Tribune. Archived from the original on 2013-12-26.