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Buoyed by Jason Collins’s story, Joan Parker preps for PFLAG event

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As everyone knows by now, NBA player Jason Collins this week became the first active athlete in one of the four major sports to acknowledge he’s gay. And no one was happier than Joan Parker. The mother of two gay sons (and the widow of late great mystery writer Robert B. Parker), Parker told us she’s proud of Collins and pleased with the public’s response. “Every time [Collins’s] name is mentioned on a talk show, there’s a roar of applause,” said Parker. “It’s not ‘Boo.’ It’s complete acceptance.” The Collins story comes just as Parker is prepping for PFLAG’s annual fund-raiser May 16. (The national nonprofit is made up of parents, families, and friends of lesbians and gays.) Parker, as she has for the past few years, is co-chairing the event, which this year will honor Rufus Gifford, son of former Bank of America CEO Chad Gifford and his wife, Anne. As finance director for Obama for America, the 30-something Rufus was instrumental in helping the president raise nearly $1 billion for his reelection campaign. “He’s just an outstanding young man,” said Parker. “And [his parents] will share their story of him coming out. They’re an impressive family.” Parker said she was drawn to PFLAG by its anti-bullying efforts. “My sons didn’t tell me until a few years ago how horribly they’d been bullied,” she said. “[Bullying] has reached proportions that are staggering and something has to be done.” Co-chairing this year’s event is Holly Safford, owner of the Catered Affair. Rialto’s Jody Adams will handle the food.

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