A champion of gay acceptance in the community (Boston Globe, 4/19/15)

boston-globe

4/19/15
By Wendy Killeen

As Tom Bourdon goes about his job as president and executive director of Greater Boston PFLAG, he draws from his personal life.

“I think about how much I needed this when I was young and it didn’t exist,” he said of the organization for parents, families, and friends of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.

“And, I think about my kids having two gay dads and how much I want them to go through school and life not being a target, but being accepted for their family.”

He and husband Jimmy Bourdon of Andover are parents of a 5-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter.

Bourdon, 39, began providing LGBT services more than a decade ago on college campuses. He has a degree in business administration, a master’s in counseling, and a doctorate in organizational leadership.

Since joining Greater Boston PFLAG a year ago, he’s been expanding its reach north of Boston.

The mission is to create more inclusive and supportive environments in homes, schools, businesses, places of worship, and communities.

“People think because we have things like same-sex marriage, that we are done [with the work],” he said. “That is so far from the truth. There is so much hardship out there and so much need.”

Bourdon said youth are exploring their identities earlier, and many face bullying, suicidal thoughts, and if their families are not supportive, homelessness.

In addition, the transgender and gender non-conforming community is growing. “It’s a whole different level of things to understand and be supportive of,” he said. “We are doing a lot more education around that.”

Education is a growing focus at Greater Boston PFLAG, which has long had support groups and a helpline. It presents student programs and teacher training in middle and high schools, and works with corporations “to improve the environment for their staff.”

Bourdon would like to reach even more groups and underserved communities.

The organization’s major fund-raiser, Pride & Passion, is May 11 in Boston. Jason Collins, the first openly gay NBA player, who played a portion of the 2012-13 season with the Celtics and is now retired, and US Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III are being honored.

“They were college roommates and best friends [at Stanford],” said Bourdon. “Collins credits Kennedy with helping him find the courage to come out and live openly as a gay man. Their story is an amazing example of what support and change look like.”


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