Subscribe to the Duxbury Clipper and stay informed where news matters most –– your hometown!
|Speaking for tolerance|
|Written by Gillian Smith|
|Wednesday, 15 May 2013 09:04|
In the hopes of helping families whose relatives are struggling with bullying and prejudice because of their sex- ual orientation, one Duxbury resident is taking the stage to share her story.
This year, Holly Safford, founder of The Catered Affair, will co-chair the Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) “Step Up! Stop the Bullying and Make it Better NOW” fundraising event to support PFLAG’s educational programs. The Greater Boston PFLAG is an organization of parents, families, friends of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people that offers support groups and educational programs, among other things. The event aims to raise money to continue these programs.
Three years ago, Safford became involved with the PFLAG event through The Catered Affair as one of over a dozen local chefs who prepared meals for guests during the cocktail reception and silent auction. As a mother of two gay sons, Safford said the “Step Up” fundraiser is a critical event for the organization. As this year’s co-chair and one of the speakers, she said she viewed it as an opportunity to help others.
“It’s an opportunity to tell our story and to let other families with sons and daughters who identify as gay or lesbian know that we have all gone through the same experiences,” Safford said. “PFLAG is valuable in every step of the coming out process for both individuals and families.”
This year’s event will honor Rufus Gifford, one of the country’s most influential LGBT leaders. Along with honorary co-chairs Governor Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, the event will also present Elsie Frank Scholarship Awards to high schools students whose actions have advanced greater support and acceptance of LGBT youth in their schools.
Safford, who moved to Duxbury in 1996, said she always knew her oldest son was gay and worked hard to remind him that his sexual orientation did not affect how she would raise him.
“It was more important to love and cherish and raise him to understand there was no ‘fault’ to be given,” Safford said. “My children have grown up to be wonderful members of the community and are extremely successful in their careers.”
Safford’s son, Andrew Marconi, the vice president at The Catered Affair, married his long-time partner in 2004 and the couple has since adopted
three boys. Safford said her experiences and her children’s experiences have allowed her to be a resource for family, friends and neighbors embarking on the same journey.
“As people become more comfortable and gain strength in their situation, they can become a resource to other people,” Safford said. “I had so many questions when I was first confronted with this reality, and reading books and talking to others made a huge difference in how I handled it.”
Safford said working in the culinary industry also opened her eyes to the gay and lesbian community and said she hopes to see the same openness in every community as people become more comfortable with “this reality.”
Safford and her husband Charles Weilbrenner are currently in the process of purchasing the Winsor House Inn and Restaurant. Safford’s son, Alex Marconi, is listed as the manager. When coming up with a new business name for the purchase, Safford said she and her family easily settled on Modern Family Associates, inspired by the ABC primetime series “Modern Family.”
Safford said she hopes her story will resonate with guests. While many organizations focus on helping the individual, PFLAG works with families and community members, and Safford said she believes the organization could spark a “dramatic change” in the way society perceives gays and lesbians.
“There will be a number of people from the community, including parents, at the event and I think if people take anything away and talk about it the next day or week or month, it can help change the course,” she said. “In this world, there are outcasts and we need to battle the notion of others being ‘lesser than.’ It’s a much better time to be gay and lesbian in our society, but we still have a long way to go.”