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Gerry Parker, Gay Rights Activist, Dies

July 25, 1987|CAROL McGRAW | Times Staff Writer

Gerry Parker, 38, a pioneer in gay rights politics in California, died of AIDS July 10 in San Francisco and memorial services were held last week at St. Martin's Episcopal Church there.

Described as having an unflagging energy for political strategies, he was involved in California politics, especially human rights, pro-peace and gay and lesbian issues, after moving to Los Angeles in 1975 from New Hampshire.

"He truly believed in going straight to the problem and not sidestepping it. He was a tireless worker," said Ivy Bottini, president of the Stonewall Democratic Club of Los Angeles, a gay-issues political club that Parker helped found in 1975.

Morris Kight, longtime Los Angeles activist, said, "He was a daring and creative political strategist who could get things done stylishly and well."

Parker's political career began at age 18, when he served as a page in the Boston office of Gov. John Volpe of Massachusetts. At 21, he was elected to the New Hampshire Legislature, where he served from 1970 to 1975. He continued in politics in Southern California, where he helped organize the gay and lesbian caucuses for the California Democratic Party, the California Democratic Council and the Democratic National Committee.

Parker moved to San Francisco in 1978, when then-Supervisor Harvey Milk asked him to help lead the successful fight against Proposition 6, which would have made it illegal for homosexuals to teach.

He most recently helped launch the California Community Aids Network, which helped defeat Proposition 64. The 1986 ballot measure would have required health authorities to keep lists of those who tested positive for AIDS antibodies.

Parker, a graduate of Georgetown University in Washington, was working on a law degree at New College in San Francisco at the time of his death. He is survived by his parents, Charles and Barbara Parker, and a sister, Jane Murray, all of New Hampshire. In lieu of flowers, he asked that donations be made to the Shanti Project of San Francisco.

Parker was buried in Nashua, N.H.

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