12 was Boston Pop-Up Pride, to the surprise and joy of the throngs of
revelers who gathered on Boston Common. When Boston Pride was
dismantled last July, a coalition of LGBTQ+ community activists and
groups stepped up and got busy. They reimagined a new Boston Pride
organization where its long-ignored marginalized groups –
especially communities of Queer and Trans Black, Indigenous, and
people of color (QTBIPOC) - become essential actors in its new
can’t believe my eyes. There are a lot more people of color at
this Pride than any I’ve attended since coming to Boston in
2012,” Jason Wong told me, who’s originally from Chicago
Pop-Up Pride was a grassroots, community-organized,
community-centered, one-time event, it has laid a solid foundation
for future Pride events serving Greater Boston: a rally with diverse
community speakers, local artists, musicians, performers, community
tables, food vendors, a family area, an LGBTQ+ youth area, and
support from nonprofits.
Braithwaite of Walpole told me, “I like the diversity. It feels
I’ve come out to see local talent, to a community event, more
accessible, and it doesn’t feel like a marketing event.”
some in the community, Boston Pride had become a vast corporate and
commercialized extravaganza where marginal groups were nonessentials
except for photo-ops highlighting diversity. They saw the floats in
the parade as selling the soul of the movement’s grassroots
message for entry into the mainstream instead of changing the
mainstream. However, others in the community welcomed corporate
sponsors, viewing it as vital for the financial cost and continuation
of Boston Pride and affirming LGBTQ+ issues and their employees.
this year’s Pride events occurring across the state and in
various cities, these community-based grassroots events feel
authentic, appropriate, and empowering. They decentralized the
behemoth-like hold and power Boston Pride had over the entire state
and much of New England for nearly 50 years. With more acceptance of
LGBTQ+ Americans, many activists feel that local Pride events
throughout Massachusetts hold communities, towns, local officials,
and politicians accountable to its LGBTQ+denizens, especially in the
drive to combat anti-LGBTQ+ legislation with more than 300 bills in
28 states so far this year.
is a Pride by the people for the people,” Rebekah Levit of
Natick shared. And Braithwaite said, “No one group owns it. No
one group calls the shots.”
example, DignityUSA, the largest LGBTQ faith organization in the
country headquartered in Boston, kicked off Pride Month by hosting an
online prayer service. The event celebrated Pride and was a form of
pastoral care needed during this ongoing pandemic. “True
blessings don’t come from hierarchies of power; they come from
communities of care, love, and solidarity,” the website posted.
Resistance MA, an outspoken critic of the Boston Pride board’s
transmisogyny and racism, will have its Pride march, a march from
Nubian Square in Roxbury to the Franklin Park Playstead, and festival
on June 25.
black communities need to see us too like the rest of Boston does,”
Jamal Jones stated. “It ain’t like they don’t know
is an issue for communities of POC, especially its transgender
community. Like last year’s march, the TRM’s statement on
policing is the same:
plan to have minimal, if any, contact with law enforcement. Police
officers will not be invited to the event or asked to secure the
2020, the murder of George Floyd raised additional fear for LGBTQ+
people of color concerning the police. The refusal of Boston Pride’s
board to publicly support the LGBTQ+ community of color position
statement on policing simply further highlighted the decades-long
racial strife among us.
miss the parade,” Jake Green of Somerville shared. “It
does highlight the disagreement. With no parade, Pride is
Pride had an inauspicious beginning, comprising a small motley group
of LGBTQ+ activists who marched in a Vietnam protest from Cambridge
Common to Boston Common in June 1970. The group held a rally on
Boston Common, commemorating the previous Stonewall Riots. Boston
Pride evolved into a series of week-long events, one of the city’s
largest public and money-making events. Its parade, the flagship
event, drew cheering spectators of nearly one million throughout New
England and beyond than in its early years with hecklers along a
sparsely attended parade route.
an impressive crowd of folks today, as a first, without the parade
and rainbow washing voices and advertisements of corporations,”
one of the Pop-up Pride organizers stated.
Pride was vital, and many local LGBTQ+ communities agree.
agree. But, I miss the parade, too.