A Gay Day in the heart of historic, commercial Boston

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June 5, 2011
By Chuck Colbert/TRT Reporter
Its tag line is inviting: “Any season. Many reasons. Discover your reason.”

And yet on Saturday, June 4,  good reason for people to visit Boston’s number one tourist attraction was clear – Pride Day at Faneuil Hall Marketplace.

“We do this every year,” said Kevin Wicker, who along with his husband, was on hand to enjoy live music and entertainment.Another reason for the gay male couple from Watertown: “This is our six-year wedding anniversary,” explained Angelo Polcaro.

Jeff Gerstenblatt of Ogunquit, Maine, came to Faneuil Hall to volunteer with Boston Pride.

Hannah Gerstenblatt, his daughter, joined her father. “I come here for him,” she said. “He supports me, and I support him.”

Hannah, a recent graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, will return to the Philadelphia campus for law school this fall.

Meanwhile, “I think it’s cool,” she said. “I’ve never been to Pride before, never been home for the summer. I plan to go to a lot of events.”

And the “Rainbow Eye Lash Lady” —  she came to Pride Day at Faneuil Hall to volunteer as sign language interpreter.

“I just wanted to show Boston how proud I was to be a part of the festivities and for the deaf people to be able to understand the performers,” explained Jolanta Galloway of North Reading.

But why the extra large rainbow-colored eye lashes?

“I thought it would be a fabulous way to be seen,” she said.

Pride Day at Faneuil Hall Marketplace, an official event for Boston Pride, is in its eleventh year.

As Mayor Thomas M. Menino said in his proclamation, “Pride Week is more than just a celebration. It’s a visible and palpable statement by Boston’s LGBT community.”

Pride Day at Faneuil Hall Marketplace — from 10 am to 5 pm — was just that, with LGBT Pride pulsating in the commercial and historic heart of Boston.

Four-year old Cameron wowed onlookers.  Haverhill-based pop singer Matt Jackson was well received.  And Sister Funk, an all-female band, among other performers, energized the afternoon.

The significance of the venue cannot be overstated.

“Exposure,” said Pierce Durkin, who serves on the Boston Pride committee’s board of directors. “Having ourselves in a prominent position in one of the most heavily trafficked tourist areas in the city is a great way for people to see that the gay community is strong, vibrant, here and about,” he explained.

“We’re the same as everybody else, ” Durkin added. “That’s the essence of equality.”

For more than 250 years, Faneuil Hall Marketplace has been an integral part of life for Bostonians — and yes, even gay ones.

Located along the Freedom Trail, the venue is also historic.  A marketplace and meeting space since 1742, it is sometimes referred to as the “Cradle of Liberty.”  Here, American patriots railed against tyranny, their fiery speeches preludes to the Revolutionary War.

“It’s cool to be in a venue that is literally where our country was founded,” said  Cheryl Sabin, a co-chair of the Pride Day event. “People came here because of diversity. They wanted the freedom to celebrate and live life as they wanted to,” she added.

So, what’s the reaction from non-LGBT people, who happen to stumble upon such a happy gay day?

“It happens a lot,” said Sabin. “And the question comes up. What is Pride?” she explained, adding, “It gives parents an opportunity to educate their children about LGBT diversity.”

Seniors also happen upon the celebration. “This is wonderful,” Sabin recalled one woman telling her: “I should have brought my friends.”

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