Boston City Councilor boycotts St. Patrick’s Parade

March 22, 2011
By: Joe Siegel/TRT Reporter
Felix Arroyo, a Boston City Councilor, did not participate in the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade on March 20 , due to the continued exclusion of the GLBT community.

“It was my way of standing in solidarity with (gay) groups who are not allowed to march in that parade,” Arroyo explained to The Rainbow Times. “If the parade committee wants to exclude groups, then I don’t feel I should participate.”
Instead, Arroyo organized an event for the GLBT community to be held the same day at the same time – 12 – 3 pm at Stella restaurant in the city’s South End. The hosts included many notable gay political leaders, including Congressman Barney Frank (D), Jarrett Barrios, the Executive Director of GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation), State Rep. Liz Malia (D), State Rep. Carl Sciortino (D), and allies of the community such as State Rep. Byron Rushing (D). There was also entertainment provided by GLBT performers.

Arroyo has served as Chair of the Council’s Committee that focuses on human rights and has been a voice for the GLBT community through continued support of human rights initiatives and actions such as closing a Council meeting in memory of Tyler Clementi, the Rutgers University student who took his own life, to bring awareness to anti-gay bullying.

Arroyo vows to have an event which welcomes the GLBT community on St. Patrick’s Day every year as long as the St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee continues to exclude them.

Arroyo is optimistic that the Parade Committee will eventually allow gays and lesbians to participate.

“I don’t know how long it will take, but I think that it will happen,” Arroyo said. “I believe if the majority of South Boston residents were polled today, the overwhelming majority would be okay with GLBT groups marching. The times are changing, attitudes are changing.”

Arroyo also planned to file a resolution in support of transgender equality on March 9.

“As of right now, (transgender individuals) are not part of the hate crime law,” Arroyo noted. “And we’re saying that if you commit a felony against someone who’s transgender, or if you make the decision that you don’t want to hire somebody for being transgender or fire somebody who’s transgender, that should be considered a hate crime. This is a city that’s very progressive and a state that is very progressive and we don’t need to hold on to those old vestiges of exclusion.”

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