City Hall Rainbow Flag Raising Initiates Boston Pride 2012

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Gunner Scott, MTPC, and parade marshal for this year's Boston Pride, addresses the crowd during the flag raising ceremony that officially started Boston Pride week. Photo by: Lorelei Erisis

By: Chuck Colbert/TRT Reporter–

BOSTON — June is busting out all over with LGBT Pride.

This year, there’s plenty of pride and joy to go around.

For instance, just in time for Pride week, the First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled yesterday (May 31) that Section 3 of the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act, which bars federal recognition of same-sex couples’ marriages, is unconstitutional.

And in fewer than 30 days, the state’s Transgender Civil Rights Act takes effect, providing legal protections on the basis of “gender identity” and “gender expression” in employment, credit, housing, and K-12 education.

Already in other major cities, including Philadelphia and Washington, D. C., the weeklong-plus schedules of festivities are underway.

Locally, the Boston Pride Committee kicked off a ten-day period of events at noon on Fri., June 1, starting with the annual Rainbow flag raising ceremony, again held in City Hall Plaza.

Many Boston City councillors, several state lawmakers, and Boston Pride Committee members, among others, raised a huge six-color banner — red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet — arguably the most visible symbol of the LGBT community worldwide.

Music and lyrics of the late Donna Summer’s “Stamp Your Feet” rang out as crystalline blue skies and bright sunshine embraced the brilliant rainbow colors. The temperature was pleasant — in the low 70-degree range along with little humidity.

Boston is in fact the first municipality in the nation to allow the Rainbow flag to fly over a city hall, according to Linda De Marco, president of the board of directors for the Pride committee. “We paved the way for other cities,” she said. “Providence was next and finally New York City.”

Justin Holmes, constituent engagement director for Mayor Thomas M. Menino, served as master of ceremony for a brief program that spotlighted marshals for Boston’s 2012 Pride Parade, which steps off from Copley Plaza at noon on Sat., June 9, and ends 2.6 miles later at City Hall Plaza.

This year’s parade is a third of a mile longer, according to Boston Pride organizers, with 170 registered contingents that include 21 floats, 45 vehicles, and any number of elected officials and candidates for public office. More than 15,000 marchers are expected to trek the parade route.

Fast Freddy, Boston Pride Parade Marshal, addresses the crowd. Photo by: Lorelei Erisis

Meanwhile, parade marshals this year are the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC) and Mix 104.1 radio personality Fast Freddy.

Boston Pride also selected the late Brendan Burke as an honorary marshal.

Gunner Scott, MTPC executive director, told the gathering of several hundred people, “We have always been a part of the this community. Some of us have been very out and others no so much.”

“The historical reality is,” he said, “the first two Pride marches in New York City were funded by a transgender person, Lee Brewster.

Passage of a law proving legal protections for the state’s estimated 30,000 transgender persons puts Massachusetts among the ranks of 15 other states.

In his remarks, Fast Freddy Murphy emphasized being true to one’s self. “I made a conscious decision to be who I am and all I can be on radio for 20 years,” he said.

“From the Top of the Hub to the bottom of the barrel, I will always deliver myself as I am,” said Murphy.

The theme of Boston Pride this year is “Celebrating 30 Years of Worldwide Pride,” a moniker chosen in part to highlight the local Pride committee’s hosting of InterPride later on this year.

For 42 years, a highlight of Greater Boston’s celebration of Pride is a march or parade commemorating the Stonewall Rebellion, a spontaneous uprising on June 28, 1969, at a New York City gay bar—a flare up between police and patrons that propelled the growth of the gay civil-rights movement.

In a city known for other firsts — first schools, parks, libraries, and same-sex marriages — Boston also hosted, in 1982, the first conference of InterPride, the global association of Pride organizers.

InterPride returns to the Hub from Oct. 3 – 7 for its annual international conference, a gathering geared toward networking, education, and mentoring.

While neither Boston Mayor Menino nor Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick were in attendance today both issued respective proclamations.

“Boston Pride week is more than just a celebration,” the mayor wrote. “It is a palpable statement by Boston’s gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community.”

Yet “another successful year of Boston Pride invites us to get out and create change and raise our voices in the name of equality, dignity, and progress,” wrote the governor who proclaimed the day, June 1 to be Pride Day in the Commonwealth.

By late afternoon, even the president weighed in, issuing his annual LGBT Pride proclamation.

“I call on the people of the United States to eliminate prejudice everywhere it exists, and to celebrate the great diversity of the American people,” Obama wrote in proclaiming June 2012 LGBT Pride Month.

Holding a small banner, members of the LGBT Senior Pride Coalition attended the flag-raising ceremony.

“Individually, we don’t have a voice, but together you have strength” in raising funds and awareness, said spokesperson Gordon Burns, who, five years ago, co-founded the group, which now includes five different organizations.

Also on hand to hoist rainbow colors was Grace Sterling Stowell, executive director of the Boston Alliance of Gay, Lesbian Bisexual, and Transgender Youth, or BAGLY.

“We could not be more proud to have Gunner Scott and MTPC honored this year for it to be a truly LGBT community in recognizing the success and celebration of the transgender community,” she said.

For her part, Boston City Councillor At-Large Ayanna Pressley said attending the opening ceremony for Boston Pride has been “a tradition for me.”

“The [LGBT] community has always been good to me, and I will always be an ally,” she said. “I feel such a sense of pride to be a part of the official ushering in of Pride and glad we had such a gorgeous day.”

In other news, CNN recently called out Boston as one of the world’s best Pride celebrations, ranking the Hub with Amsterdam and Tel Aviv.

[More Photos at: http://on.fb.me/L4pen9]

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