Flag Raising Kicks Off Boston Pride Week 2013

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Martha Coakley addresses the crowd at Boston Pride's 43rd Annual Flag Raising event.  Photo: TRT/Sean Sullivan

Martha Coakley addresses the crowd at Boston Pride’s 43rd Annual Flag Raising event.
For more photos visit: The Rainbow Times’ FaceBook Page Photo: TRT/Sean Sullivan

Elected officials, allies and activists participate in annual ceremony

By: Lauren Walleser/TRT Reporter—

Boston Pride Week 2013 kicked off its 43rd year on Friday, May 31 at the annual raising of the rainbow flag at City Hall Plaza, a ceremony hosted by Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and organized by The Mayor’s Office of Arts, Tourism and Special Events; The Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services; and the Boston Pride Committee.

Justin Holmes, the mayor’s director of constituent engagement, said he was proud to be a member of the gay community in Boston and to represent the mayor at the event. Mayor Menino could not attend the ceremony as he underwent surgery Friday morning. Holmes delivered Menino’s wishes for Pride Week and noted how honored the mayor was to be chosen as the 2013 Boston Pride Parade Grand Marshall.

“What a wonderful tribute it is for a man who spent the last 20 years, and even more as a City Councilor, in support of our community at every turn,” Holmes said. [pullquote]“As we raise this flag, we raise our voices for equality,” Markey said. “We raise our voices to call for an end to discrimination. We raise our voices in a call for justice. LGBT rights are human rights. …”[/pullquote]

President of the Boston City Council Stephen Murphy said the City Council hosted its annual breakfast with the Boston Pride Committee before the flag raising, another annual tradition, and recognized the many members of City Council who were in attendance. Holmes then welcomed Congressman Ed Markey, the Democratic contender for Senate.

“As we raise this flag, we raise our voices for equality,” Markey said. “We raise our voices to call for an end to discrimination. We raise our voices in a call for justice. LGBT rights are human rights. It’s about basic human freedoms for our friends and their families. Any effort to deny equal protections under the law is unfair, discriminatory and unconstitutional, and that is just plain wrong.”

Markey noted that he was one of 67 out of 435 members of congress who voted against The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in 1996 and said it was beyond time to overturn the law. He also co-sponsored the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), voted to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and co-sponsored the United American Families Act.

“Boston has always been a hub for equal rights from the beginnings of our days as the founding fathers and mothers of our nation’s democracy,” said Markey. “To the abolitionist movement from Boston, to women who fought for the right to vote, all of it started right here, in this location, from this city, that ultimately spread to the entire country. We will continue that movement this week.”

Boston Attorney General Martha Coakley also spoke out in support of marriage equality, noting that the Supreme Court will soon announce its decision regarding the repeal of DOMA.

“As we look forward to those decisions that will come out soon, we will not give up,” Coakley said. “Whatever they say, we will keep fighting, because we are winning the hearts and minds of people all over the country about why marriage equality is so important.” [pullquote]“As we look forward to those decisions that will come out soon, we will not give up,” Coakley said. “Whatever they say, we will keep fighting, because we are winning the hearts and minds of people all over the country about why marriage equality is so important.”[/pullquote]

Marco Torres of the Boston Pride Committee spoke about the theme for this year’s Pride Week: “Moving Forward … Proud, Strong, United.”

“This represents the hardship through which the LGBTQ community has persevered and [driven] through while moving forward,” Torres said.

Torres accepted certificates of recognition from Mayor Menino on behalf of the Boston Pride Committee. The Mayor also offered a certificate to the late Jeanne Manford, founder of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, PFLAG, who passed away in January 2013. Boston Pride also named her the Honorary Marshall for this year’s parade. Deborah Peeples, president of the Board of Greater Boston PFLAG, accepted the certificate on Manford’s behalf.

“We know how critical the love and support of parents and family is to the health and wellbeing of our LGBT youth,” Peeples said. “Those of us who stand with our children, or march in the pride parade, or who are open to the incredible beauty found in human diversity, find that our lives and our journeys are immeasurably enriched.” [pullquote]“This represents the hardship through which the LGBTQ community has persevered and [driven] through while moving forward,” Torres said.[/pullquote]

Jullieanne Doherty of the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services and GLBT Liaison read Mayor Meninos’s proclamation to Linda DeMarco, president of Boston Pride.

“I, Thomas M. Menino, Mayor of the City of Boston, do hereby proclaim Friday, May 31 through Sunday, June 9 to be Boston Pride Week 2013 in the city of Boston,” Doherty read. “I urge all my fellow Bostonians to join me in recognizing the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities and their enormous contributions to the quality of the life of Boston.”

The ceremony concluded as members of the Boston Pride Committee took turns raising the flag to the song “Be Strong” by Mike Flanagan, a Boston public school teacher and recording artist. All proceeds from the song on iTunes will go to PFLAG, Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and The Trevor Project.

As Frank LaPiana and other members of Boston Prime Timers watched the flag raising, they reflected on how society has changed.

“I’m 71 years old, and when I came out around the age of 17 or 18, I never dreamt that the world would be like it is today,” LaPiana said. “This is magnificent, to be able to come to City Hall and watch the rainbow flag go up.”

For more information on all of the events throughout Boston Pride Week 2013, visit www.bostonpride.org.