OP-Ed: St. Patrick’s Parade — Still Exclusionary, Divisive to LGBTs

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As a transgender woman and veteran I have very mixed thoughts and feelings. To me the decision and it’s restrictions say to us that you can march as long as you remain closeted. This is still a message that being an LGBT person carries a certain condemnation and says that we are less than. Personally, I refuse to let anyone make me feel less than anyone else. When we accept those terms it keeps us in a shameful place. For too many years of my life I felt so much shame that on two separate occasions I attempted suicide. [pullquote]This is still a message that being an LGBT person carries a certain condemnation and says that we are less than. [/pullquote]

Today we have over 600,000 homeless LGBT Youth living on the streets after being rejected by their families. Over 40% of these young people will either commit suicide or die on our streets before their 26th birthday. When these kids are thrown out of the house their very first message is that they are less than. They become stigmatized for life and carry the burden of shame. I know this experience first hand as I was one of those kids forty-six years ago.

I cannot use the word Victory with this decision because although it may be opening a door, it is a door which is closing us back into the closet at the same time. Our flag represents all the colors of the rainbow and is fully inclusive of all humans. It was designed with that thought in mind when it was first created and displayed in San Francisco. Biblically, it is the promise of hope and a bright future for all of humanity. That was the reason we adopted it as our symbol. [pullquote]I feel that this restrictive invitation to MassEquality may very well split our LGBT community in half. For example Boston Pride would not be invited to participate as a group under their own banner which is the rainbow flag. PFLAG would not be invited because their banner states Family, Friends, and Allies of Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals and Transgenders. Our foundation would not be approved to march under our banner because we have adopted the rainbow colors in our logo. [/pullquote]

David and I marched in last years peace parade and proudly carried the rainbow flag with Boston Pride. We also share a belief in peace and we dream of a world without war, discrimination, hate, violence, and greed. As Unitarians we believe in the inherent dignity of all humankind and the right to express our differences without exclusion or condemnation.

We are faced with a very tough decision. Just because the door has been opened do we march with MassEquality who has done so much for equality or do we march with the peace parade because of our true convictions? We truly appreciate the work of MassEquality and the wonderful support of Mayor Walsh and this is what has created a dilemma for us.

I feel that this restrictive invitation to MassEquality may very well split our LGBT community in half. For example Boston Pride would not be invited to participate as a group under their own banner which is the rainbow flag. PFLAG would not be invited because their banner states Family, Friends, and Allies of Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals and Transgenders. Our foundation would not be approved to march under our banner because we have adopted the rainbow colors in our logo. [pullquote]We feel that until all are invited to participate in the parade this is still an exclusionary event based on the differences of how we view a peaceful and inclusionary world.[/pullquote]

We feel that until all are invited to participate in the parade this is still an exclusionary event based on the differences of how we view a peaceful and inclusionary world.

We must be true to our own convictions and I am sad to say that we cannot march with MassEquality. Instead this year we will march in the peace parade.

Gratefully,

Erica Kay-Webster, CEO and President

Foundation For International Justice & Promise Place School for Homeless LGBTOI Youth

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