BOSTON, Mass. — Organizers of the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade that takes place in South Boston rejected an application by MassEquality to participate in Sunday’s parade. In doing so, organizers noted that the parade was full.
MassEquality Executive Director Kara Suffredini issued the following statement in response:
“Organizers of the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade have barred LGBTQ people and groups from marching in the Parade for 18 years simply because they are openly LGBTQ. After years of rejecting MassEquality, in particular, because it is an LGBTQ organization, it seems disingenuous to now ban the organization because the Parade is allegedly ‘full’.
“To be sure, the LGBTQ community in Massachusetts faces many issues more urgent than the ability to participate in a parade – youth homelessness, bullying, anti-transgender discrimination, HIV/AIDS, elder abuse, and more. But public rejection by an established cultural institution like the St. Patrick’s Day Parade is significant in that it’s emblematic of the more life-altering rejection our community members face every day.
“Rejection by their families is why 25 percent of lesbian or gay teens experience homelessness as compared with just three percent of heterosexual teens, and it’s whyup to 40 percent of homeless youth are LGBTQ. Rejection by their peers is why LGBTQ students are four times more likely to commit suicide than their heterosexual counterparts. Rejection is also why the mere fact of being an openly LGBTQ person in Massachusetts results in higher stress and poorer health.
“When Massachusetts is in so many ways a beacon of inclusion for the LGBTQ community, it is disappointing to see parade organizers continue to cultivate a climate of rejection and exclusion.”
In addition, Boston Pride — via its website and e-blast — denounced the St. Patrick’s Parade organizer’s actions by stating that “Again, the organizers of the celebration have turned down all groups from the LGBT community, invoking the Supreme Court ruling that allows them to decline registrations on the basis of the community represented by those who wish to march. And yes, that IS discrimination against our community!”
The Boston Pride headline read: “St. Patrick’s Day: Homos not Welcome!” The organization also urged community members and the general public to spread the word and “help fight discrimination by participating in the Peace Parade.”
In addition, Boston Pride applauded the actions of Boston’s political incumbents and candidates such as “state senate Linda Dorcena Forry and Maureen Dahill, “who have publicly stated that they “will not march due to the refusal to allow LGBT groups to participate in the traditional parade, which is also the position of Mayor Thomas Menino.”
“The Boston Pride Parade always welcomes everyone and we understand better than most why it is important to be inclusive and to denounce bigotry,” said Linda DeMarco, President of Boston Pride. “We are proud to support the Peace Parade and we applaud candidates and elected officials who stand with us in denouncing this discriminatory practice.”
According to the organization’s e-blast, Boston Pride will sponsor the Peace Parade “to protest this discrimination and remind that the Boston Pride Parade welcomes EVERYONE.”
The Rainbow Times’ March 7th issue (and online) ran a story on the controversy with interviews from the Peace Parade organizers, Mayor Thomas Menino and others. The Peace Parade will be held this Sunday in South Boston, right after the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. It will begin at 3 p.m. at the corner of D Street and West Broadway in South Boston and will conclude at the Andrews T Station.
MassEquality is the leading statewide grassroots advocacy organization working to ensure that everyone across Massachusetts can thrive from cradle to grave without discrimination and oppression based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. MassEquality does this by partnering across issues, identities and communities to build a broad, inclusive and politically powerful movement that changes hearts and minds and achieves policy and electoral victories.
Boston Pride produces events and activities to achieve inclusivity, equality, respect, and awareness in Greater Boston and beyond. Fostering diversity, unity, visibility, and dignity; we educate, communicate, and advocate by building and strengthening community connections.
[From a News Release and Compilations of a TRT Report]