Unity Pride Forms in Boston: Promotes Inclusivity, Celebrates Differences, Unites Through Social Justice

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By: Lauren Walleser/TRT Assistant Editor—

BOSTON, Mass.—Pride season will be here before we know it, and this year, a new organization called Unity Pride has joined the Boston scene. The Unity Pride committee formed in 2014 with the goal of addressing issues of diversity and inclusion across the Commonwealth.

“Given recent events in the media that have sensationalized tragic deaths and called attention to racism, homophobia, misogyny and a myriad of other systemic problems in our society, the committee was conceptualized as a means to tackle these problems head-on and build a community that can coalesce around our commonalities, but also celebrate our differences,” said Yovannys ImpaKt Kenney, Unity Pride co-chair. “As we progress through the 21st century, we are increasingly aware of the significant benefits of building communities based on understanding and acceptance.”

While Massachusetts has been at the forefront of LGBTQ rights, non-discrimination legislation and other human rights issues, Unity Pride Committee Chair Henry Paquin said there is still a need for organizations like Unity Pride to encourage further progress. [pullquote]“Given recent events in the media that have sensationalized tragic deaths and called attention to racism, homophobia, misogyny and a myriad of other systemic problems in our society, the committee was conceptualized as a means to tackle these problems head-on and build a community that can coalesce around our commonalities, but also celebrate our differences,” said Yovannys ImpaKt Kenney, Unity Pride co-chair.[/pullquote]

“Unity Pride is pushing the envelope and taking progressivism another step forward by building a unified community that sees beyond sexual orientation, gender identity, race, nationality, religious affiliation, or any other socio-cultural marker,” said Paquin. “The need stems from the fractures our society and our communities have experienced due to systemic injustices such as racism, transphobia, homophobia, elitism, misogyny, and the many other ‘isms’ that have come to characterize our interactions with one another.”

Paquin commented on how Unity Pride differs from Boston Pride, the organization that runs Boston’s largest Pride celebrations each year in June.

“Boston Pride and other pride organizations across the Commonwealth have done a phenomenal job of building communities and engaging those communities,” Paquin said. “Unity Pride differentiates itself in that we strive to be an organization that brings all of those communities together under one umbrella, not just the LGBTQ community, but any other community dedicated to celebrating our differences.” [pullquote]“Boston Pride and other pride organizations across the Commonwealth have done a phenomenal job of building communities and engaging those communities,” Paquin said. “Unity Pride differentiates itself in that we strive to be an organization that brings all of those communities together under one umbrella, not just the LGBTQ community, but any other community dedicated to celebrating our differences.”[/pullquote]

When asked for a comment on the formation of Unity Pride, Boston Pride shared the following statement.

“Boston Pride is celebrating its 45th anniversary this year,” said Boston Pride President Sylvain Bruni. “During that time, Boston Pride has been working with everyone in the community to ensure that all members of the LGBT community feel welcome, feel safe, and that they are included in the Boston community at large. And, we plan on doing it for another 45 years and beyond.”

Unity Pride plans to have an official launch party later this year to introduce their organization to the community and raise money for local LGBT organizations.

“Unity Pride will show its devotion to diversity and inclusion by donating proceeds from all events to a worthy nonprofit in Massachusetts,” said Paquin. “With nearly 34,000 nonprofits headquartered in Massachusetts, Unity Pride looks forward to building awareness of and providing resources to worthy organizations whose missions serve marginalized communities in an effort to fully realize equity for all.”

According to Mike Givens, Unity Pride committee member, there are numerous issues in the LGBTQ community that require “immediate attention.”

“There are crippling racial and socioeconomic disparities that many in the LGBTQ community must contend with,” said Givens. “LGBTQ communities of color and female-identified LGBTQ people experience drastic disparities when it comes to healthcare, pay inequalities, discrimination and access to resources that will make them whole.”

Givens expressed that other concerns continue to be overlooked.

“Members of the transgender community do not have discrimination protections in public settings and it is legal to deny someone service based solely on their actual or perceived gender identity,” said Givens. “We need more funding for HIV/AIDS services and programs. We need to retire archaic and ineffective sex education curricula that refuse to teach adequate birth control methods, variations in gender identity and sexual orientation, and appropriate use of contraceptives. We need policies that ban conversion therapy for minors in Massachusetts. These issues are just scratching the surface!”

Unity Pride will have a strong social justice component and will hold educational workshops and offer volunteer opportunities to deploy their resources and address these issues, according to Paquin.

“Our sincere hope is that people come together and experience each other on a level that challenges us to look outside of our own lived experience,” said Paquin. “We host events such as networking nights, social gatherings, and educational workshops, and our core mission is to promote inclusivity, a shared intentionality to understand and empathize with each other while also acknowledging differences and the beauty inherent in diversity.”

Kenney noted that the only requirement to join Unity Pride is “an open mind.”

For more information, visit www.unityprideboston.org, or email [email protected] to get involved.

To read a copy of TRT’s March, 2015 issue in: .pdf click here; via ISSUU, click here.

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