HAPPY PRIDE! June is Pride Month for the LGBTQIA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, Asexual, Ally) community. If you’ve been seeing more rainbows than usual this month, it’s not because leprechauns have invaded the city. The rainbow represents the entire spectrum of the LGBTQ community and stands as a symbol of hope that everyone can find a place where they feel comfortable, supported and loved.
President Obama, the first U.S. President to “come out” in support of same-sex marriage, issued a proclamation declaring June Pride Month. Since he first publicly supported same-sex marriage in 2012, the President has become a staunch supporter of gay rights, often expressing support for the gay community in many of his speeches.
Pride is celebrated in June each year to commemorate the June 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York City. The riots were the catalyst for the gay rights movement and to this day the spirit of Stonewall lives on. You can visit the Stonewall Inn, the site of the riots, in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan to learn more about the riots.
Cities across the world will hold parades and festivals this month to celebrate the LGBTQ community. On Saturday, June 14, I attended the 44th Annual Boston Pride Parade. Boston’s parade is one of the oldest Pride parade’s in the country, it started shortly after the first Pride parade in L.A.’s West Hollywood and is still going strong over four decades later. This was the first parade since the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling that struck down DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) on June 26, 2013. This year also marks the tenth anniversary since Massachusetts legalized same-sex marriage in May 2004, becoming the first U.S. state to allow same-sex couples to marry.
Massachusetts is known as a “mecca” for the LGBTQ community, and both of our U.S. Senators and several Congressmen and women, including U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy, marched in the parade and showed off their pride. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh along with Gov. Deval Patrick were this year’s grand marshals. Patrick was honored at the parade this year for his advocacy and work with the LGBTQ community since his term as governor expires at the end of this year and he is not seeking re-election. Notably absent from this year’s parade was former Boston Mayor Tom Menino, who is somewhat of a darling of the Boston gay community and worked tirelessly to make Boston a more inclusive place.
It was great to see our politicians present and showing their support, and their presence shows how important Pride is to bringing visibility to issues such as same-sex marriage. I often hear, “why is gay marriage even an issue, its 2014?” Those people are right, it shouldn’t be an issue, but sadly it is. In over seventy countries, it is still a crime to be openly gay or partake in homosexual acts.
In over 30 states, someone who identifies as LGBTQ could be fired from their job just for being who they are. And gay couples living in states that don’t allow them to marry face a myriad of problems when it comes to taxes, hospital visits, adopting children and the list goes on. Bills like the Employee Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) have been debated in Congress for years, but has never been passed. Maybe Senators Warren and Markey can put their love and support to good use and fight harder for ENDA, in addition to all the good work they’re currently doing. It’s key to remember that even though things might seem fine in your own backyard and you may perceive your community or yourself to be progressive and supportive towards the LGBTQ community, that isn’t the story everywhere. Hopefully someday that will change.
Pride is a month to look back and remember all that has been accomplished, and also a time to look ahead and renew the strength for the work that still needs to be done. This is the first Pride month that all states who do not currently allow same-sex marriage have some sort of lawsuit filed against state bans. Sounds confusing, and it kind of is. In some states where this is happening, judges have issued stays or marriages have started but then stopped. It’s basically a big, unnecessary game of musical chairs with people’s lives that is just plain wrong.
The number of states that allow gay nuptials is a little tricky too, but this map might help clear things up a bit and shows the current state of marriage equality in the U.S. The map seems to change nearly every day so it might not be accurate by the time you view it!
I had a blast at the parade and loved seeing people express themselves and be who they are. Even better, I was able to see this happen in the great city of Boston, known as being a pioneer of gay rights and a city that can perhaps be credited with starting the marriage equality movement.
The rain was luckily not too harsh and the sun eventually came out, just in time for the Pride Festival at City Hall Plaza. And being able to watch the parade on the same street that one year ago was a scene of chaos was bittersweet. Boston continues to show how it only gets stronger when you try to knock it down.
There was a lot of corporate sponsorship, which is fantastic and it was awesome to see so many companies showing their support. It was also nice to see so many religious organizations and faith communities showing their support. But I personally enjoy Ptown’s annual Pride parade much better. It is much more, shall I say, “expressive,” and there’s always a theme which never fails to incite lots of laughs. I recommend checking it out if you’ve never been, it’s held in late August each year. Plus Ptown is a beautiful place to visit anyways with so much to do.
While this year’s Boston Pride Week is over, Pride Month is not. There are plenty of events going on around the Boston area this month and plenty of ways that you can show your support as an ally. Reach out to the many organizations who work with the LGBTQ community. Or just simply try to be kind to everyone you meet, you never know how far it will go.
My next stop is attending London Pride later this month, more on that later. But Boston will always be where my heart is, and where my Pride is.