The entire month of June is Pride Month and Boston Pride is still going strong, even if they are virtually this year. 2020 marks the 51st anniversary of the 1969 Manhattan Stonewall Uprising and riots that launched pride parades all across the country in the fight for LGBTQ equality. The first pride celebration occured in June of 1970, but the first LGBTQ Pride March happened in Boston in June 1971, one year after New York’s first pride parade to memorialize Stonewall.
Boston Pride is all about community and acceptance while fighting against hate and misunderstanding. Pride marches and festivals allow attendees to be who they feel inside without fear of repercussions. There’s pride in marching side by side with others who understand. The march is even more important today, as those identifying as LGBTQ are still fighting to achieve equality and inclusivity through awareness and respect.
The inaugural march in Boston in 1971 began at the charming dive bar, Jacques Cabaret—still popular today, and still, the only gay bar in Boston hosting drag queen shows every night. The parade of about two hundred lively participants marched down Berkeley Street, first to the old Boston Police Headquarters, then on to Beacon Hill where the State House lives. From there they stopped in front of St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral across from Boston Common.
At each stop members of the parade made their demands. They insisted on an end to harassment and imprisonment threatsfrom the police. They demanded LGBTQ folks get the same legal rights as everyone else. They pleaded for religious tolerance. The march ended with a rally and a “symbolic closet-bashing” at the Common.
While the first pride parade had only about two hundred marchers, last year in 2019, Fifty thousand people marched for Boston Pride and over one million spectators from the sidelines making it the largest pride march in Boston’s history.
Massachusetts is a progressive state and a pioneer to LGBTQ rights; from forming GLAD, Gay & Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, in 1978 and the Family Equity Council in 1979 to be the second state to end discrimination in employment practices based on sexual orientation in 1989 and the first state to recognize same-sex marriage rights in 2003.
Boston’s deep history of fighting for equality exists in every corner of the city, but there is still a long way to go in Massachusetts and throughout the country.
To learn more about the LGBTQ community, offer support, or get help, check out the many organizations and services through Boston Pride Resource Page. You can reach out directly to The Trevor Project or Bagly, The Boston Alliance of LGBTQ+ Youth. Both are dedicated to helping LGBTQ youth. For all their supportive allies check out Greater Boston Chapter of PFLAG, Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.