LGBT group MassEquality responds to the invitation to march in South Boston's St. Patrick's Day Parade
Over the past couple of days Boston Mayor Martin Walsh has been working with the organizers of the South Boston St Patrick’s Day Parade in an effort to finally end the stalemate between the parade organizers and the LGBT community.
It has been a longstanding tradition that LGBT groups were not welcome to march in the parade. As a result former Mayor Menino did not march in the parade and Mayor Walsh has stated that he would not march either if the anti-LGBT stance remained in place.
The Boston Globe reported earlier today that Mayor Walsh and parade organizers have negotiated a deal that would allow for LGBT advocacy group MassEquality to march in the parade, however there are conditions attached. Marchers from the group would not be permitted to wear T-shirts or hold signs that include the word gay or refer to sexual orientation.
“They can march under the MassEquality banner,” Tim Duross, one of the parade coordinators, said Friday. “We’d be happy to have them here. And we’d be proud to have them here. Everybody knows who MassEquality is.
“We said, ‘You’re a great organization, you do wonderful things for people, and therefore we’d be happy to have you in our parade. But we’d rather you just wish everybody a happy St. Patrick’s Day and left it with that.’ ”
Reaction to the news via comments on Boston Spirit magazine’s facebook page was overwhelming negative. One comment called for a boycott of MassEquality if the group accepted the conditional invitation, others compared the situation to the recent Olympic Games in Sochi and the U.S. military’s recently overturned Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy.
Late this afternoon (Saturday) MassEquality issued a statement regarding the invitation to march as well as the conditions attached to the invitation.
The South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade has a long history of banning LGBT people from freely expressing themselves. This morning, the Boston Globe reported that Parade organizers had issued an invitation for MassEquality to march in the Parade. MassEquality has not yet had any direct discussion with Parade organizers and learned about this invitation through the Boston Globe. Any reports that a deal has been reached are incorrect.
The fact that Parade organizers are willing to have a conversation with MassEquality is an important part of ongoing public dialogue about LGBT people and the Parade. But at this point, it’s still just a conversation. MassEquality has not accepted any invitation to march, and will only consider accepting an invitation that allows LGBT people to march openly.
We have heard from LGBT people who are Irish, who are veterans, and many others who would like to march in the Parade and to be able to express all of who they are. LGBT people should not have to silence who they are to celebrate other parts of their identities.
Ultimately, MassEquality is marching toward justice and we are committed to full equality and inclusion for everyone in our LGBT communities. We welcome a direct conversation with the Parade organizers about making the St. Patrick’s Day Parade truly welcoming to LGBT people.
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