|Hundreds of thousands of people turned out to watch the parade yesterday and few people seemed deterred by the downpour. Among those who braved the elements was the Rev. Stephanie Spellers (top, right) of The Cathedral Church of St. Paul and an enthusiastic Lisette Murphy (bottom, right) of Jamaica Plain. (Essdras M Suarez/Globe Staff Photos)|
Boston’s gay pride parade goes marching through the rain
This year’s event has decidedly political flavor
There were beads, batons, and body paint, but this year’s gay pride parade in Boston was also a political battlefield in the campaign for governor.
Incumbent Governor Deval Patrick marched with his daughter, Katherine, who is openly gay, and a contingent of sign-wielding supporters.
Later came Republican candidate Charles D. Baker, who worked the crowd with his openly gay brother Alexander (who goes by the name Sandy) and his openly gay running mate, Senate minority leader Richard Tisei.
Handshakes, smiles, and waves abounded. Both candidates got cheers and hoots of support, although there were also some in the crowd who pronounced themselves unimpressed.
“I think a lot of it is political maneuvering,’’ said 27-year-old David Siegel, an undecided voter from Mission Hill. “What would sway my vote is if a candidate didn’t march today.’’
While marching in a gay pride parade was once controversial, and may still be in some places, yesterday’s event in Boston felt mainstream.
Sun Life insurance corporation threw Mardi Gras-style beads emblazoned with its logo. There were drag queens and scantily clad men tossing lollipops from floats, but also a showing by the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department, TD Bank, and TJX, parent company of the TJ Maxx and Marshalls chain. Employees at the National Grid utility marched, some soaking wet from a soaking rain, alongside a festooned bucket truck.
Hundreds of thousands turned out to watch and few people seemed deterred by the downpour. The only candidate for governor who did not appear was State Treasurer Timothy P. Cahill, who is running as an independent. A staffer said he was spending the day in his hometown of Quincy and planned to march in the city’s Flag Day Parade yesterday evening.
Patrick and his daughter marched behind the Lesbian & Gay Big Apple Corps, which featured a baton twirler, flag wavers, and marching band.
After the parade, Patrick was endorsed by MassEquality, the state’s largest gay rights group. Patrick’s daughter worked as an intern for the group in 2008.
When asked why he chose Patrick over Baker, executive director Scott Gortikov said Patrick had shown strong leadership by signing recent antibullying legislation and repealing a 1913 law that prevented out-of-state lesbian and gay couples from marrying in Massachusetts.
Patrick and Baker support gay marriage; however, only Patrick also supports the Transgender Civil Rights Bill, which makes it illegal to discriminate on the basis of “gender identity or expression.’’
Patrick “has a history of going to bat very forcefully for the gay community,’’ Gortikov said.
And, Gortikov said, “Richard Tisei is not running for governor . . .’’
The legislation has been a thorny issue for Baker because it was cosponsored three years ago by his now running mate Tisei.
Social conservatives have referred to it as the “bathroom bill,’’ contending that it would sanction unisex bathrooms and locker rooms.
Baker referred to it as such at the state’s Republican convention last month, saying he would veto it.
Some remembered that unhappily yesterday.
Brenda Cole of Brookline said Baker would have to do more than walk in the parade or run with a gay running mate to get her vote, calling his lack of support for the bill a “big deal.’’
“I don’t see the point of having a gay running mate if you’re against gay rights,’’ she said. “We need more than lip service.’’
Mare Freed of Somerville said she has been to the parade seven or eight times over the years and it gets bigger each time. Freed said Patrick’s status as the father of an openly gay daughter won’t affect her vote this fall.
“I’m very happy that he’s proud of his daughter just they way she is,’’ Freed said, but that’s where it ends.
Kirsten Martin of Jamaica Plain said Tisei came up to her and introduced himself as he walked the parade route. She had never heard of him but liked how he looked her in the eye when she spoke.
Curious to learn more, she grabbed her iPhone and did a quick search for his party affiliation and voting record.
“Just because he walks with us doesn’t mean I’ll vote for him,’’ she said.