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Boston Pride for the People will be hosting the first Boston Pride parade and festival since 2019 this June, bringing back the event after the previous group — the Boston Pride Committee — dissolved and left the city without a parade in 2022.
In June 2020, the Boston Pride Committee — which had organized Boston’s annual Pride parade since 1999 — became embroiled in controversy after removing references to the Black Lives Matter movement in an amended press statement following the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.
Protesting the decision, more than 80 percent of the organization’s volunteers resigned and created their own organizations, including Boston Black Pride, Trans Resistance, and Pride 4 The People, which was later rebranded as Boston Pride for the People.
In December 2020, many of these newly created LGBTQ+ organizations called for a boycott of the 2021 Boston Pride parade, which was ultimately canceled due to a surge in Covid-19 cases.
Following the boycott, the Boston Pride Committee dissolved in July 2021, leaving the city without a Pride parade for another year — though some gathered in Boston Common to celebrate with a “Pop-Up Pride” in its place in June 2022.
Now, a new organization, Boston Pride for the People, has picked up the task of organizing the event that attracted 750,000 people in 2019 — greater than the entire population of the city proper.
Adrianna M. Boulin and Jo Trigilio, president and vice president, respectively, of Boston Pride for the People, discussed plans for the event in a joint interview. The group’s primary aim is to have the event be “community-centered and as inclusive as possible,” Trigilio said.
Trigilio added the event’s organizers want “to be very intentional about racial equity, racial inclusion, trans inclusion, inclusion of people with disabilities.”
Boulin said last year’s Pop-Up Pride inspired the organization’s vision of a Pride focused on inclusivity and unity.
“I remember when Pop-Up Pride was held over the summer, it felt so good,” Boulin said. “It felt grassroots; it felt right. It felt like we were beginning to fill the void.”
The two also addressed more substantive policy decisions about how they will hold the Boston Pride Parade this year — referencing issues that have caused controversy among Pride organizers across the United States.
On one such issue — the presence of police officers — Trigilio said the pair spoke with Boston Police about holding a Pride where “people feel safe in the space” and confirmed that officers would be at the event, citing threats against LGBTQ+ people in Boston as an ongoing safety concern.
Trigilio said the group’s goal, however, is to “find ways of having people feel safe without having a really heavy police presence,” adding that the group plans to release more details at a later date.
Another issue the pair said they want to address is the involvement of private corporations in Pride, which some LGBTQ+ groups across the U.S. have criticized as unethical. Critics say that corporations benefit from the visibility and perceived allyship of marching in the Parade while still maintaining internal policies, work conditions, or political donations contrary to LGBTQ+ interests.
Some alternative Pride events and organizations like the Trans Resistance March — which began in response to the controversy around the Boston Pride Committee — have explicitly rejected corporate funding and participation as part of their events.
Meagan von Rohr, the assistant director of the Office of BGLTQ Student Life at Harvard College, said this issue is particularly relevant to Boston.
“Boston Pride before 2020 had a particular reputation for having a large corporate presence and being white,” von Rohr said.
Boulin said the group wants to ensure any corporations involved with the event share their same values.
“We’re vetting our corporations that are involved,” Boulin added.
When asked to specify details of the vetting process, Trigilio said the organization was “still formulating” its plan, but that they were “definitely going to have something we can share soon.”
Megan E.C. Gianniny, co-chair of Harvard’s LGBTQ Staff and Faculty Employee Resource Group, lauded Boston Pride for the People for its messaging so far.
“They’re very focused on the community,” Gianniny said. “And not just corporations that want to give rainbow-washing money.”
“We’re definitely planning to try and have a Harvard contingent in the parade,” Gianniny added.
Von Rohr said she is similarly optimistic for what’s to come.
“I’m really excited for Boston Pride to come back in this way, especially in a way that welcomes every intersecting identity,” Von Rohr said.
Looking forward, Trigilio said they hope Pride “keeps evolving,” in the same way their organization is changing the look of Boston Pride now.
“I hope that Pride through the years is listening to what the community needs because community needs keep changing,” Trigilio said. “As we listen to community needs, we’re responsive and we continue changing and evolving.”
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