March 16 — Solidarity overwhelmed bigotry on the streets of South Boston this St. Patrick’s Day weekend. For 20 years the Allied War Veterans organization has rejected openly lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people from marching in its traditional St. Patrick’s Day Parade, as well as anti-war and peace groups led by the local Smedley Butler Brigade of Veterans for Peace. The VFP has organized an alternative Peace Parade for the last five years, marching just behind the traditional parade with a contingent inclusive of all LGBTQ and peace-loving groups.
The Boston area corporate media have portrayed this struggle narrowly, as being just between one LGBTQ group, Mass Equality, and the Allied War Veterans, with daily updates on the status of alleged negotiations between the two. Their aim is to render invisible and isolate the strong — and more troubling to the bourgeoisie — anti-war message of the Vets for Peace and the many peace groups they have been leading. The attempt by Mayor Marty Walsh and the bigots of the Allied veterans to “broker” an agreement that would have allowed just one LGBTQ group to march, though not openly and without signs or messages, was a colossal and embarrassing failure.
Instead, close to 2,000 marched in the alternative Peace Parade led by the VFP’s national leadership, with dozens of groups participating. Among them were the Stonewall Veterans Association and Erica Kay-Webster, an original Stonewall Rebellion combatant. She told Workers World, “I am here to show support for all these organizations marching for justice. Our struggle is not over!”
Marching with her were the Pride Boston Organizing Committee, which unanimously voted to support the Peace Parade, along with the leadership of the National Lavender Caucus of the Service Employees union; GALLAN (Gay and Lesbian Labor Activist Network)/Pride at Work AFL-CIO; Stonewall Warriors/International Action Center; Dignity Boston; Get Equal; and Safe Homes for LGBTQ youth.
Leaders from United Steelworkers Local 8751, the Boston School Bus Union, which has been fighting the Veolia corporation’s union-busting attempts since last October, led the labor contingent. Strains of the old union hymn, “Which Side are You On?” emanated from their sound truck. Speakers from UNITE/HERE Local 26, the Boston Bolivarians and the Women’s Fightback Network gave powerful solidarity messages to thousands of friendly onlookers along the parade route.
The anti-war and climate-change movements marched in contingent after contingent, opposing U.S. support for right-wing and fascist groups operating in Iran, Syria, Venezuela and Ukraine. These groups included Dorchester People for Peace, Peace Action, 356 Mass.org, South Boston Residents for Peace, Jewish Voice for Peace, United National Anti-War Coalition, Bikes Not Bombs, Walpole Peace and Justice, the Peace Collaborative, and many more.
WW photos: Stevan Kirschbaum