Black Lives Matter Boston, members of the Hispanic Black Gay Coalition and supporters challenged systemic racism and corporate “pride” by stopping the Boston LGBTQ Pride March on June 13 for 11 minutes to draw attention to the 11 trans people of color murdered in the U.S. last year and to the lack of representation of people of color in the organizing of the annual parade. (#WickedPissed)
The protesters’ complete manifesto of demands served as an indictment, not just of what has become “corporate gay pride,” but including mainstream lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer organizations in general. It is also a call for the liberation politics that followed the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion, itself led by trans people of color.
As the march of 25,000 reached the corner of Charles and Boylston streets, BLM organizers and supporters entered the parade, stopping its forward movement to forcefully deliver their demands to cheering supporters who lined both sides of the street.
As BLM leader Daunasia Yancey was delivering an “occupy-style” mic check about murdered trans women of color, a contingent of Boston police confronted her and the other protesters, threatening arrest. But organizers refused to back down one inch until the planned protest was over, while the entire scene unfolded before hundreds of cheering onlookers.
A phalanx of supporters from Stonewall Warriors, Boston Feminists for Liberation, the Women’s Fightback Network, Boston FIST, the Boston School Bus Drivers Union and the Boston Homeless Solidarity Committee moved between the police and the demonstrators at one point to defend the action.
Over the years, the Boston Pride Committee has raised fees for marching in the parade to as high as $2,500 per group, with similar charges for reserving a booth at the official Pride Festival. (bostonpride.org) Grassroots and community groups with few resources are effectively prohibited from marching.
Need for ‘inclusion and empowerment’
Corey Yarbrough, executive director of Boston’s Hispanic Black Gay Coalition, the largest people of color LGBT organization here, delivered this statement to Workers World:
“While many view Pride as a time to celebrate and connect with community, it is often a painful reminder for me of the lack of genuine inclusion and empowerment of faces who look like mine. I felt it was my duty to support the protest to bring awareness to what many people of color are still experiencing in Boston’s LGBT community and force those in power to put action behind their symbolic and meaningless rhetoric of diversity and inclusion.
“As the executive director of one of the only LGBT organizations of color in Boston, it is often overwhelming to meet all the unique and important needs of our community. It is more difficult to face these challenges in a climate where resources for LGBT people of color in the city are evaporating and leadership of color at mainstream organizations is becoming more rare. I hope this protest will boldly move the conversation of getting diverse representation of board members and senior staff positions at other organizations forward while opening up avenues for securing greater resources for existing LGBT organizations of color.”
Earlier in the parade, the Boston School Bus Drivers Union carried a banner confronting Mayor Marty Walsh and demanding that he support a fair contract for their union. The union local, more than 800 members strong and 99 percent Haitian, African-American, Latino/a and Cape Verdean, is defending itself against the Veolia Corp., which unjustly fired four union leaders 19 months ago. The union has provided sexual orientation and domestic partner provisions for its members since 1978, years before the city of Boston implemented these laws. (visit tinyurl.com/FBteamsolidarity)