My first Boston Pride Parade was a revelation. Leather clad ladies on motorcycles. Gyrating men in their underpants dancing to club beats. A politician or two shaking hands while proclaiming progressive platforms. Local health and advocacy groups tossing beads and colorfully packaged condoms, littering the streets with flyers and candy.
I was mesmerized. I was amazed. I’ve gone back again and again.
In the decade or so that I’ve attended (and once, marched with Greater Boston NOW,) the parade has changed. Perhaps matured? Strong in its themes of inclusivity, celebration, activism, and pride, there have been -over the years- a noticeable reduction in near-nude men festooning flatbed trucks and an increase in religious communities, families, politicians, and corporate allies.
Even though I don’t identify as gay, lesbian, queer, or transgender, I’m never the odd person out at Pride, whatever it’s current styling. Which is more than I can say for a certain high school history class where I slumped, hot-faced and confused, as my teacher rattled on about how gays couldn’t serve in the military because they were too limp-wristed and lisping. (Way to disrespect our service members, Mr. Name-I-Can’t-Recall.)
I’m so grateful to my alma mater for helping to release me from the tight hold of an inherited prejudice. My four years at an arts and communication college in Boston were a key folding back a metal lid, out from which exploded a beautiful confetti.
And thank goodness.