Massachusetts is well-known as a liberal state. I mean, the abolitionist and women’s rights movements started in Boston. Massachusetts was also the first state to legalize gay marriage, a fact that its residents hold with pride.
A lot of pride.
Last weekend was the main weekend of Boston Pride Week, a seven-day festival celebrating LGBTQ culture. My friend and I, never adverse to racking up more volunteer hours, decided to help out at the event. I’d never been to Boston Pride before– in fact, I haven’t even heard of it before now.
On Saturday morning, I traveled out to City Hall Plaza with little expectations. My friend and I arrived early, so we decided to take some time to peruse the many booths.
I admit, I’ve never been involved with the LGBTQ community. So it was a pleasant surprise to see the number and scope of organizations set up around the square.
And these organizations were very generous. It was freebies abound!
Ok, so we didn’t get just condoms.
Ok, ok, there was other stuff too.
After collecting free stuff for an hour or two, it was finally time for our shift. We checked in at the volunteer tent and donned our badges and t-shirts. My friend and I were sent to the end of the parade route, where we were to make sure the floats didn’t run anyone over.
This was a valid concern.
Because it was packed.
The Boston Pride parade is a huge thing, as I found out. One of the head organizers announced that it was the second-largest LGBTQ parade in the nation. I believe it. Thousands and thousands of people lined up on the street to watch the paraders march by.
And there was a lot to watch! Apparently, the parade doubled in participants this year. I had a prime spot to enjoy the three-hour parade.
Even Jason Collins, the NBA player and also the first American professional athlete to come out, showed up.
Which was really cool. Actually, the whole parade was really cool. The cheering from the spectators was deafening. It was amazing to see so many people support a community that has been stigmatized for so long. Here, people could dress up, strut their stuff, and just have a good time. Hey, I’m no stranger to people in costume.
After the parade, my friend and I returned to the volunteer tent.
We shook our heads. I was imagining that Carmen was some drag performer famous in the gay community. We were led to the side of the street where we waited for Carmen to show up.
A limo pulled up.
The doors opened, and Carmen emerged. Except instead of a man in drag, as I expected, a guy in Red Sox gear emerged. He looked kind of familiar…
A woman followed him. Suddenly, I recognized them. And my jaw dropped.
It was Karmin!
Karmin, the musical duo responsible for the song Brokenhearted and also known for their covers of Look At Me Now and Super Bass. I happen to be a big fan of them. And now they were five feet in front of me!
I think the lead singer, Amy, saw my shock, because she cracked a grin. As a volunteer, I couldn’t ask for photos– but walking beside them to the stage was already cool enough.
They’re just as good live as they are in studio. The performance was awesome.
If you can’t already tell, I thought Boston Pride was awesome. Really, it’s an incredible event. The entire time, I couldn’t get over just how many people were there. How many rainbow flags were flying around Boston. How many people could accept and embrace those who are different from them.
Sure, there was the occasional aggressively heterosexual family:
…but it seemed to be the minority. For this weekend, anyway. As I learned from older volunteers, this wasn’t always the case. The first Boston Pride was 43 years ago– and, as you can imagine, things were a lot different then.
So, the next day, when I worked the Boston Pride Block Party, it made me very happy to how many people showed up.
Since, you know what? I’m straight. My friend is queer. We share a friend who’s bi. This weekend, all of us– and also the gays, the lesbians, the asexuals, the transgenders, everyone, no matter your sexual orientation– could come together and have a good time.
We’ve come a long way. It’s still a while before the discrimination ends, of course. But here, at least, people have finally realized– in the end, Boston just wants to party!