Pride Month kicks off in Boston on Tuesday with a lights event, a paint night — and preparations for a possible “Straight Pride Parade” this summer.
The event to celebrate heterosexuality in one of the nation’s most gay-friendly cities is meant to poke fun at the “identity politics” of the political left, organizer Mark Sahady wrote in a Facebook comment.
The parade organizers have designed a flag and designated actor Brad Pitt as their “mascot.”
“For them everything is based upon identity and whether or not one is categorized as a victim or an oppressor,” Sahady wrote on Facebook. “If you get victim status then you are entitled to celebrate yourself and expect those with oppressor status to defer to your feelings.”
Sahady has also organized “free speech” rallies and a gun rights demonstration with the group Resist Marxism, whose website says it tries to “defend the Constitution against violent extremists and the regressive left.” Resist Marxism clashed with the city of Boston over permitting for at least one of its previous events, according to Boston.com.
Organizers of the Straight Pride Parade tentatively plan to host the event Aug. 31, Sahady wrote, and have filed a discrimination complaint against Boston for permission to fly their straight pride flag.
The parade will include floats and vehicles, Sahady wrote, and will run from Copley Square to City Hall — the same route as the official Pride parade will take Saturday.
John Hugo, one of the Straight Pride Parade’s organizers, told The Washington Post that the keynote speaker would be “a very famous gay conservative,” whom he declined to name. As the LGBT acronym grows to also include queer, intersex and asexual people, Hugo and his fellow organizers want to add an “S” for “straight,” he said.
Criticizing Massachusetts’s efforts to support the gay community is unfairly labeled as hate, Hugo said, and the parade organizers “feel we’re an oppressed majority.”
“We want tolerance, and we want tolerance for everybody — not just the LGBTQ community,” Hugo said.
Hugo, a Republican, sought a congressional seat in Massachusetts’s 5th District last fall. He ran on a platform of eliminating the national debt, “respect for law and order,” confirming legal literalist judges, and focusing on how “We are all one race — the human race.”
A third organizer of the parade describes himself as a “gay ambassador” who challenges “heterophobia.”
In a statement, Mayor Marty Walsh (D) declined to specifically address the Straight Pride Parade. Instead, he focused on LGBTQ pride and encouraged people to attend the official Pride parade and advocate equality for all.
“Every year Boston hosts our annual Pride Week, where our city comes together to celebrate the diversity, strength and acceptance of our LGBTQ community,” Walsh said in a statement. “This is a special week that represents Boston’s values of love and inclusion, which are unwavering.”
The Straight Pride Parade parallels similar calls by other majority groups that see themselves as persecuted. Some white voters who feel a strong attachment to their race have called on Congress to pass a law designating one month of the year as White History Month.
Boston has a history as a safe haven for the LGBTQ community. Massachusetts was the first state to legalize same-sex marriage in 2004. In May of that year, Boston-area residents Marcia Kadish and Tanya McCloskey became the first same-sex couple in the United States to get married. The powerful advocacy group GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders was founded in Boston and is still located there.
News of the Straight Pride Parade took off on social media, with hundreds of people cracking jokes about the event and others calling it “sad.”
Linda DeMarco, the president of Boston Pride, which is organizing this month’s Pride Parade, said her group is focused on what she thinks will be the largest Boston Pride parade ever.
“We know that straight allies of the LGBTQ community are among the thousands of supporters who come out every year to march, observe and celebrate,” DeMarco said in a statement to The Post. “We are looking forward to seeing our straight friends, family, and neighbors at the Boston Pride parade and festival this Saturday along with members of the LGBTQ community.”
Chasten Buttigieg, the husband of 2020 Democratic presidential contender Pete Buttigieg, issued a statement on Twitter about the nuances of identity based politics — why having a pride-styled event for a dominant group like heterosexuals wasn’t to be equated with something like gay pride.
“Questions you may want to ask yourself before organizing an identity based parade: Is it/ was it ever legal for me to be jailed for my identity? Can I be denied housing/health services because of how I identity? Is it legal to kill me in other countries for how I identify?” he wrote. “Could I be kicked out of the military for how I identify? Is it/ has it ever been illegal for me to marry others of the same identity? Just to start.”
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) weighed in in a similar vein, tweeting: “Will “Straight Pride” be a Freaky Friday type situation where all of our history books, movies, stories, media, news, etc feature mostly LGBTQ+ people & perspectives?”
Eli Rosenberg contributed to this report.