Boston Pride kicked off Pride Week on Friday, June 3 with the annual Pride Flag Raising at noon at City Hall Plaza hosted by Mayor Martin J. Walsh. The Pride Flag Raising Ceremony on City Hall Plaza honors the legacy of the late Gilbert Baker who designed the first rainbow flag in 1978 which became a symbol of the LGBTQ rights movement. The flag is a design of one of his original rainbow flags with 8 colors that symbolized the LGBTQ rights movement.
In addition, one of Baker’s original flag designs will be displayed in the Pride Parade as a testament to his grassroots advocacy on behalf of all LGBTQ people. The Pride Flag Raising will also recognize this year’s Grand Marshal Kristen Porter and Honorary Marshals (posthumous), Norman Hill, Dr. Judy Bradford and John Michael Gray.
This year’s theme, “Stronger Together,” focuses on the current climate of political uncertainty and marginalization of LGBTQ people. It stresses the imperative that the diverse groups that comprise the LGBTQ community stand together and fight for civil rights for all. “Stronger Together” is a call to action for all in the LGBTQ community and for its allies.
Pride Week is June 2-11 with the main events taking place on Saturday, June 10 with the Pride Parade that starts at noon in Copley Square, leading to the Festival and free Concert at City Hall Plaza. This is a record year for the Pride Parade with 348 registered marching groups (compared to 257 in 2016) with 80 cars, 40 floats, an estimated 45,000 marchers and estimated 500,000 spectators.
There are several other signature events for Pride Week including Pride Day @ Faneuil Hall on Saturday, June 3 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. which features the inaugural High Heel Dash for Charity at 11 a.m. to raise funds for Boston Pride’s Community Fund. Pride Day @ Faneuil Hall includes performances from the area’s leading drag performers, music and free dance classes including Zumba.
On Monday, June 5, Boston Pride will host a panel discussion at 6 p.m. at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute with the discussion on how the LGBTQ community can advocate for itself in this current political climate. The panelists include Congressman Michael Capuano, Attleboro Mayor Kevin Dumas, Carl Sciortino of AIDS Action and Arline Isaacson of the Mass. Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus. The forum will be moderated by NBC Boston/NECN political reporter Alison King.
This year, Boston Pride has great participation from the region’s professional sports teams. Both the New England Revolution and Boston Red Sox are hosting Pride Nights for fans. Pride Night at Gillette with the Revolution is on June 3 and Pride Night at Fenway, which is in its fifth year, will be held on Friday, June 9. Boston Pride will also be joined by women’s professional sports teams, the Boston Breakers soccer and Boston Pride hockey. Players from both teams are volunteering at the Parade and they are also hosting Pride Nights at their games sometime soon.
On Sunday, June 11, Boston Pride is organizing the “Stronger Together” Rally in solidarity with the Global Equality March for Unity and Pride of Washington, DC. Boston Pride calls on all community members to mobilize and fight for equal rights for everyone. The rally will be held at 11 a.m. at Boston Common where the first Boston Pride rally took place in 1971.
Pride Week comes to a close with the annual block parties held in the Back Bay on St. James Avenue, and in Jamaica Plain on Perkins Street. Both parties will have music, dancing and part of the ticket proceeds will go toward Boston Pride’s Community Fund. For more information on Pride Week visit www.bostonpride.org