What to Know
- Protests are planned for the event that comes while many university students are moving in for the year
- The head of the Straight Pride Parade's organizers has said, "We don't hate anyone," but many LGBT groups have spoken out against the idea
Boston's controversial Straight Pride Parade is scheduled for Saturday. It's an event that has drawn national attention, as well as derision.
What is it, and how did it all get started? And how crazy could things get in Boston on Saturday?
Here's what we know so far:
What is the Straight Pride Parade?
The parade, organized by a group calling itself Super Happy Fun America, is scheduled to start at noon Saturday in Copley Square, ending at Boston City Hall with speeches. The parade is expected to include a pro-Trump vehicle and floats, and former Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos, who has been banned from several social media services, is expected to serve as grand marshal.
Its route takes it right through downtown Boston during what is traditionally a busy move-in weekend for colleges across the city. That's already brought outcry from the head of Emerson College.
Police are already making plans to deal with any parade-related issues and released their "comprehensive operational plan" Friday.
Undercover officers will be deployed during the parade, police said, and gave an extensive list of items that are banned from the event. Read more here.
In-depth news coverage of the Greater Boston Area.
Why is it happening?
The Boston parade was organized as a response to the city's annual Pride Parade held each year in June. But the people behind the Straight Pride Parade have denied that the event is about hate.
"We're a sexual orientation just like many others," John Hugo, the president of Super Happy Fun America, said back in June. "We don't hate anyone. We just want to have our own celebration just like everybody else has a right to. All people from all communities are welcome, so long as they show mutual respect."
Organizers of the parade told USA Today on Wednesday that their movement is "one of unity and love, not one of ignorance. They invited "all races, genders, and sexual orientations" to participate.
What does Boston's LGBTQ community think?
The Boston Globe says the LGBTQ community is somewhat divided in its response to the Straight Pride Parade.
The organizers of Boston Pride said they are trying to ignore the event.
"It has become increasingly clear that the Straight Pride Parade is organized by a group of white supremacists and is an attempt to bait the Boston LGBTQ community," the organization said in a statement to the Globe. "It’s a trolling event, designed to get a rise out of vulnerable communities."
The Massachusetts Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus issued a statement saying they are "saddened" that the prade will take place.
"The extreme right-wing individuals organizing this event are attempting to mock the very legitimate celebration that LGBTQ people have enjoyed for decades," the statement said. "We reject the cynical and childish action by the self-professed straight men who organized this week’s event and we know that they represent only a small minority of ill intended reactionaries who are motivated more by hate than anything else."
MassEquality, a grassroots advocacy organization that works to ensure Massachusetts residents can "thrive without discrimination and oppression based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression", issued a statement saying they rejected the idea on the parade organizers' website "that straight people are oppressed."
"Straight people's rights are not diminished when society makes room for LGBTQ people. There is space at the table for all of us. MassEquality supports a vision where we live together in peace," Acting Executive Director Robb Johnson of MassEquality said.
What are others saying?
Emerson College President Lee Pelton issued a campus-wide message earlier this week slamming the Straight Pride Parade, calling it "a perversion" and a "desecration of beauty, truth and generosity."
He pulled no punches in a message emailed to students and faculty and posted on the Emerson website, saying the motivation for the event "is ignorance, fear, and its hideous offspring, hate."
"The Straight Pride Parade is a perversion," he added. "It is a desecration of beauty, truth, and generosity, and that is why we must call it out, call it what is, with a loud, clear, unambiguous and unified voice. Nothing less will do."
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh has spoken out against the parade too, but said there is nothing the city can do to stop it. He said he will not be attending.
The idea of the parade has also been skewered nationally by people like Stephen Colbert of "The Late Show." The 90’s pop band Smash Mouth was more direct, tweeting, "Straight Pride Parade!?! [Expletive] Off."
How many people are expected to attend?
Organizers said they expect 2,000 people to attend.
However, a similar parade last weekend in Modesto, California, drew about 20 marchers and not the estimated 500 that had been predicted. But more than 200 counter-protesters showed up, according to Newsweek.
Are any protests expected in Boston?
One group, calling itself "Fight Supremacy: Hands Off Our Pride," has scheduled a rally from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday in City Hall Plaza.
"It’s harmful. It’s dangerous," counter-protest organizer Monica Cannon-Grant told Boston.com. "There are literally black trans women dying just because they’re living their truth. There are non-binary folks dying and being discriminated against with housing and employment, just for being who they are. So the thought that we need a 'straight pride' parade is disrespectful and arrogant."
Another group of protesters, "Straight Pride is Hate Pride," plans to meet at the Boston Public Garden by the Arlington Street T stop at 11 a.m. before marching to Copley Square.
And what was all that talk about glitter bombs earlier this summer?
In July, suspicious letters were sent to the main organizers of the Straight Pride Parade, prompting bomb squads to respond to locations in Woburn, Salisbury and Malden.
A source said glitter and verses from the Bible were found in the letters, and police said no laws were broken.