About a dozen LGBTQ activists of Color and allies participated in a sit-in to disrupt and shut down the 45th Annual Boston Pride Parade. The sit-in served to refocus attention on those most marginalized in the LGBTQ community, honor the lives of trans women of color, and raise awareness to the lack of representation and resources available to LGBTQ people of Color in Boston. The sit-in intentionally lasted for 11 minutes to symbolize the 11 lives of transgender individuals who have been murdered in the United States this year.
A statement released around the time of the protest acknowledged the success of securing same-sex marriage in Massachusetts while also pointing out the failure of the mainstream LGBTQ community to respond to the murders of transgender individuals of color:
"...We won't wait for the advances of the most privileged of our community to trickle down to the rest of us.
Trans women of color are being beaten down and slaughtered. In the United States alone, eleven trans women have been brutally murdered this year. Every two days, somewhere in the world, a trans woman of color will be murdered! Today, we act to disrupt pride for eleven minutes to honor and bring awareness to the lives of each trans person murdered this year.
We live in a society that has declared war on Black people, women, immigrants, trans people, poor people, and - at the intersection of all that - trans women of color. It is the duty of the entire LGBTQ community to stand united and prove that all of our lives matter," read part of the statement.
The statement continued by making specific demands to the mainstream LGBTQ community in Boston as well as Boston Pride, the organizers of the annual Boston Pride Parade.
The statement demanded Boston Pride diversify its Board of Directors to be more representative of the Boston LGBTQ community, such as adding transgender individuals, more people of color, and low-income residents. The statement also called on Boston Pride to adjust the parade route to incorporate neighborhoods of color, stop prioritizing corporations with a record of bringing harm to communities of Color, and to make the Boston Pride Parade more accessible to smaller non-profits and groups by adjusting their marching fees.
For the larger Boston LGBTQ community, the statement called for more LGBTQ leaders of Color (including Transgender individuals of Color) in senior management positions at LGBTQ organizations, more resources to support LGBTQ organizations of Color and an intentional effort by the larger community to acknowledge and do more to respond to racism in the city.
Using #WickedPissed (as opposed to Boston Pride's official hashtag #WickedProud), the group also created buzz on social media throughout the Boston Pride Parade on how the annual celebration is exclusionary to people of Color, transgender communities, low-income communities, and small non-profit organization. Others participated by contributing their own thoughts on how the Boston community excludes those most marginalized in the LGBTQ community and offering their suggestions on how the city can do better.
The full statement released by the Boston Pride Parade protesters is below.
Today, we, as LGBTQ people of Color and allies, are interrupting the 2015 Boston Pride Parade. We are living in a rapidly changing country experiencing unprecedented waves of protest and dissent. We've seen the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement in response to the systematic degradation of Black lives and the murder of Black people. We've seen trans visibility explode and Black trans women become the most prominent spokeswomen of the trans community. We've seen the movement for same-sex marriage become unstoppable as federal LGBTQ employment protections stall in Congress and abortion rights are continuously chipped away. We've seen the most vulnerable members of our community, trans women of color, murdered at alarming rates and burdened with discrimination, poverty, abuse and unemployment.
...And yet Boston Pride remains the same.
We are a group of Black, [email protected], Asian, and white people, queer and trans allies who are interrupting this annual party to declare that all our struggles are interconnected. We won't wait for the advances of the most privileged of our community to trickle down to the rest of us.
Trans women of color are being beaten down and slaughtered! In the United States alone, eleven trans women have been brutally murdered this year. Every two days, somewhere in the world, a trans woman of color will be murdered! Today, we act to disrupt pride for eleven minutes to honor and bring awareness to the lives of each trans person murdered this year.
We live in a society that has declared war on Black people, women, immigrants, trans people, poor people, and - at the intersection of all that - trans women of color. It is the duty of the entire LGBTQ community to stand united and show that all of our lives matter.
YOU'VE GOT MARRIAGE - WHAT DO WE HAVE??
Our Demands of Boston Pride:
We demand fair and equitable Pride Fees.
It is an outrage that community organizations and nonprofits serving the most vulnerable of our LGBTQ community cannot afford to march. We demand a higher corporate rate that covers the expense and fees for small nonprofit organizations to participate in Pride. If corporations are going to use Pride to profit from our community, they can at least pay more for the opportunity.
We demand that Boston Pride take their hands off Black and Latino Pride.
We demand that the funding allocated to Black and Latino Pride events be free of interference from Boston Pride's predominately white board of directors, and used by the Black and Latino LGBTQ community as they see fit.
We demand more diversity in the board of directors for Boston Pride.
We demand that the board represent our community by recruiting people of color, trans people, and working-class people. We demand a Pride board as diverse as our community, and not solely comprised of wealthy white capitalist gays and lesbians.
We demand that corporate sponsors be approved not only based on how they treat their LGBTQ employees, but how they treat their customers and the communities in which they operate.
Big bank sponsors and participants are complicit with gentrification and predatory lending that have had devastating impacts on communities of color. There's no pride in corporate destruction of Black and Brown communities! We demand a review board of all corporate sponsors that will reject corporations that exploit the most vulnerable of our community.
We demand a Pride parade route that marches through a community of color.
Hosting Boston Pride in the South End and Downtown area purposely excludes communities of color and perpetuates the idea that communities of color are somehow more homophobic than white people. We all know better and demand a Pride that includes our neighborhoods!
We demand that Boston Pride remembers that Pride started as a riot led by trans and gender non-conforming people of color!
Our liberation as LGBTQ people isn't finished. Without the liberation of all oppressed people, it will never be complete. We demand that Pride themes focus on the political issues of our diverse community. We don't need more parties and meaningless themes. We need justice.
Our Demands of the Boston LGBTQ community:
We demand Boston's mainstream LGBTQ organizations hire more LGBTQ leaders of color in senior management positions.
We demand more transgender women of color hired in leadership roles at Boston's mainstream LGBTQ organizations.
We deserve shelter reform for LGBTQ youth of color and trans individuals of color. LGBTQ youth are overrepresented in homeless youth, and yet there is currently only one youth shelter in the area that accommodates their needs. We demand fully funded youth shelters and reform of the Department of Children & Families (DCF) to provide help to LGBTQ children from homophobic and transphobic families.
We demand the mainstream LGBTQ community acknowledge the growing HIV and STI rates in neighborhoods of color in Boston. Despite the rates of HIV/STIs decreasing for white gay men, it has increased in Black and Latino MSM and trans communities. We demand our community respond by developing an LGBTQ health center in a community of color. We demand accessible education and resources that aren't coupled with criminalization and racism.
We demand all transgender health care, including gender-affirming surgeries, be included into MassHealth and all Massachusetts health care plans at no extra cost, under an informed consent model and without gatekeepers, especially for transgender minors.
We demand our community come together to fight the recent closing of health centers operated by and for people of color, such as the Latin-American Health Institute (LHI) and Massachusetts for Asian and Pacific Islander Health (MAP for Health).
We demand our community come out publicly against holding the 2024 Olympics in Boston. The Olympics will bring unprecedented gentrification, surveillance, cutting of social services, and punitive policing to our city.
We demand more city funding be funneled to LGBTQ organizations of color and safe spaces.
We demand our community finally acknowledge the systemic racism in this city.
Boston is consistently listed by many media sources as one of the most racist cities in the US. We demand the City of Boston commit itself to ending the assault/harassment of LGBTQ people of color by the Boston Police Department.