Category: diversity float

Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade Kerfuffle

Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade Kerfuffle

This is not as simple as it sounds, by any means. So stick with me until the end. There’s an interesting twist to this parade deal you probably don’t know about. I didn’t know. I’ve been posting about the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Boston, where the organizers of the event allegedly didn’t want a gay activist group included, without getting some very important information. And then I posted that same group could be included as long as they didn’t show any signs of being gay activists…no gay rights messages, no politics, etc… They couldn’t negotiate a deal and the Mayor of Boston, Marty Walsh, of Irish descent, didn’t bother going to the parade. You would think from most articles this is all so anti-gay and hate…but wait, that’s not the case at all. I promise, it gets better.

The Mayor of Boston said this:

“So much of our Irish history has been shaped by the fight against oppression,” Walsh, the city’s first Irish-American mayor in 20 years, said in a statement.

“As mayor of the city of Boston, I have to do my best to ensure that all Bostonians are free to participate fully in the civic life of our city. Unfortunately, this year, the parties were not able to come to an understanding that would have made that possible.”

But other prominent Democrats in Boston did go and support the event in spite of Mayor Walsh.


This is where it gets more complicated, and interesting because it’s not discussed in detail in most publications. In fact, I found a little spin in most publications…a spin in the sense they didn’t disclose all the information. There was a float put together by two very bright openly gay men who did have a few rainbow flags, and they marched in the Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade. But not with “gay” rainbow flags. Listen to this:

South Boston resident Randy Foster, along with his husband Steve Martin, organized a diversity-themed float that sported rainbow flags but no direct gay rights messages. Foster said the flags represented the proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow in Irish lore, though he acknowledged the gay-rights movement uses a rainbow flag.

“If there’s a dual message to it, we’re OK with it and so are the parade organizers,” said Foster, 48. “We made the point of not making it a gay float. If we’re going to have a message of inclusion, it shouldn’t be for one group.”

This sounds to me a lot like what I’m always discussing here in posts about how the gay community is so diverse, and so unlike what we see in the media. It’s actually what I’ve been predicting all along. Clearly, Foster and Martin didn’t want to be associated with the gay activist group for whatever reason and they showed this by being part of the parade, not being activist about anything, and putting their own spin on the Rainbow Flag. The parade organizers didn’t seem to have an issue with them being gay. Again, no large news organizations that reported this where I looked mentioned Foster or Martin in detail.

It gets even more complicated. In New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio, bless his dear soul, has opted to boycott his own parade in a show of protest. And I’m not even sure what’s been happening in New York at this point. But does this mean he’s boycotting Martin and Foster for being openly gay and marching with a “diversity float?” I don’t have a clue.

You can read more here. This one does mention Martin and Foster’s “diversity float” in the parade. But it’s a little confusing and I couldn’t figure it out at first, so I searched for more.

Here’s another piece in Boston Magazine about it.

And this piece in the Boston Globe gives the reasoning behind the “diversity float” that was in the parade with Foster and Martin. According to this article, the best one I found so far, the parade organizers actually welcomed these gay men personally. And this could be the reason why:

Foster and his friends and neighbors are not marching Sunday as part of a gay organization. They are marching as South Boston residents who have coalesced around building a park in a corner of the neighborhood known as the Lower End. Many of the people working on the float just happen to be gay. And they have been embraced by the Allied War Veterans Council, the parade’s longtime sponsor.

“They know us as their neighbors first and as gay second,” said Foster, an Air Force veteran who served in Desert Storm and who has lived with his husband in South Boston for seven years. Of outside gay groups coming in and hoping to march, he said: “How in the world do you ever get compromise if the first statement out of your mouth is, ‘I’m different than you?’ ”

So there it is. I didn’t get this information through a simple search. Unfortunately, I had to dig to find this particular article buried in between tons of others that portrayed the parade as anti-gay. And I can’t help wonder why. This is probably the best example I’ve seen in years about how diverse the gay community can be, and I think we’ll be seeing a lot more of this in the future.

If anyone from Boston has anything to add to this feel free to comment anonymously. I think this entire story is very telling in the sense that even gays who don’t agree with the loudest gay activists are silenced by the media. I’m not focused as much on the event itself as I am with the fact that I found it so hard to get the full story about the event.