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The Boston Pride group, responsible for organizing New England’s largest annual Pride parade, announced it would shut down all of its operations after being accused by activists of being “racist and exclusionary” and insufficiently supportive of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement.
The organization’s board disbanded and will not hold any of its planned events, leaving an uncertain future for the LGBTIQ movement in the city.
“We know many people care about Pride in Boston, and we encourage them to continue the work. By making the decision to close down, we hope new leaders will emerge from the community to lead the Pride movement in Boston,” the board said in a statement released last Friday. “This decision was made with a heavy heart, out of love and hope for a better future.”
The 2021 parade, which would be the group’s 50th anniversary, was postponed until October due to pandemic concerns, so it is unclear whether any event will be possible this year.
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Boston Pride’s decision came more than a year after the start of an internal conflict that, the Boston Globe reported, was the initial cause of its closure.
“In recent years, Boston Pride has been criticized by some in the LGBTQ community who say it has forgotten its activist mission and has been marketed to by corporate sponsors,” the Boston Globe said. “Many of whom don’t share its other social justice concerns.”
It all started in May 2020 following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, when the Boston Pride board of directors rejected a statement its communications team had prepared and replaced it with a less harsh one without consulting members of the Black Pride subcommittee.
“We wrote in that statement, ‘We stand with Black Lives Matter. We stand against police brutality,'” Casey Dooley, former president of Boston Black Pride, said at the time. He further noted that “the communications team then delivered that letter to the board. But then the board proceeded to eliminate Black Lives Matter and police brutality.”
The conflict then led Boston Pride volunteers to call for the resignation of the entire board, and when they did not receive the expected response, 80% of the volunteers resigned. Some time later they established a rival Pride group, called “Boston Pride 4 People,” and called for a boycott against the organization.
Thus a major Pride organization was cancelled, branded as racist and condemned by its own volunteers for not adhering to the demands of Black Lives Matter.