Our Mission: Bring Boston Pride Back To Its Roots.
Who We Are
We are a collective of activists united for queer and trans liberation. Though we share a common thread of being LGBTQ+, we represent many intersections of this community. We are Black, Latinx, Indigenous, East Asian, and South Asian. We are transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming. All of us have been marginalized in some way due to our ethnicity, gender identity, ability, class, and immigration status.
What We Believe
We believe in the inherent worth of all LGBTQ+ people; we actively work to ensure the freedom, dignity, and well-being of our entire community. We center the experiences of our most marginalized communities, and seek to reclaim Pride as a protest against police brutality, systems of imperialism, and white supremacy. We believe Pride should be a platform to uplift marginalized voices within the LGBTQ+ community, giving us all the opportunity to move together towards intersectional justice and freedom.
Boston Pride invites corporate sponsors who profit from the pain, exploitation, and destruction of poor and working-class communities of color, along with the ongoing occupation of indigenous land. The current political climate presents an opportunity to reclaim our movement from individuals and corporations that do not have our best interests in mind. We oppose all institutions that are anti-Black, anti-Indigenous, anti-Immigrant, anti-Transgender, anti-Muslim, anti-Poor, and those that perpetuate ableism. We seek to highlight police brutality occurring within the intersections of our community, and to bring justice to those who have been victimized by law enforcement. We believe in a free Palestine, and an end to the occupation of all indigenous land. We believe in putting an end to prisons and mass incarceration, and enacting frameworks of restorative justice and healing, instead of harm and punishment.
We believe that Pride should be both a celebration of our identities and a place where we can come together to envision a world free of oppression. We demand and deserve more from each other and the systems we’re forced to navigate everyday. Now is the time to build something new.
Despite consistent pushback and protest from community members, Pride continues to glorify law enforcement, center the military industrial complex, and uplift corporations that negatively exploit our community.
In particular, we highlight Santander Bank and their direct involvement in the ongoing exploitation of the island of Boriken, also known as Puerto Rico, which has led to the deaths of nearly 5,000 people after Hurricane Maria. Santander profited significantly from the economic exploitation that demolished Puerto Rico’s public assistance programs, slashed investments in infrastructure, and siphoned millions of dollars into the pockets of wealthy executives. Because of its staggering interest rates, one Santander loan cost Puerto Rico $1.5 billion, while another loan required the government to pay back nearly five-times the original amount. All of this money went to wealthy bankers instead of the people of Boriken who need it the most.
Adding insult to injury, the U.S. government recently instituted a financial control board to ensure Puerto Rico prioritize paying back this unwarranted debt (PROMESA), and appointed two top Santander executives that profited most from this exploitation: José Ramon Gonzalez and Carlos Garcia. This is a product of white supremacist systems and colonization.
We believe Santander and other contributors to the debt crisis should be held responsible for the lives lost in Hurricane Maria and the pain and suffering that continues in Puerto Rico. Instead, Boston Pride has uplifted Santander as a sponsor and champion for QTLGB+ rights.
Beyond Santander, Pride continues to allow other sponsors whom exploit and harm our community. Take for example Wells Fargo and TD Bank, and their involvements in the violence against Indigenous communities. Wells Fargo helped finance the Dakota Access Pipeline to the tune of $120 million dollars, and TD Bank supplied over $360 million. Allowing these financial institutions to march alongside us disrespects the sovereignty of tribal lands, two-spirit people, and all indigenous people within the LGBTQ community.
We note the many corporations sponsoring Boston Pride that have provided large sums of money to politicians and lobbying efforts that directly harm our communities, including politicians actively advancing an anti-trans agenda:
- Bank of America has contributed $3.9 million to the Republican Party from 2016–2018, and spent $1 million on Trump’s Inauguration. Bank of America has also lent hundreds of millions of dollars to private prison companies, making them one of the largest profiteers of mass incarceration.
- AT&T has contributed nearly $3 million to the Republican Party from 2016–2018, and donated $2 million to Trump’s Inauguration.
- Microsoft donated nearly $4 million to the Republican Party and Republican candidates between 2016 and 2018. They also spent over $8.7 million in lobbying in 2016 alone.
- Ernst and Young donated nearly $2.5 million to the Republican Party in 2016, and spent another $3.5 million lobbying for bills that protect their business interests over the public good.
- Nearly 70% of Capital One’s political contributions went to the Republican Party in 2016. The company also spent $1.7 million lobbying in 2016.
- Wells Fargo donated nearly $2 million to the Republican Party, and spent over $11 million lobbying to protect their business interests. Wells Fargo also profits significantly from private prisons and mass incarceration.
If this does not show that corporations are more interested in making money than supporting LGBTQ people, we’re not sure what would. The 2018 Pride banners sport this year’s motto “Rainbow Resistance” with a Bank of America logo directly underneath. Tell us: How can Bank of America support our resistance while making political contributions that result in anti-LGBTQ legislation and policies? How can Bank of America support our resistance while profiting from prisons, pipelines, home foreclosures and more? Why are any large corporations brought to sponsor Pride year after year as they literally participate in violence against our community?
Not only does Boston Pride include problematic corporations, but they also now have a track record of including problematic foreign state sponsors. Boston Pride has allowed the Israeli Consulate to march as a group this year. Israel has used their LGBTQ advocacy to distract from their human rights abuses towards the Palestinian people (otherwise known as “pinkwashing”), but there is nothing pro-LGBTQ about military occupation, apartheid, and ethnic cleansing. It is clear that Boston Pride has not done more than the barest minimum of analysis for many of the organizations they choose to include, which raises serious questions about Boston Pride’s own ethics. We stand with the Palestinian people in their struggle for liberation, and against the recent attacks on the Gaza Strip and the decades of state-sponsored violence and occupation of indigenous land.
- We demand that Boston Pride end sponsorships with corporations that are harmful to our community. Companies like Santander, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo should not be at Pride. We demand Boston Pride provide explicit, transparent inclusion criteria to their choice of sponsors.
- We demand changes in the leadership structure of Boston Pride. Year after year activists have demanded changes in Pride, and year after year Boston Pride has provided little to no responses to these demands. We demand Pride restructure the board such that individuals representing community organizations (with an emphasis on those led by communities of color) have a seat at the board. We demand that other community members with no paid affiliation with community organizations also have a seat on the board. Finally, we demand Boston Pride to develop and share their approval process for all new board membership.
- We demand that Boston Pride use its funds from sponsorships to hire part or full-time paid staff (ideally, a community member of color) for the sole purpose of intersectional community organizing.
- We demand Boston Pride remove all endorsement and participation of police in the march, as well as commit to scaling back their presence in future Boston Pride marches.
- We demand that Boston Pride center their work around the most marginalized members of our community (e.g., Black, Indigenous, Latinx, API queer and trans folx).
- We demand Boston Pride act on the requests made by 2015 #WickedPissed that have still been left unaddressed.
The Recent Lackluster History of Boston Pride
Systemic problems with Boston Pride are nothing new. Activists under the banner of #WickedPissed staged an action in 2015, demanding that Boston Pride lower fees for community members, increase diversity amongst Pride leadership, provide more stringent (and transparent) criteria for corporate sponsorships, and acknowledge that Pride has strayed from its original foundation of serving the community to serving those who can provide the most funds associated with sponsorship.
In 2017, we saw activists take action against Boston Pride once again, with the main focal point being the continued exclusion of QTPoC, specifically transgender women of color. Their demands echoed those of #WickedPissed. Boston Pride largely ignored the action, while Boston City Mayor Marty Walsh flippantly pushed by activists without acknowledgment of why they were protesting to begin with. In the same year, other activists from the Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance called out Pride for their lack of inclusion of our non-binary siblings in their messaging.
Boston Pride has a history of excluding the voices of transgender individuals from their messaging, all the way up to their leadership. The current life expectancy for trans women of color in the US is 35 years. Inclusion of transgender folx (especially transgender women and other transgender people of color) in both messaging and leadership is critical in combating the violence this community experiences.
Rumor has it that Boston Pride will be carrying pictures of transgender people murdered this year, a year after protesters did the same. We recognize this as being opportunistic more than anything, given we’ve seen little change institutionally within Boston Pride. Trust cannot be built based on single tokens, and it remains to be seen if Boston Pride will continually represent the transgender community appropriately.
In general, our view is that the responses from Pride have remained tepid, and transparency with their decision making process opaque. The frequent party line from Pride is that anyone can join their board and contribute. But this raises a more important question: Why would you join an organization you cannot inherently trust or feel safe within?
Ultimately, we believe that Boston Pride has significant room for improvement. We have no reason to believe Boston Pride will change without drastic changes in its leadership structure. This is one step, out of many, that could start the cascade of change that Boston Pride so dearly needs.