Aug. 31, 2019—“No mainstream media.” -Mark Sahady, Vice President of Super Happy Fun America.
As noon approached, paraders, protesters, and police lined the ins and outs of the parade barriers in Copley Square. Courtesy of the Boston Police Department, reporters and media gradually entered the metal fencing. All people participating in the parade received bracelets lined with yellow smiley faces; press had all-access media passes in addition to the bracelets.
The 2–300 marchers followed videographer for ‘Super Happy Fun America,’ Rob “the Dragon-Slayer” Burke, who led the parade on top of a pick-up truck dressed as Santa Claus. Burke was seen drinking schnapps before the truck started moving. The Trump Unity Bridge, sporting a giant Trump 2020 billboard, followed close behind with the Grand Marshal, Milo Yiannopoulos, on top. Police lined the sides. Along with Santa, ‘Left Shark’ and a blow-up dinosaur both made appearances. ‘Left Shark’ held a ‘Straight Lives Matters’ sign.
Although Sahady made such a statement on arrival to the parade start-line, attorney and columnist, Rinaldo Del Gallo III, stood high on a ladder with a large megaphone to say, “There has been expressions from some members of the police that they are going to extract members of the press. Doing so would be over our objection, doing so would violate our first amendment rights, and doing so would violate the freedom of the press and their rights. The right to speak and the right to be listened to.”
Del Gallo said in the same speech, “If you do get extracted, please contact me and I will file a lawsuit. Am I clear? Am I clear? Is there any confusion?” A crowd member shouted, “They haven’t been extracted! They haven’t been extracted!”
Joanne Granai, a bisexual woman who marched in the parade, said she walked for all the “courageous straights” who made sure she and other bisexuals could walk at LGBT+ Pride. While walking past the Boston Common with yelling from protesters, she said, “Everyone deserves rights.” Granai held up a blue, purple, and pink (the colors of the bisexual flag) pinwheel with words to encompass all sexualities.
One man, Brendan Hoover, was dressed in a clown outfit with green face paint. When asked about the get-up Hoover replied, “This is the Clown World me. We live in Clown World; where words have no meaning. We are here to laugh and then we are here to die.”
To elaborate, he said, “Well, over the past, uhh, I'd say decade or so, I believe that the meaning of words has been diluted. They don't mean anything anymore! Racist, Nazi, bigot, transphobe: all these things, they don't mean a thing anymore! It's crazy how the Left has co-opted these phrases—and weaponized them against people of conservative minds.” The heat made the green paint run down his neck.
“Trump 2020” and “Make Normalcy Normal Again” signs were the two most popular signs. One woman held a, “Who Gave You Life?” poster. A man named Dre stood with a sign saying, ‘Black, Gay, and Not A Liberal #walkaway.’ When asked about the parade, he stated, “I am not a white supremacist. This doesn't look like white supremacy to me. I see nothing that says white supremacist. And I am here as an independent, sharing my own personal message, neither for or against Straight Pride. I'm really just exercising free speech. That is all.”
Almost to the end, law enforcement blocked the original parade entrance to City Hall Plaza. Protesters pushed in so the final way to enter the pavilion was through a streamlined force of police and buses. BPD only allowed a select number of people in and those with bracelets or media passes came first. Even if a person had a media badge, there was a possibility they wouldn’t be able to go inside.
Super Happy Fun America leaders and volunteers waited down on the stage with blaring classical music while supporters had their bags checked. As people slowly arrived to the Plaza, the man in the blow-up dinosaur costume went to the front of the stage to advertise SHFA’s Straight Pride t-shirts.
Parade goers both sat and stood all around the Plaza before being called to the front for the National Anthem, sung by Grace Cook. Outside the gates, protesters knelt.
Those who were able to get into City Hall Plaza watched as President John Hugo, VP Sahady, and Grassroots Organizer Samson Racioppi took center stage to introduce the speakers. Behind them, the Straight Pride flag was held up by a volunteer.
Dr. Felecia Nace, the science adviser, talked about LGBT sex-education in school and how she believes it doesn’t belong in the curriculum.
The next speaker, Teresa Stephens-Richenberger, was the spiritual advisor for SHFA. After getting on the stage she stated, “If you do not teach your children, the world will. And I want to say this: If you are gay and out there today, I am not hating on you. But I will say something—I want to apologize for the pastors or the leaders that have not spoke truth to you and told you it's okay, that's a lie.” Stephens-Richenberger’s words were backed with cheers from the crowd.
Other speakers were ‘Barbara from Harlem,’ Marvina Case, GNotes Justice who performed 3 raps, Del Gallo also spoke for two minutes, finally followed by Hugo, Sahady and Racioppi.
The supporters dispersed from City Hall Plaza at 4 p.m. There are plans for more Straight Prides in the future.
Straight Pride Parade Takes Over Boston—Protest
The opposition outweighed the supporters by hundreds. The loose waves of Antifa, a left-wing group of people that protest groups and events who they believe are detrimental to the greater good, made themselves known halfway through.
Previously flags, a pile of burning sticks laid on the ground next to a protesting brass band and two people standing on the grass with black bandannas over their faces.
As the crowd of supporters moved through the scattered parade route, protesters grew increasingly louder with different chants bolstered by horns, whistles and claps. As the crowd shouted, “Boston Hates You,” a lone parader with a tongue piercing retaliated with, “Boston Hates Mexicans!” A marching woman referred to the protesters as “vermin.”
Police brutality was present as well. A protester, Elijah Pinney, said that he saw a police officer take a cane from an older disabled woman. He heard the officer yell that it was a weapon when, “it was clear [to Elijah] she needed it to walk.” While standing behind the lines, Pinney and his partner got secondhand pepper sprayed by police. A photographer, along with other people, was shoved into the crowd by other officers. Near the end of the route, media surged the barriers in order to see Quincy Police officers surround a patrol van where someone allegedly threw a rock into the crowd.
Mass Media contributing writer, J. Hollis, reported that, “By approximately 3:15 p.m., 30–40 ‘Straight Pride’ rally supporters had been gathered on the rear (closer to Haymarket) side of City Hall Plaza. At least fifty feet away, the barricades began; by the barricades, another supporter with a megaphone called out such phrases as, ‘We stand on the site of a great White Pride gathering many years ago,’ to the assembled hundreds of counter-protesters.
Along the barricades, members of the Boston Police Department, the Massachusetts State Police and the Quincy Police Department [etc] stood guard, almost all with their backs turned to the encircled ‘Straight Pride’ demonstrators. Three counter-protesters stood by the Holocaust Memorial, bearing signs reading ‘Broflake: Noun. Straight white male offended by a feminist, ethnic, or LBGTQ+ activity which is not directly designed for him’ and ‘WE WILL NEVER BE ERASED.’ One of these people bore the trans flag and another a rainbow bandanna. They wished to remain anonymous, and when asked what ‘Straight Pride’ meant to them they said, ‘Straight Pride is hate pride, it represents homophobia, bigotry, transphobia, and Trump 2020.’
At this point, one person gestured to a Trump 2020 flag draped over the barricades by the man with the megaphone. They then indicated another person standing by an Anonymous [the organization] flag identified as ‘Greg,’ whom they said was familiar with many of the groups and individuals participating in the rally. During a brief discussion with ‘Greg,’ he said that ‘Straight Pride' to him was bigoted hate speech that should be loudly ridiculed and diminished by a larger counter-protest.
By this point, the rally's permit was close to officially over—the event was scheduled to end at 4 p.m. Along the closed-off street by Haymarket, large throngs of people seemed to be heatedly discussing and heckling supporters and allies of the Straight Pride rally. In this area, a man who wished to remain unidentified had a sign that read ‘No pride in beeing [sic] Nazi’ on one side, and ‘Hanging Nazis is my heritage’ on the other.
Many attendees dispersed on foot. An unnamed man, who said he was a Republican since Reagan and there in support of the rally's idea asserted that, ‘those guys [Straight Pride organizers] are clowns, but they just trolled those idiots into getting arrested.’ ”
Sergeant Detective John Boyle of the Boston Police Department, Office of Media Relations, confirmed that 34 arrests were made.