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The Boston Globe

Ideas

Ideas

How Boston powered the gay rights movement

In the 1970s, a small, staid city laid the intellectual groundwork for the change to come.

Next weekend’s Pride Parade in Boston will cap off an extraordinary run for the gay rights movement. In the past two years, public support for marriage equality passed the 50 percent mark for the first time, and today, it is even higher—69 percent—among people under 30. An unmistakable shift in the political climate has encouraged lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to join CEOs and professional athletes in affirming that gay people should be treated equally in all walks of life.

When most Americans think about the story of gay rights, they look back to New York’s 1969 Stonewall Riots, when gay men in Greenwich Village rose up in response to a police raid and sparked a decade of determined activism. They remember San Francisco’s Harvey Milk, the charismatic leader from the Castro who was elected to the city’s Board of Supervisors in 1977 before being tragically assassinated. Perhaps they remember the National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights of 1979, when around 100,000 people from around the country gathered in the capitol to demand an end to discrimination.

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