A group of LGBTQ volunteers is demanding an overhaul of the board that organizes the annual Boston Pride parade, accusing the current leadership of white privilege and insensitivity to the public unrest that erupted over police killings of Black people.
The volunteers resigned and called for entirely new leadership that includes queer, transgender, Black and indigenous people, and other people of color, by Aug. 31.
“The lack of diversity throughout the Pride organization indicates that the inability of Boston Pride to address issues of racism and white privilege continues to be systemic,” the volunteers said. They also called for the six-member board to share power and decision-making with the broader volunteer committee that helps stage the annual parade in celebration of LGBTQ pride.
“My experience in working with the board is they experience community voices as antagonistic as opposed to thinking, ‘these are our people,’ " said Jo Trigilio, who resigned from the Boston Pride communications team. “They treat that as some sort of attack as opposed to what it is — people asking them to serve their needs and interests.”
In early June, volunteers were incensed by what they viewed as the Pride board’s tepid statement on the protests that erupted after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis; the Pride board had excised the phrase “Black Lives Matter” from a statement its volunteer communications team had drafted. In response, activists staged a Transgender Resistance Vigil at Franklin Park on the day that Boston’s 50th annual Pride march would have been held. (The parade had been canceled due to coronavirus.)
Participants in the vigil stressed that Pride had begun as a show of defiance against police harassment following the Stonewall uprising in New York City and sought to return it to its roots, saying the Pride parade had become too corporate and friendly with police.
The Pride board revamped its statement to explicitly state it stands in solidarity with the #Black Lives Matter movement and is committed to meeting with Boston police to reconsider their presence and visibility at the annual parades.
Linda DeMarco, the president of Boston Pride’s board of directors, did not comment on Tuesday. But a board spokeswoman pointed to a statement DeMarco released last week that said: “We have heard the voices from our community and we know that Boston Pride must take more substantive steps towards becoming more diverse throughout our organization, including in our leadership.”
That statement also acknowledged a need to do better and noted that the board has hired a diversity and inclusion consultant to work with it.
“The leadership of Boston Pride has committed to dismantling the systemic oppression and individual, interpersonal, institutional and structural racism within its own organization,” the statement said.