A small group of organizers say they’re gearing up to host what they’ve dubbed the “Straight Pride Parade” through Boston this summer, a claim that has set off a visceral reaction nationwide and drawn criticism on social media from the likes of Chris Evans and many others as Pride Month gets underway.
But as reports made the rounds on social media Tuesday, landing the “Straight Pride Parade” among the top trends on Twitter, the city clarified that the proposal isn’t exactly set in stone.
While the group has filed a permit application to put together the August parade, the needed permits for such an event have not yet been secured, officials said.
So — is this thing actually happening? Here’s what we know so far:
Ok, what’s this alleged “Straight Pride Parade” all about?
News of the event seems to have stemmed from a tweet this week from Carolyn Ryan, assistant managing editor at the New York Times.
On Tuesday morning, Ryan shared a screenshot of a Facebook post by one of the proposed event’s organizers, which detailed the parade route and claimed the city “is now working with us on the parade.”
“‘Straight Pride’ parade planned in Boston. With floats,” Ryan tweeted.
According to the screenshot of the Facebook announcement, the so-called Straight Pride Parade would tentatively take place on Aug. 31 — a prime move-in day for returning students, mind you — and follow the same route of the city’s annual LGBTQ Pride Parade that’s happening in Boston this weekend.
The event celebrating heterosexuality would include floats and other props and be a “chance to have a patriotic parade in Boston as we celebrate straight pride,” one of the organizers said.
According to a “public event permit” filed with the city, organizers say they expect up to 2,000 people to attend. Twenty security personnel would be on hand, the application states, and there would be dancing, live music, and amplified sound.
Who’s behind the plan to host the “Straight Pride Parade”?
One of the lead organizers pushing for the parade is Mark Sahady. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because he’s the same person from the controversial Resist Marxism group, which hosted the Rally for the Republic on Boston Common in 2017 that attracted swarms of counterprotesters.
Sahady posted last week on Facebook that it looks like the proposed parade “will happen,” but his announcement didn’t get much traction on social media until Tuesday.
A group called Super Happy Fun America — of which Sahady is apparently the vice president — is taking ownership of the parade plans.
In a section on the group’s website about the proposed parade, organizers say the one-day event will “be held to achieve inclusivity and spread awareness of issues impacting straights in Greater Boston and beyond.”
The Globe reached out to Sahady, but did not immediately receive a request for comment. An e-mail sent to an address for him that’s listed on the group’s website bounced back.
However, John Hugo, who bills himself as the president of Super Happy Fun America, told the Globe Wednesday that his group is “not anti-gay, we’re pro-straight.”
“We’re for traditional American values, and there’s nothing wrong with that,” said Hugo, who ran as a Republican for the state’s Fifth Congressional District in November, but lost to Democratic incumbent Katherine Clark.
Where does the city stand on the issue?
According to officials from Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s office, the group planning the “Straight Pride Parade” has been in contact with the city.
Despite some people claiming online that it’s “official,” organizers have yet to receive the necessary permits to hold a parade, the city said. Like any other group, they need to go through the permitting process.
As for Walsh, at first he didn’t directly address the parade, and instead issued a statement Tuesday about the city’s annual Pride Parade and Pride Week celebrations.
“Every year Boston hosts our annual Pride Week, where our city comes together to celebrate the diversity, strength, and acceptance of our LGBTQ community,” Walsh said. “This is a special week that represents Boston’s values of love and inclusion, which are unwavering. I encourage everyone to join us in celebration this Saturday for the Pride Parade and in the fight for progress and equality for all.”
On Wednesday, however, as pushback about the event continued to build, Walsh told reporters that the issues and controversy it has created ahead of Saturday’s Pride Parade “is unfortunate.”
Walsh said he was at a lighting ceremony in the South End Tuesday, for Pride, when he told people “‘don’t even worry about it, there will probably be 10 people at the parade, if he has one.’”
“I’m not going to focus on it,” Walsh added. “Probably the most I’m ever going to say about it is what I said right now.”
For now, it’s wait-and-see.
To hold a public event, applicants may need to get permitted through several departments, according to the city’s website. Currently, they’re still going through the process with the city, officials said.
But Hugo maintains that if the city denies them a permit, the group will file a lawsuit and hold the march.
“We’re going to have to see where this goes. We don’t want to,” he said of potentially suing the city. “We’re not looking for a payday. We just want to have a peaceful, one-day event.”
Walsh admitted Wednesday at a public event that “You can’t really stop a permit, it’s very difficult to stop a permit.”
What are people saying about the “Straight Pride Parade”?
The idea of a parade of people walking through the streets of Boston to celebrate being straight set off a flurry of jokes online as the national media picked up on the proposal.
By Tuesday evening, everyone from George Takei to US Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez were weighing in on it, with many making light of what a Straight Pride Parade would actually look like if it happened.
“Will ‘Straight Pride’ be a Freaky Friday type situation where all of our history books, movies, stories, media, news, etc feature mostly LGBTQ+ people & perspectives? Will people have to come out as straight?,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. “What would folks march in? Socks w/ sandals on? Dad jeans?”
Others posted a tongue-and-cheek parade route that would lead the group into the harbor — instead of through Boston’s neighborhoods — or pointed out that every day is essentially “Straight Pride” day.
Among the critics of the parade plans was actor Chris Evans (aka Captain America), who issued a scathing rebuke of event organizers on Twitter.
What’s more, the late-90s rock group Smash Mouth even had a take on the plan. The band issued a statement on Twitter Tuesday that garnered significant praise for its generous use of exclamation points and a bit of profanity.
For his part, Hugo, one of the main organizers, said he thought it was “really funny” that Hollywood actors have been attacking him and his organization, adding that one of the members of his group is gay.
Will “Straight Pride” be a Freaky Friday type situation where all of our history books, movies, stories, media, news, etc feature mostly LGBTQ+ people & perspectives?— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) June 5, 2019
Will people have to come out as straight?
What would folks march in? Socks w/ sandals on? Dad jeans? https://t.co/7SUiWHWRMd
They're planning a "straight pride" parade in Boston, presumably to commemorate that historic moment when courageous heterosexual frat bros finally stood up to the gay cops who had been harassing and arresting them for decades.— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) June 5, 2019
Wow! Cool initiative, fellas!! Just a thought, instead of ‘Straight Pride’ parade, how about this: The ‘desperately trying to bury our own gay thoughts by being homophobic because no one taught us how to access our emotions as children’ parade? Whatta ya think? Too on the nose?? https://t.co/gaBWtq2PaL— Chris Evans (@ChrisEvans) June 5, 2019
“Straight pride” is the last thing anyone should be celebrating while beautiful members of the LGBTQIA+ community are losing their lives because of who they love and how they love them.— Cameron Kasky (@cameron_kasky) June 5, 2019
My straight pride parade is heading to checkout after selecting socks at Costco— Andy Richter (@AndyRichter) June 4, 2019