Whenever Queer Trans Black friends tell me they’re thinking about coming to visit me in Boston, I immediately reply, “why?” “Never come in the Winter. Fall is chill if you’re in to foliage. Do you like Clam Chowder? There’s not much of a scene. Queer Hip Hop nights are spun by White DJs. That’s pretty much it.
Oh, and it’s super racist,” I add.
Boston is not known for its warmth or hospitality and people here are particularly proud of being “Massholes.” After the news this week about a possible “Straight Pride Parade” happening in Boston this August, I’ll continue to dissuade Black Queer Trans kin from visiting. The proposed “Straight Pride Parade” is as anti-Black as it is homophobic and transphobic but does Boston see it—given the city’s self-aggrandizing elitism and penchant for colorblind racism?
In case you missed it, a group called Super Happy Fun America is trying to organize a “Straight Pride Parade” event. Super Happy Fun America even has a gay “ambassador,” Chris Bartley. Their website says Chris uses his status in the LGBTQ community to challenge heterophobia wherever it exists. He became involved in the straight pride movement after being ostracized from established advocacy groups for merely suggesting that straight people be afforded equal rights. Vice President Mark Sahady is a super happy fun Proud Boy who also organizes with the fascists of Resist Marxism. In August 2017, Sahady and a handful of others organized a “free speech” rally in Boston Common but they were thwarted by thousands of counter protestors, like myself, shouting anti-Nazi and anti-KKK slogans. The group’s president, John Hugo, started Super Happy Fun America in order to advocate on behalf of the straight community. Hugo told The Washington Post, straight people are an “oppressed majority” and “need an outlet to be themselves.”
Boston may be the perfect birthplace to nurture the fledgling “straight pride” movement. In this town, civility is held in highest regard. This climate fosters the belief that cisgendered heterosexual white men are an oppressed majority because it allows and encourages these opinions to be stated without factual contest in social or dialogic spaces, in the name of polite conversation, at the expense of the truly oppressed. As I’ve experienced Boston, those who would challenge this line of thinking, especially as Queer Trans Black people, are quickly tone policed and labeled aggressive or hostile. While this phenomenon is not exclusive to Boston, it is uniquely intellectually frustrating to call out anti-blackness, homophobia, transphobia in Boston amongst liberals who quickly deflect by citing Massachusetts legislation and saying, “we’re not homophobic or transphobic here! We passed marriage equality first in the country and we have such great trans protections! Or, at least we’re not (enter some southern state here).” While these LGBT legislative advances were significant, liberals have a selective memory about Boston’s deep racial tensions and segregation as if riots over school busing did not occur until the late 1980s.
Boston has a hostile parade history as seen in its St. Patrick’s Day parades. Starting in the 1940s, St. Patty’s Day parades were intended to celebrate Irish immigrants’ participation in American life. In Boston, they also became expressions of discrimination against others. In 1964, parade watchers in South Boston pelted an NAACP float with “beer bottles, rocks, cherry bombs and refuse.” In the 1970s, floats opposing the desegregation of Boston Public Schools were met with cheers and Boston Mayor Kevin White, who championed desegregation, was hit with snowballs. LGBT groups were also explicitly banned from marching until recently.
Boston likes to think of itself as far more progressive, liberal, and sophisticated than most of the country. The coastal elitism of Boston is steeped in colorblind racism; Where I grew up—in predominantly White schools— reassured that I was to be treated like my white peers by school administrators because they didn’t see race or my skin color, yet I was often asked where I and my family were “really” from. Boston folks have graduate degrees and voted for Obama twice but pause to tell me, “Kay, you’re so articulate! Oh wait, you have a master’s degree from Boston College?”
As the brilliant scholar and writer Zoe Samudzi (Babywasu) recently said of the parade via Instagram, “let’s actually not think about this as straight people being foolish: let’s think about this as his (Sahady) attempt to publicly mobilize and radicalize white men around heterosexuality as an extension of superior white civilizational identity.”
Seems pretty Boston to me.
Cover photo Vox