. . . none other than the man who has been a stalwart ally of Boston’s LGBT community for the past 20+ years, the honorable Mayor Thomas Menino.
You may know him as the guy who has won five consecutive elections, earning himself the title of longest-serving mayor of the city; or you may remember him as the recovering patient who, upon getting word of the marathon bombings, checked himself out of the hospital in order to rush to the aid of his city; you almost definitely know him as the mumbling man who, at times, speaks just coherently enough to avoid the need for subtitles. One thing is for sure, however – he has always been known as a politician who never minced words when it came to LGBT equality.
On June 8, Mayor Menino will serve as Grand Marshal of the 43rd annual Boston Pride Parade. The parade’s theme this year is “Moving Forward … Proud, Strong, United,” a reference to overcoming the many struggles the community has faced over the years. Menino is a perfect choice to preside over this event, having been a progressive ally in the fight for equal rights throughout his public service in Boston – just take a look at his track record, as outlined in a thoughtful article from Bay Windows:
- As a City Councilor during the height of the AIDS epidemic, Menino bravely advocated for “prevention, care, and compassion” in a political environment that didn’t favor such comments.
- He established City Hall as the site for BAGLY’s annual prom for LBGT youth, where it has been held for the past 16 years.
- After Massachusetts legalized gay marriage, Mayor Menino stood in City Hall Plaza and welcomed the first gay couples who arrived seeking licenses.
- Perhaps most memorably, he wrote an open letter to Dan Cathy, the president of fast food chain Chik-Fil-A and an active contributor to anti-gay organizations, in which he made it very clear that this restaurant was not welcome in Boston. In part, it said: “We are indeed full of pride for our support of same-sex marriage and our work to expand freedom to all people. We are proud that our state and our city have led the way for the country on equal marriage rights…”
While many have mourned his decision to not seek re-election this fall, it’s important to recognize all that he was able to accomplish, and not only all the actions he’s taken in to improve this city, but also for promoting a welcoming disposition. He himself was considered an outsider when he, a politician of Italian descent, took a position previously held by a long line of predominantly Irish-Americans.
“Jobs, graduation rates, construction, and credit ratings are all at a record high. Population, school enrollment, crime rates, and housing all have hit their best mark in years. Boston’s neighborhoods are thriving as they never have,” he noted, after making his big announcement on March 28. “Most important to me, we are a more open and accepting city. It was a new day when you picked a mayor with Italian grandparents. It’s a much newer day now.”
As we leave behind a turbulent past and emerge “Proud, Strong, and United” with Boston Pride 2013, it is only fitting that we invite Mayor Menino, an outspoken champion of equality for all Bostonians, to celebrate beside us.
Check out Boston Pride’s website for a complete calendar of all 2013 Pride Events.