Amid Boston Pride Week, ‘Straight Pride Parade’ Draws Attention

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — As Boston celebrated Pride Week, an annual event honoring the L.G.B.T. rights movement that culminates in a parade, another event was drawing a flurry of attention on social media: a “Straight Pride Parade” that several men say they plan to hold in the city in late August.

Officials at City Hall said the organizers have yet to receive a permit for a parade, and it appeared uncertain this week whether the event, described on a website the organizers created, would actually take place. The group had earlier sought an application to raise a “straight pride” flag on City Hall’s flagpoles, a proposal city officials turned down.

It was also unclear whether the real intent of the event was a serious argument that straight Americans were oppressed and needed protection from discrimination, as the website suggests, or if it was meant to be a joke — and if so, what kind of joke.

One of the organizers, John Hugo, said in an interview that the intent was “lighthearted” and that the organizers bore no ill will toward gay people. One of the other organizers was gay, he noted, adding that the parade’s keynote speaker would be “a famous, prominent gay guy.”

“People are really triggered about this,” he said. “We just wanted to have a little parade.”

Mr. Hugo was the Republican candidate for the state’s Fifth Congressional District last fall, losing the election to an incumbent.

He said the organizers were suing the city over its rejection of their request to raise a straight pride flag on the flagpoles — a reference, he later clarified, to their having filed a discrimination complaint with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, a state office. He said the city was flying a rainbow gay pride flag for a week, while his group had asked that its flag be raised only for a few hours.

“We’re not even asking for equality,” he said. “We’re asking for one-seventh of what they got.”

In any case, the concerns of the organizers appeared to extend beyond straight pride.

One organizer, Mark Sahady, is involved with a group called Resist Marxism, which was founded by Kyle Chapman, an alt-right figure who refers to himself as an “American nationalist” and has engaged in violence at street protests. Mr. Sahady has organized “free speech” and pro-gun rallies in Boston that have drawn large numbers of counterprotesters. Mr. Sahady has at times appeared to celebrate the idea of violence against opponents on the left.

“We may get to throw anti-American communists from helicopters sooner than we thought,” he wrote on Facebook a year ago.

Attempts to reach Mr. Sahady were unsuccessful, but Mr. Hugo said The Daily Beast had unfairly portrayed Mr. Sahady as a white supremacist.

“He’s not even white — he’s Arabic,” Mr. Hugo said, adding that racists would not be allowed at the march.

The third organizer, Chris Bartley, is listed on the parade’s website ( as its “gay ambassador.”

To inquiries about the proposed parade, Martin J. Walsh, the mayor of Boston, issued a statement honoring Pride Week.

“This is a special week that represents Boston’s values of love and inclusion, which are unwavering,” the statement said.

Mr. Hugo said he had been overwhelmed by the attention the parade had attracted, saying he had done some 40 interviews in the past two days.

“When I ran for Congress I couldn’t get an interview to save my life,” he said.

Source link