Routes of Pride 1971

Retracing Boston's First GLBT Pride March




The first official Gay Pride March in Boston was held on Saturday, June 26, 1971. This was a distinctly political event that was preceded by a full week of workshops on various issues affecting the emerging gay community, such as coming out and gay spirituality. The march route encompassed four major stops: the Bay Village bar Jacques, Boston police headquarters onBerkeley Street, the State House on Beacon Hill, and St. Paul's Cathedral on Tremont Street. At each stop, a speaker presented a list of demands. When the marchers arrived at the State House, a call was issued to include homosexuals in civil rights legislation and eliminate anti-sodomy statutes dating from Puritan times. Speaker Laura McMurry told the throng, "As gay people, we have been given a second-class citizenship. We demand an end to this now! We willnot be put down any longer."


The flyer for Boston's first Gay Pride Week was distributed from friend to friend, and acquaintance to acquaintance, as well as through the newsletters of the city's few gay and lesbian organizations. This flyer rather neatly summed up the intentions of the Pride organizers, as well as the significance of the date in June: "Two years ago on June 27, homosexuals in New York City for the first time refused OPPRESSION AS USUAL. They stood upwhen the Stonewall Bar on Christopher Street was raided ... We and others across the nation commemorate that event this June. We celebrate the awakening of a vigorous gay pride and self-respect."


The flyer went on to briefly describe the route of this march, the same route we will be taking today though Bay Village, Back Bay, and Beacon Hill: "We will march to four places in Boston symbolic of oppression to homosexuals (a church, gay bar, police state, and the StateHouse) and demand of each an end to oppression. [A r]ally, closet-smashing, book-dumping in the Boston Common afterward." The next day, on Sunday the 27th, members of Boston's gay and lesbian community would charter a bus to New York City to take part in that city's Pride celebrations.


At each of those four sites, a speech was made and a list of demands was presented. This walking tour follows the route of Boston's first Gay Pride March in 1971 and offers information about different services, community organizations, issues, and individuals related to this route.



Site 1: Jacques Cabaret (79 Broadway)


Opened in 1938, Jacques became a gay bar in the mid-1940s. In 1965, its owner also opened, directly across the street, The Other Side, the first discotheque in the city to allow same-sex dancing. After serving as the city's only lesbian bar from the late 1960s to the early 1970s, Jacques evolved into a venue for drag performers, which remains its focus to today. The OtherSide (78 Broadway) closed in 1976, due to noise complaints from neighbors. This block was also a onetime home to other bars that catered to Boston's GLBT community, including the Empty Barrel, at 99 Broadway (to the left when you're facing Jacques, downstairs), which was, for a time, a lesbian bar. It was called the "Empty Barrel" because they would take the empty liquor barrels to use for tables and seating.


The reason Boston's first Gay Pride March started here was to confront a number of community concerns directed at what is now the city's oldest surviving GLBT establishment, Jacques. Of primary importance to the march's organizers was the club's increasing problem with misogyny and the ill treatment of lesbian patrons.


First Gay Pride March, List of Demands read outside Jacques:


1.      That the upstairs be for women only and that all men there must be accompanied by a woman.

2.      There should be easily accessible fire escapes-without locks on them.

3.      That conditions, especially in bathrooms, be made more sanitary.

4.      That we be allowed to disseminate literature of interest to the gay community inside the bar.

5.      That there be a woman bartender.

6.      That we have control of the music played in Jacques; that we be allowed to choose records to go on the jukebox.

7.      That Jacques recognize a negotiation committee to implement these demands and others that may come up in the future.

 Other Side


Site 2: Cocoanut Grove Fire (Corner of Cocoanut Grove Lane and Piedmont Street)


On November 28, 1942 the deadliest nightclub fire in history broke out in the Cocoanut Grove, killing 492 people. The Cocoanut Grove nightclub first opened its doors on October 23, 1927 and was a popular Boston attraction. In 1941, the club was redecorated in a tropical theme, with artificial palm trees, blue satin ceilings, a dance floor, a bandstand and rolling platform stage. There was also a retractable roof for warm nights and dancing under the stars. Just a week before the fire, a new lounge area opened up in the Cocoanut Grove, which may explain why the 460 capacity nightclub held close to a 1,000 patrons on that November evening, wanting to see the new space. Within just five minutes a fire swept from the basement lounge through the entire building, traveling along the poorly fire-proofed tropical decorations thatcovered the walls and ceiling. A general panic ensued, leading patrons to rush and block the inadequate exits. The main door was a revolving door which quickly become blocked, and many of the other exits either swung inward and were pressed shut by panicked crowd, or they were illegally locked by the management trying to prevent people from getting in and out without paying. The tragedy caused serious restructuring of national fire codes and many advancesin the treatment of burn victims. Over 160 people were hospitalized after the fire and 492 people lost their lives, while between 300 to 350 people managed to escape the nightclub and survive.


Flyer for the Other Side
Image courtesy of The History Project: Documenting GLBT Boston


Site 3: Napoleon Club (52 Piedmont Street)


The Napoleon Club opened as a speakeasy in 1929 and later operated as a private club with a sizeable gay Napoleons Clubclientele. It wasn't until 1952, though, when under new ownership Napoleons became a gay bar and eventually a piano bar. Regular crooners were joined by such luminaries as Liberace and the Queen of Queens herself, Judy Garland, who visited the club every night for a week shortly before her death in 1969. The Napoleon's piano bar was decorated with bold black and red décor, and a collection of Napoleonic artifacts and motifs. In an interview with The History Project, Bob R. describes the atmosphere of the club: "Long after [the Napoleon's] days as a speakeasy, patrons had to push a buzzer and be viewed through a peephole. If they knew you, they'd let you in. You had to be dressed in a tie and coat and jacket. For a long time they didn't allow women, and when they did they couldn't wear pants." 


The Napoleon Club closed in 1998 and much of the contents of the establishment put up to auction. Its legacy lives on, though, in the Napoleon Room, a piano bar and lounge in Club Café, a GLBT restaurant and club on Columbus Avenue. On display in the bar and lounge, on loan from the archives of The History Project, are three large stained glass panels that originally hung over the bar at the Napoleon Club. 

Photograph of Club Café's Napoleon Room (209 Columbus Avenue), Caption: Performers in the Napoleon Room at Club Café. The stained glass panel above the piano, on loan from the archives of The History Project, originally hung over the bar at the Napoleon Club. Image courtesy of The History Project: Documenting GLBT Boston. 


Site 4: Park Square (Intersection of Arlington and Stewart streets and Columbus Avenue) 

Park Square and the Greyhound Bus Station formed a hub of gay activity in the late 1950s and early 1960s.


Construction of the Statler Hotel Building (now the Park Plaza Hotel at 50 Park Plaza) began in 1925 as part of the E.M. Statler Empire, opening its doors on March 10, 1927. E.M. Statler was a rather successful American business man, with hotels across the nation. When Boston's StatlerHotel was built in 1925 it was the tallest building in Boston at 155 feet and exceeding the 125 foot limit of the Massachusetts Building Code through a special dispensation from Mayor Curley. The land for the hotel was bought at $45,000 and the average room cost between $3.50 and $5.00 a night. It was the first hotel in the nation to offer radios in every room. The hotel was sold in 1976 to the Irving M. Saunders family who changed the name to The Boston Park Plaza Hotel & Towers.


Located in the Statler Building was the Hayes Bickford, a popular after hours gay club in the 50s. The author John Preston described his experiences in Park Square as a teenage hustler: "I was given a great deal of affection be the men I found in the alleys off Park Square. I was guarded by a flock of black drag queens who just loved to mother a young boy from the country." The queens of Park Square also became models for characters in Preston's novel Franny, the Queen of Provincetown.


Park Square was also home to one of the most popular bars of the 1950s and 1960s, the Punch Bowl, which entertained huge crowds - and, on occasion, the vice squad, which longtime Boston resident Preston Claridge describes in an interview with The History Project: "About once a night they would flash the emergency lights, which meant that the vice were coming and youhad to stop dancing with your boyfriend, since it was illegal back then. You could dance with a lesbian, or you could sit down."


On any given night one could expect a waiting line of several hundred outside the Punch Bowl. As one of Boston's best-known early gay bars, a typical crowd would be heavy on students, with some drag queens, hustlers, and professionals thrown into the mix. The Punch Bowl closed in 1970when the property was bought by the city. 


Site 5: Boston's South End (Corner of Berkeley Street and Columbus Avenue)


As is common in much of Boston, the South End is built upon former tidal marshland that was filled with gravel between the 1830s and 1870s. The South End area was filled before the Back Bay neighborhood. The architecture of the South End is mostly mid-nineteenth-century bow-front row-houses. You can see an aesthetic of predominantly red-brick structures of five stories. Themost common architectural styles are Renaissance Revival and Italianate and French Second Empire. The South End was originally settled by middle-class business owners, bankers, etc., but a series of financial crises at the turn of the twentieth century, as well as newer trendy neighborhoods like Back Bay popping up, lead to many wealthier people leaving the South End. Mostresidences in the area then became tenement houses which lead to lower-income immigrants, African Americans, and gays and lesbians living in the neighborhood. In the 1940s, the South End started to become a more attractive location for single gays and lesbians. The environment of single-sex rooming houses provided homes and social cover for unmarried gay and lesbian people tolive together.


Frederick Shibley of the tabloid Mid-Town Journal spectacularly described the resident of the South End thusly:


Bazos, prostitutes, pimps, wife-beaters, stumble-bums, murders, moochers, homo-sexuals, scavengers and a generous assortment of charlatans exist (rather precariously) in the South End,which is one of the largest rooming house sections in the world.


Shibley's newspaper focused on the various exploits of South End residents, providing a day-by-day history of gays and lesbians running afoul of the law. One article from 1961, entitled  "Bar Bussing Bags Babes: Kissing Cuties' Café Cavorting Snags Butch, Doll" (he liked catchy headlines), begins with this sensational opening paragraph:


Puckering her lips and throwing her head back when an attractive blonde clad in a pair of tight fitting slacks put her arms around her, a tiny but beautiful hundred-pound brunette who accepted a hackle-raising kiss as her attractive companion ran her hands over her body,lingering at intimate parts of her anatomy as they squirmed dissolutely, was the picture painted in Central Court by a headquarters detective, who interrupted the cavorting of the two females in a Washington Street café and placed both under arrest on charges of being lewd persons.


The Mid-Town Journalis a treasure trove of details of GLBT life in the South End.


Many credit the renewed cultural vigor of the South End to its many GLBT artists and entrepreneurs who helped the neighborhood flourish beginning in the 1980s. Rising living costs in the area due to urban renewal and gentrification have diminished somewhat the artsy gayness of this neighborhood in the last 10 years or so. The South End has been on the NationalRegister of Historic Places since 1973 as "the largest urban Victorian neighborhood in the country." 


Site 6: Former Boston Police Department Headquarters (corner of Stanhope and Berkeley streets)


Marchers in Boston's first Gay Pride March in 1971 made their second stop here, to address issues related to police and the GLBT community. In his reminiscences of that day, Boston-based activist and writer Charley Shively described the scene outside the Police Headquarters:"...everything was locked up, and although we hadn't announced which police station we would confront, they seemed to know we were coming. The building was totally dead except for the ubiquitous camera lenses taking our pictures. A statement was read on the steps denouncing police brutality against homosexuals..."


First Gay Pride March, List of Demands read outside Boston Police Department headquarters:

1.      That all entrapment immediately cease.

2.      That vague laws, such as those against loitering, disorderly conduct, and lewd and lascivious behavior not be used to harass homosexuals.

3.      That the police provide protection, rather than harassment, in the areas around gay bars.

4.      That representatives of the police force enter into immediate discussions with representatives of the homophile organizations to facilitate communication and understanding and implement the above demands.


It wasn't until 1978 that the BPD created a position that was to work directly with and to address the needs and concerns of members of the GLBT community. 


Site 7: Early Lesbian and Gay Organizations (419 Boylston Street)


419 Boylston Street was once home to a number of early lesbian and gay organizations, including Homophile Community Health Service, the Homophile Union of Boston, and the Boston chapter of the Daughters of Bilitis. These organizations each played key roles in organizing Boston's firstGay Pride events and march in 1971.


Homophile Community Health Services of Boston opened in January 1971 as a counseling and education center for Boston's lesbian and gay community. Within the first 5 months of opening, the HCHS saw over 220 new clients and answered over 1,200 telephone calls on their direct hotline. They offered group and individual counseling for a wide range of issues facing lesbiansand gay men covering all aspects of mental health. The HCHS ran the Boston Gay Hotline that offered counseling, general information, referrals, and crisis intervention, and all free of charge. The education division of HCHS created and organized classes, workshops, and lecture series; ran a WBUR-FM radio show called "Gayway"; and opened the Other Voices Bookstore. The HCHS also set up two special counseling programs for lesbians and gay men that focused on issues of alcohol abuse and family counseling. The name of the group was changed toGay and Lesbian Counseling Services in 1983, but due to increasing financial issues throughout the 1980s, was ultimately forced to close its doors.  Counseling services similar to those offered by HCHS were also being offered by Fenway Community Health, an organizationwith roots going back to 1973; many HCHS clients benefited from Fenway's health services afterward its closing. (Deirdre)


The Homophile Union of Boston grew out of the Boston chapter of the Mattachine Society and was founded in late 1969 or early 1970. The organization's leadership was male, but there were also women members. The purpose of HUB was to provide a space for gay men and lesbians to talk about political and social issues affecting them and to offer a support network for members. The archives of HUB are held by The History Project and consist of organizational records, publications, and correspondence, and were compiled from material donated by officers of HUB, including Frank Morgan and Dick York. (THP finding aid)


The Daughters of Bilitis (DOB) was a lesbian organization founded in 1955 in San Francisco by Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon for the purpose of self-knowledge and self-acceptance, public education, involvement in research, and lobbying to change the laws criminalizinghomosexuality. Starting primarily as a private social group for lesbians focused on the integration of the lesbian into mainstream society, the aims of the group shifted during the 1960s due to the changing political, social and economic conditions of the decade. The DOB took up political activism to lobby for the rights of lesbians, promoting individualism with a decreased emphasis on societal conformity. During the 1960s many regional chapters were charteredaround the country and globally, continuing the organization even after the closing of the San Francisco national office in 1978.


The Boston chapter was founded in 1969 during a period when many homophile organizations were forming in Boston. Early leaders of the Boston DOB included Lois Johnson, Shari Barden, and LauraRobin/McMurry, who were prominent promoters of the group and its activities. Early on in the history of the Boston DOB, debate occurred over the group's overall purpose, with an outcome emphasizing the original DOB mission of personal and social support for lesbians, education of the public on lesbianism, and the lobbying for the reform of laws limiting the civil andhuman rights of lesbians. Over time, many younger, politically active lesbians and lesbian-feminists started to think of the organization as old-fashioned and left to create new groups or join other, more radical and activist-oriented organizations. The Boston DOB became the longest running chapter of the DOB, maintaining an office in Cambridge until the early 2000s, with 30 years of documented history present in the archives of The History Project.

 The Focus

The newsletter for the Boston Chapter of the Daughters of Bilitis, called Focus, was published from 1969 to 1983. Image courtesy of The History Project: Documenting GLBT Boston.


Site 8: Arlington Street Church


Since the early 1970s, the Arlington Street Church on the corner of Boylston and Arlington streets, a Unitarian Universalist church, has been GLBT positive and affirming. Many groups have met here at one time or another, including the Homophile Union of Boston, Boston Unitarian Universalist Gay and Lesbians, Dignity-Boston, and the Boston Gay Men's Chorus. The city's first same-sex marriage ceremony (officially unrecognized of course) was held here in 1973.


The building was the first to be built in the newly in-filled land of Back Bay in the 1850s and the structure is supported by 999 wooden pilings driven deep into the mud floor of Back Bay. Designed by Arthur Gilman and Gridley James Fox Bryant, and with an exterior inspired by St. Martin-in-the-Fields, London, construction of the church building started in 1859 and the building was dedicated in 1861. The bell tower stands 190 feet (58 meters) tall and contains a set of 16 bells.


The congregation at the Arlington Street Church has long been outspoken about human rights, involving themselves in the abolition movement, the fight for woman's suffrage, and for equal marriage rights. On May 17, 2004, the Arlington Street Church was the site of the first state-sanctioned same-sex marriage in the United States, when David Wilson and Rob Compton, one of the couples who's lawsuit against the state lead to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court's rulingthat the state cannot deny the benefits of civil marriage to same-sex couples, were married. Three days later, on May 20, 2004, 55 same-sex marriages were performed at this church, officiated by three members of the clergy.Gay Dance


The Homophile Union of Boston, the Student Homophile League, and the Daughters of Bilitis used to hold gay dances in the Boston area, including at the Arlington Street Church.
Image courtesy of The History Project: Documenting GLBT Boston.



Site 9: Boston Public Garden (Corner of Boylston and Charles streets)


The Public Garden was commissioned in 1837, almost 200 years after the designation of Boston Common as a park in 1634. The park is 24-acres of botanical garden, designed by George F. Meacham, while the paths and flower beds were laid out by the city engineer, James Slade and the forester, John Galvin. The wrought iron fence surrounding the garden was built in 1863 for $25,000. The 3-acre lake in the Public Garden contains a small island that was once a peninsula. The peninsula proved to be so popular with lovers that it was cut off from the land to prevent "misuse" of the spot. The Public Garden was long a popular gay cruising site in Boston, especially during the time before WWII up until the 1980s. A Four Seasons hotel now stands where hustlers once patrolled opposite the Public Garden. In the 1980s, the city changed traffic patterns to discourage drivers from circling "The Block" (around Commonwealth, Arlington, and Marlborough streets) in their cars. The Public Garden is also presently home to a swan couple, Romeo and Juliet. These two female swans have been nesting around the lake since 2005.



Site 10: Queen's Row and Sylvia Sidney (Corner of Beacon and Charles streets)


Boston's most infamous drag queen, Sylvia Sidney, once described himself as "a fun-loving, outspoken homosexual who speaks his mind-and if people don't like it, the hell with them, my dear ... when I hit the stage I'm coarse, loud, and vulgar." He began his career as a drag performer in 1947, at the age of seventeen. Sidney received his stage name one day in the1940s while walking through the Public Garden. He describes the moment in an interview with The History Project: "I went down to what they call Queen's Row in the Public Garden. It was a dirt road. They had benches. Some older queens were there. They said, ‘Oh, hi honey! How are you? Aren't you cute!' I wasn't really cute at all. They said, ‘What's your name?' I said, ‘Sidney.' They said, ‘We'll call you Sylvia.' They called everybody a name. There was a Bette Davis, there was a Helen Morgan. There was a queen who looked like Katharine Hepburn. She had a twin brother-the Hepburn sisters."


For his first performance, Sylvia stepped out on stage wearing purple lounging pajamas with white polka dots and sang, ‘Kiss me sweet, kiss me simple, kiss me on the lips.' Patrons of the Rex, a straight club, booed him off the stage. As Sylvia tells it, local piano virtuoso Jerry Whiting found him backstage crying. Whiting told him to go back out, pick up themicrophone, and say whatever was on his mind. Sylvia went back out for a second show and let loose with a string of expletives that wouldn't quit. The audience started throwing money and cheering. The manager offered Sylvia five dollars for three shows a night, and a career was born.


Sylvia SidneySylvia Sidney died on December 16, 1998, but until shortly before his death was hosting a regularly night for drag at Jacques. Boston had lost a star comedian and entertainer, the self-proclaimed "Bitch of Boston."


Legendary Boston drag performer Sylvia Sidney, circa 1945.
Image courtesy of The History Project: Documenting GLBT Boston.



Site 11: Charles Street (Corner of Charles and Beacon streets)


The Charles Street Meeting House at 70 Charles Street was once home to several early gay activist groups and publications. The Gay Community News (GCN), which ran from 1973 to 1992 as a weekly and until 1999 as a quarterly, published its first issue out of the Charles Street Meeting House. Gay Community News was an influential publication in Boston, acrossthe country, and around the world. The fourth issue of GCN described the Charles Street Meeting House as "best known to the gay community as a gay community center." The Meeting House hosted a multitude of events including Gay Liberation Front weekly dances for gay youth and the gay crisis hotline. The hotline was staffed by volunteers who talked to people who phoned in with no one else to turn to, and was one of very few gay help resources in the early1970s.


For more on Gay Community News, read "An Army of Ex-Lovers" by Amy Hoffman and visit the digitized Gay Community News archivesat



Site 12: Massachusetts State House


The Massachusetts State House, built in 1798, contains the Governor's offices, the House of Representatives, and the Massachusetts Senate. In 1974, Elaine Noble was elected the first openly gay person in the nation to hold an elective state office. She and then-State Representative Barney Frank subsequently sponsored a gay rights bill, which the legislature rejected. Over the years, the state house has been the site of many protests over GLBT rightsissues and, in the early 2000s, saw Massachusetts become the first state in the United States to legalize same-sex marriage. In 2001, seven same-sex couples from across the state applied for marriage licenses and were all denied. On April 11, 2001, Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) filed a lawsuit, Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, arguing that denying same-sex couples equal marriage rights was unconstitutional under the state constitution. TheSuffolk Superior Court ruled against the plaintiffs in May 2002, a decision that GLAD appealed to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. On November 18, 2003, the Supreme Judicial Court ruled 4 to 3 that the state's ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. The ruling states:


The Massachusetts Constitution affirms the dignity and equality of all individuals. It forbids the creation of second-class citizens. In reaching our conclusion we have given full deferenceto the arguments made by the Commonwealth. But it has failed to identify any constitutionally adequate reason for denying civil marriage to same-sex couples.


The state began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples on May 17, 2004, the fiftieth anniversary of the Brown v. the Board of Education ruling. The Goodridge ruling caused shockwaves across the country, with some cities and states allowing same-sex couples to marry, while others worked to pass legislation banning same-sex marriage altogether.

First Gay pride parade

First Pride Parage

State House was the third stop at the first Gay Pride March in 1971 and was a way for marchers to confront "persecution of homosexuals by the state."


First Gay Pride March, List of Demands read outside the Massachusetts State House:

1.      That all the following laws pertaining to homosexuality be repealed: Mass. Chapter 272, S. 34, S. 35, and city ordinance against same sex dancing together

2.      That legislation be enacted to end discrimination against people in employment, housing, and in the use of public facilities because of their sexual orientation.

Marchers at Boston's first Gay Pride March outside the Massachusetts State House, 1971.  Image courtesy of The History Project: Documenting GLBT Boston.



Elaine Noble
Elaine Noble is an American politician and GLBT activist who served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives for two terms starting in January 1975. She was the first openly lesbian or gay candidate elected to a state legislature in the UnitedStates. She served two terms as representative for the Fenway-Kenmore/Back Bay neighborhoods of Boston.
Image courtesy of The History Project: Documenting GLBT Boston.



Site 13: St. Paul's Cathedral (138 Tremont Street)


St. Paul's Cathedral was constructed in 1818 and was the 4th Episcopal Church built in Boston after King's Chapel (1686), Old North Church (1722), and Trinity Church (1733). It was the first building in the Greek Revival style built in Boston, and was expected to be finished with a frieze of St. Paul over the pediment. The controversial Nautilus Sculpture, which nowadorns the pediment, was completed in May 2013 as a symbol of spirituality beyond religion. On October 7, 1912 the Church was consecrated as the Cathedral Church of the Diocese. The church was designated a National Historic Landmark on December 30, 1970.


St. Paul's has a long history of supporting the GLBT community in Boston. Some of the earliest public healing services for people with AIDS were held here. The Episcopal faith was one of the first Christian groups to recognize same-sex marriages and to create a same-sex marriageceremony. The church also allows for the leadership of gay and lesbian bishops.


St. Paul's is also supportive of the trans community in Boston, celebrating the Transgender Day of Remembrance and hosting events for the trans community. Members of the St. Paul's community have been marching against homophobia and for GLBT rights in Boston Pride for years, and generally hold a post-march celebration for all who want to attend.


At the first Gay Pride March in 1971, however, it was outside St. Paul's that a list of demands were presented, denouncing centuries of religious persecution of homosexuals.


First Gay Pride March, List of Demands read outside St. Paul's Cathedral:

1.      That the church accept qualified gay persons for ordination and other religious work.

2.      That the church include comprehensive courses on human sexuality in seminary training, and for men and women already in religious work.

3.      That it develop and use curriculum material on human sexuality in Sunday School or in Church School.

4.      That the church recognize and bless the love of homosexuals as it does for heterosexuals.

5.      That the church lend its support to the reexamination of the institution of marriage and the family, which in its present form legally discriminates against homosexuals.

6.      That the church lend its support to the reexamination of roles based on sex, with particular attention to the fact that its support of these sex roles has oppressed women           and homosexuals.


Site 14: Parkman Bandstand (Boston Common)


The first Gay Pride March in 1971 ended at the Parkman Bandstand where, according to Charley Shively's account, "a closet-smashing and book-dumping" took place. Shively writes: "The cardboard closet was ripped apart and thrown in a trash-can along with cardboard signs of infamous books by psychiatrists, whose names hardly bear repeating."


The Parkman Bandstand was built in 1912 from a design by Derby, Robinson & Shephard at a cost of $1 million on the site of the former Cow Pond or Horse Pond. The pond was filled in 1838 after cattle-grazing was outlawed on the Common. It was named for Dr. George Parkman, Jr., who was a great benefactor of Boston Parks, donating $5 million to the park system uponhis death in 1908.

 First Pride Parade

The bandstand was most recently renovated in 1996 and is a common meeting point for events and rallies of all kinds, including Boston Pride, the annual Youth Pride March, and for the annual Boston Dyke March. The Bandstand was also a longtime location of the annual Pride Festival, during Boston Pride, and at that first Gay Pride March in 1971, this was certainly thecase. Currently, the Pride Festival takes place at Government Center.


Interestingly enough, during one famous (orperhaps infamous) Pride rally in 1977 at the Parkman Bandstand, that same gay activist Charley Shively, founder of Fag Rag (an early publication by and about gay men in Boston), burned his Harvard diploma, his draft card, and pages from a copy of the Bible. Many in the crowdwere supportive of the diploma and draft card burning, but crowd reactions were very divided after the Bible was set afire. This division in many ways spoke to the changing atmosphere of Boston's annual Pride march - from a march to a parade, from a distinctly political event, to one more celebratory.

An image from Boston's first Gay Pride March, 1971.Imagecourtesy of The History Project: Documenting GLBT Boston.


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