As Pride Week kicked off on Friday, launching a seven-day celebration of the gay community, organizers of the event scoffed at recent rankings that failed to include Boston on a list of the most “gay-friendly” destinations in the country.
According to NerdWallet.com, a website that crunches and breaks-down government data, out of 20 U.S. cities rated the most welcoming to the LGBT community, Boston was nowhere to be found.
The rankings, based on municipal laws, community and peer support, and safety and tolerance, used census data to come up with the list. But advocates of the LGBT community think despite the algorithms and number-crunching analysis, the website is way off.
“I don’t know what matrix they used but they certainly don’t know Boston well. We are one of the most gay-friendly cities in the nation…they kind of missed the boat on this one,” said Boston Pride President Linda DeMarco.
DeMarco said when it comes to facts, not just census data, Boston is the leader in the nation for progressiveness across the country. “I just think they really missed the boat to be honest with you. I think Boston, if not number one, should have been number two at least,” she said, standing on the steps of City Hall, where Pride Week organizers prepared to raise a rainbow flag to officially start the week-long celebration. “I think in Boston, being so small, we took the growth [of the gay community] and enhanced it.”
DeMarco also gave praise to Mayor Tom Menino, who will lead the annual Gay Pride Parade as the Grand Marshall on Saturday, June 8. She said the mayor was picked based on votes tallied from residents, which was likely a reflection of him “being a passionate supporter of Boston Pride and [the] LGBT community” throughout his 20-year tenure.
The theme of this year’s festivities is “Moving Forward…Proud, Strong, United” and represents the hardships that the LGBT community has persevered, as well as the drive to move forward together, according to event organizers. It is expected to be the largest Pride parade to date.
Karen Russell, an LGBT advocate, and member of Boston Pride since 1986, agreed with DeMarco’s sentiments, and said she was shocked by the rankings. “It wasn’t on the list at all? Really? Boston has made history in the United States. In all of the cities we should have been number one,” she said, adding that no city can rival Boston’s efforts to welcome the gay community.
While Boston didn’t make the list, nearby neighbors in Cambridge were able to secure the number five spot on NerdWallet.com’s rankings for having “zero sexual orientation-related hate crimes in 2011.” Northampton, Massachusetts also made the grade, coming in at number 16, just above Hartford, Connecticut. Seeing as though in 2004, Massachusetts became the first state in the country to recognize and issue same-sex marriage licenses, it’s only right that we make the list more than once in some capacity, even if Boston was over-looked.
Boston Pride Week is full of events and activities that look to achieve inclusivity, equality, respect and awareness in Greater Boston and beyond, from the kickoff Flag Raising ceremony, to family friendly Pride Day at Faneuil Hall. For a complete listing of the week’s events, visit the organization’s website here.
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