The Biennial Project had always heard about the cheerful confluence of outright racism, homophobia and xenophobia that takes place at Boston’s Annual drunken Irish soiree known as ‘The Southie St. Patrick’s Day Parade’. Needless to say we stayed away for many a moon. This year, upon hearing about an alternative, inclusive march called The Peace Parade, The Biennial Project decided it was our duty as citizens of the great City of Boston to show up. The only way to change opinion on race and gender is through exposure.
“We’re here we’re queer, we’re fabulous don’t fuck with us!”
On top of the activism, honestly, we went because we love love love a big party.
Well, from what we witnessed, we were totally wrong about the attitude of the main event. Though the crowd was predominately white and Irish (it is their day) there were many ethnicities guzzling Vodka out of water bottles along side the pale skinned ginger haired crowd doing the same. Even with the shame of the gays still not being allowed to march, we saw a little bit of everything mixed in with the Bag Pipers, step dancers and drunken union workers. There were ghost busters, Storm Troopers, Renaissance people, Rat Pack impersonators, Latin Salsa dancers, skipping bananas, Hip Hop Clubs and a flat bed truck of what we think might have been Russian Strippers. It resembled the array of characters that show up for Biennial Project events. At times it felt like the color altered acid days of our teen years. We went to make a statement but in reality whole day was big green, foolish fun.
For our global fans who might not know anything about our town’s history, here is a little lesson. In the 19th century Irish immigrants started to come to Boston in droves.
The Biennial Project is not sure of the exact figures. We are far too lazy to look them up, but trust us; lots and lot of Irish came. So many that Boston still takes on the personality and flavor of the old country. With communities as tight as the Irish were in Boston intolerance formed. In the Early 1970s there were outright riots when the city started to bus school children from one neighborhood to another to harbor diversity and equality of education. For over 20 years Gay groups have had their applications rejected by Allied War Veterans Council who host the parade. In 1995 the rejection was taken all the way to the US Supreme court in the case Hurley vs. Irish-American Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual Group of Boston, which ruled parade organizers do have a legal right to decide who marches in the parade.
We never attended the Parade because of the outright
prejudice and also, lets face it, a big drunken Irish posse can seem scary.
Last year an organization called Veteran’s for Peace started their own parade, after the big parade, to let the rejected groups march. Yes, it is sort like crumbs from the table but it gives visibility to the fact that the host organization still has fear in their hearts. The Biennial Project tries to conjure up some compassion for these old men who are living a life time of shame for that blowjob they gave as a teenager - but really. Is it too hard to admit you enjoyed it? Anyhow, The Biennial Project went to support The Veteran’s for Peace and stand up for our own rights. Kara Suffredini, executive director of MassEquality, said it well -
“I think this is the work we do every day of changing hearts and minds. There will be a day when we will be welcomed in this parade.”
So enough with the politics, we went to stand up for our rights but we were really surprised by the inclusive, positive, fun and slightly weird energy of the big green party. What does this have to do with art? As usual we don't know or care - we had a friggin good time. Witness though our (fine art) photos.
The whole day was cool as shit, with the coolest moment among many coming when one of the GORGEOUS AND FRIENDLY black cops charged with keeping the peace demonstrated the cool new boston with his chill handling of a drunk who stumbled dangerously close to the parade route. "Hey, don't be a dickhead", he gently warned the guy. The guy immediately changed course - trouble averted. None of the old-fashioned scary Boston cop I-bet-his wife-has-a-restraining-order-against-him posturing needed. And did we mention that these very same cops are currently starring in a nationally televised TV show produced by Dorchester boy Mahk Wahlberg called 'Boston's Finest'. There may be hope for our little seaside village yet.
Scranton with clams indeed!