There’s nothing like a tragedy to bring people together. We’re still reeling and mourning with the rest of the nation from the devastating bombings at the finish line of the famed Boston marathon on Monday. But while one suspect is dead and the manhunt continues for his brother/accomplice, it’s worth remembering why we love this amazing city so much in the first place — and we’re not simply referring to hot hometown boys like Ben Affleck, Matt Damon and Mark Wahlberg.
Among the many reasons are:
- Openly gay elected officials: Among them is former Boston city councilman David Scondras, a longtime community activist and educator, who was also elected as the city’s first openly gay city councilor in 1983. And let’s not forget that lovable curmudgeon former Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), who served in Massachusetts District in Congress for 32 years before he retired this year. Beginning in 1968, Frank served as Chief Assistant to Boston mayor Kevin White for three years before being elected to the House of Representatives in 1972, quickly making a name for himself as political defender of the Combat Zone, the city’s infamous red light district.
- Mary Bonauto: Openly gay legal eagle Mary Bonauto, working with Boston-based non-proft Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, has been instrumental in challenging the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). As the New York Times recently pointed out, Bonauto is “almost single-handedly responsible for the same-sex marriage cases now pending before the Supreme Court.”
- Anti-discrimination laws: In 1989, Massachusetts became only the second state in the country to pass a comprehensive anti-discrimination law that prohibits bias based on sexual orientation.
-Activism: Boston has a long, rich legacy of fighting for equality. One of the most notable is the Homophile Union of Boston(HUB) which grew out of the local chapter of the Mattachine Society and was founded around late 1969. Another is the Boston Lesbian and Gays Against the Right, or BLAGMAR, an off shoot of Lavender Resistance, formed primarily to fight against the emergence of the New Right, a political movement of evangelical Christians, spearheaded by whack jobs like Anita Bryant, that actively targeted the gay and lesbian community. To learn about some of the city’s LGBT organizations, visit here.
- Mayor Thomas M. Menino: This man just doesn’t tolerate homophobia. Last summer the good mayor vowed to make it difficult for anti-fast fast food chain Chick-fil-A to set up shop in his city. “Chick-fil-A doesn’t belong in Boston,” he said at the time. “You can’t have a business in the city of Boston that discriminates against a population. We’re an open city, we’re a city that’s at the forefront of inclusion.”
- Javier Pagan: Last but hardly least is the Boston Police Department’s liaison to the LGBT community. The most cynical of people were surely moved to learn that the officer in one of the most iconic pics from Monday’s tragedy is not only a gay man, but he’s married to one of the heroes from 9/11. Pagan proved once again that gay people are fully part of this country and we need full equality to protect ourselves, to protect our loved ones, and to protect our fellow Americans.
We know there are many more reasons to love the city affectionately-dubbed Beantown. Tell us why you do in the comments section.