I attended Boston’s ‘Straight Pride’ rally and am very afraid for our future

Boston Straight Pride, trolls, Zack Ford
The main float at Boston’s Straight Pride parade this weekend. (image via Zack Ford)

If you read our sister site’s coverage of Boston’s so-called “Straight Pride” parade — which was basically a white supremacist Trump rally led by child-rape supporter Milo Yiannopoulos — then you might’ve seen several tweets by Zack Ford, a longtime LGBTQ journalist.

In the most recent installment of his queer newsletter, Ford shared his experience attending the event and his worries about what it portends for the future of our country.

Related: Out with a whimper: Straight Pride fizzles in California

Ford begins by taking a second to praise the guy who at the event organizers’ pre-parade press conference, asked, “What do you say to taxpayers who want to know why you’re wasting this city’s resources because you three guys can’t get laid?”

Naturally, the organizers didn’t answer, but the asker had a point: Boston police in riot gear and on motorcycles easily outnumbered the “dozens” of Straight Pride marchers and were met by nearly a thousand counter-protestors, by Ford’s count. Police presence and security alone must’ve cost the taxpayers thousands if not more.

“Despite claims that the parade was not meant to be anti-LGBTQ, just ‘pro-straight,'” Ford writes, its organizers made the transphobic remark, “Ladies and gentlemen, people of all two genders, we welcome you,” on their megaphone. Another attendee proudly proclaimed, “I am antigay” while wearing a “Socialism is for F*gs” t-shirt.

Ford reports that the parade played “God Bless the USA” and Aretha Franklin’s “Think” (Freedom! Freedom!) to which he asks, “Really?”

Police arrested 36 counter-protestors and journalists. But while Ford decried the very small (and non-representative) number of counter-protestors who burned the American flags that Straight Pride attendees were forced to give up before attending the rally — “Not only did the burning seem both petty and off-message,” he writes, “but they were literally starting fires in a big crowd. It seemed unnecessarily hostile and dangerous — Ford adds, “I believe that a majority, if not all, of these confrontations and altercations were caused by Boston Police.”

He noted that police crowded a counter-protest area and began using pepper spray and arrests in a seemingly needless way.

This is what troubles Ford most:

I’m left feeling very frustrated that everything is kind of rigged just to ensure that hate is proliferated while those who actually stand for equality are punished.

Think about the ingredients we’re stuck with. We have a First Amendment that is so broad it guarantees that hateful messages can march down our streets with police protection. We have police who have a record of unjustly targeting and punishing minority groups. We have activists like those who identify with Antifa who feel inspired by the rise of hate to respond with equal and opposite extremism. All of the counter-protesting activists have good reason to distrust the police protecting the haters, chanting “Who do you protect?! Who do you serve!?” at them. Then the police choose to respond to that group with pure force, not even attempting any form of mediation or peaceful crowd management.

Those who are rallying for a just and equal society — whatever their approach — are painted as the unruly villains who can’t control themselves, even though it was the police who initiated unnecessary force. Minority groups’ distrust for the police only increases. And the haters? They’re left almost kind of looking like the good guys who weren’t personally involved in the scuffles, and they can then capitalize on the optics to further demonize the groups they already hate.

Ford concludes that the U.S. system is rigged in favor of the trolls and there’s no real remedy to change that, all but ensuring that similar events will play out in the future, just the way they’re playing out in our presidency with the Troll-in-Chief encouraging these “very fine people” to keep rubbing their privilege in marginalized people’s faces.