Thirty-five years ago City Councilor Sal LaMattina was heading home from his summer job as a lifeguard at the Paris Street Pool when he ran into a friend.
“She was all dressed up and told me she was on her way to a wedding but the limo never showed up to take her friend who was getting married and the entire wedding party to the ceremony,” said LaMattina.
Nearly four decades ago the world was a much different place and far less open minded. The woman getting ‘married’ was Eastie’s Debbie Baker. It was a rare thing to have an openly gay woman in Eastie heading to her commitment ceremony in the West End with her longtime partner circa 1979.
“Debbie was a pioneer in my opinion and one of the first openly gay wedding came right out of East Boston at a time when it was unheard of,” said LaMattina. “So Debbie and members of the wedding party jumped into my car and I took them to the West End Meeting House for the ceremony. This was decades before Gay Marriage was recognized in the state.”
On Friday, June 13 at Piers Park at 6:30 p.m. LaMattina will join the neighborhood’s Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual and Transgender (LGBT) community to honor Baker and have the first ceremonial raising of the Rainbow Flag as part of LGBT Pride Month.
With June as the official LGBT Pride Month, residents from across East Boston came together to build and strengthen a sense of community for local LGBT citizens with support from the offices of Mayor Martin Walsh, State Senator Anthony Petruccelli, State Representative Carlo Basile, and LaMattina.
“We are honoring Debbie because she was a pioneer in gay marriage almost four decades ago,” said LaMattina. “This is the first time we are doing a flag raising ceremony in East Boston but our gay and straight residents alike said they would like to see something to celebrate gay pride in the neighborhood.”
With a growing gay population in Eastie LaMattina said he was excited at the prospect that this ceremony will become a new neighborhood tradition.
“We have a growing gay population in East Boston so it’s nice to help them and their families celebrate this important month, welcome the gay community to our neighborhood, and celebrate gay pride with them,” said LaMattina.
All those in attendance are encouraged to bring a blanket and stay to enjoy the park and get to know their community.