Last Friday, East Boston residents along with elected and local officials gathered at Piers Park for the 5th Annual LGBT Pride Flag raising.
This relatively new Eastie tradition is the result of residents recognizing that one of the neighborhoods best kept secrets is its diversity on every level.
The flag raising and display in Piers Park, aligned with Boston’s Pride Week, provides an opportunity for East Boston’s LGBT Community, family friends and allies to celebrate LGBT Pride in their hometown.
A keynote address was provided by East Boston resident David Tilleman.
“One afternoon last summer, I decided to start a Facebook group called Eastie Gays just to see how many LGBT we had in the community,” said Tilleman. “I added my friends, they added their and after a series of monthly meet ups and word of mouth we’ve reached almost 250 members.”
Tilleman said he was glad to see the neighborhood’s LGBT community and supporters turn out in larger and larger numbers each year for the annual flag raising event.
“When I first moved to East Boston four years ago the thing that became apparent to me immediately was that East Boston was a true community,” said Tilleman. “There’s something extra about this community. The passion that people can and should have in a neighborhood and the general pride that exists here, I’m not just talking about Eastie Pride or Gay Pride but the many versions of pride that continue to exist here in East Boston. We are proud here in East Boston. The thing I love about this neighborhood is that people embrace the celebration of everyone’s diversity.”
Tilleman said that during his first Gay Pride Week while living in Eastie he was able to attend the very flag raising he would later be invited as keynote speaker.
“It wasn’t until recently that I learned that this ceremony was not put on by the city or Massport, but by someone in our neighborhood that thought LGBT were important to have this moment in East Boston,” said Tilleman. “It was at that first flag raising that I realized Eastie was the place I wanted to call home and fight for because of all the pride I have I was never allowed Gay Pride in my life. That was an element I was always missing and a lot of other people miss. Many of us have to seek that out.”
Tilleman thank the flag raising founder Celeste Ribeiro Myers. Myers and elected officials also offered their thoughts regarding the installation of the Pride Flag at Piers Park. Myers said the the Rainbow Flag is a universal symbol that conveys instantly that all are welcome in Eastie.
Sen. Joseph Boncore thanked Myers for making sure Eastie is an inclusive neighborhood that is proud of its inclusivity.
“The motto of this year’s Pride Week in Boston is Rainbow Resistance,” said Boncore. “I think that it’s important that we resist the rhetoric coming out of the Trump Administration, we resist the hatred that is being spewed and we resist what he is trying to do to people that identify as LGBT people. It’s not welcome in this country or this community.”
Rep. Adrian Madaro, who was recently married, said he and his wife, Ariel, have been talking about raising a family.
“The kind of community we want to raise our family in is, without a doubt, the community of East Boston,” said Madaro. “Because in Eastie our diversity is our strength and its events like this that reinforce our commitment to the neighborhood. Whoever our children are, however they identify whoever they love they will not only accepted but supported, embraced and loved in this community.”
City Councilor Lydia Edwards said when she thinks about Pride Week and the flag raising celebration she knows that the LGBT rights movement is going to win.
“We are going to win not just here but nationwide,” said Edwards. “I often think about U.S. Supreme Court decision Loving vs. Virginia in 1967, 13 years before I was born gave the Constitutional right for interracial marriage. When I think about that (rainbow) flag and all the people that came before us I am extremely hopeful. I don’t just think about resistance I think about love and that flag reminds me why we are here and what we are fighting for. That flag tells us to love ourselves as we are and whom we want to be with. As long as you love and are able to love openly I have freedom and I’m able to love openly.”