Last week, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh made headlines by refusing to participate in the annual South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade. The decision came after parade officials decided against letting LGBT individuals march openly as part of the procession. The following is an open letter in response to Walsh’s decision:
Dear Mayor Walsh,
My name is Harrison J Ford. I am a senior at Lesley University working part time at the Watertown Boys and Girls Club and Cambridge Rindge and Latin School. Originally from Watertown, I currently reside in Allston, or Ward 21, 4. I am writing to you in regards to your recent decision not to march in the South Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
I would like to start by saying that I have been following the Southie Parade/openly gay marchers story for quite some time now. As a gay male with Irish heritage, the debacle is very close to my heart. It shocked me that even in a city as presumably accepting as Boston, a social group would be excluded from any kind of public celebration based on sexual orientation. The debate over openly gay vs. just gay is irrelevant to me, as I think it’s an excuse to justify the discrimination of known homosexuals. Irish homosexuals deserve to be recognized, just like Irish veterans, Irish mothers, and Irish step dancers. They all play an important role in the growth, development, protection, and nurturing of society. The rules of the parade set up by organizers to limit the level of visibility for gay marchers are oppressive and archaic. As someone who identifies as both gay and Irish, I felt personally offended. Gays have been denied proper recognition throughout history, and Boston 2014 is no time and place to continue the trend.
Judging by your decision not to participate, I assume that we share similar viewpoints on the Southie Parade. I’m writing to you to tell you that you made the right decision. It probably wasn’t an easy decision to make, considering the strong pull that you have from the South Boston Irish community as well as the entire LGBT community of Boston. Not to mention the fundamental dispute raging between Bostonian conservatives and liberals. Given the city-wide conflict of interest, what you did showed true courage. By choosing not to march in a parade organized in part with discriminatory practices, you showed people like me that you support us and honor our solidarity. It is overwhelming to see someone with your stature and influence taking such a stand for gay rights. It might be a small act, but it is very big in my heart. I cannot speak for all of your gay constituents, it is safe to say that what you did today made a profound difference. My whole life has involved hiding myself and it’s comforting to know that there are people as important as you who believe that I shouldn’t have to. Thank you for your commitment to equality. Keep up the good work.
Harrison J Ford