The first "straight pride parade" in downtown Boston took place as planned Saturday with conservative troll Milo Yiannopoulos as grand marshal. The event attracted a larger crowd of counter-protesters and a heavy police presence, NBC News reports.
The parade was organized by Super Happy Fun America, which announced in June that it had received permission from the City of Boston to hold a one-day event celebrating the "diverse history, culture, and identity" of the heterosexual community. The group had filed a discrimination complaint after the city initially shot down their proposal.
While the Super Happy Fun America website claims the event aims to "educate the public about straight issues and foster unity and respect," its organizers are closely associated with white supremacist groups in Boston. Super Happy Fun America president John Hugo is a Republican who ran unsuccessfully for Massachusetts’ state Congress during the 2018 midterm elections. Mark Sahady, the group’s vice president, is a member of “alt-lite” group Resist Marxism and has a questionable history of involvement at local right-wing rallies.
"Straight is great," Hugo told CBS Boston. “We love being straight. And there’s nothing wrong with celebrating our sexual orientation."
The parade itself, which kicked off to the sound of Lee Greenwood’s anthem “God Bless the U.S.A.,” only drew about 150 to 200 attendees, Mass Live reports. Groups like Bikers for Trump waved signs reading "Straight Lives Matter," "It's Great to Be Straight," and "Make Normalcy Normal Again."
As was the case at last weekend's failed straight pride rally in Modesto, the LGBTQ community and its allies far outnumbered straight pride attendees.
These counter-protesters and anti-fascist demonstrators gathered at City Hall Plaza and Copley Square along the parade route, which mirrored that of Boston Pride. Chants from the protesters included "Bottoms and tops, we all hate cops" and "Alt-right, get off our streets, no justice, no peace." Signs in the crowd read "Fuck Straight Pride," "End White Supremacy," and "If you hate gay people, blame straight people for having gay babies."
Yiannopoulos, wearing a sparkly red "Make America Straight Again" hat, rode on a so-called “Trump Unity Bridge" float emblazoned with Trumpian slogans like "Drain the Swamp" and "Build the Wall and Crime Will Fall."
"I think it’s a wonderful cause," the alt-right darling told journalist Ford Fischer at the parade. "My fellow homosexuals have been embarrassing me for decades, and finally I’ve found my crowd... I don’t think they’re anti-gay, I think they’re anti-cunt."
One parade attendee wearing a "Socialism Is for Fags" shirt provoked protesters by calling them "faggot" and yelling, "I am anti-gay!"
But there were also a few LGBTQ people marching for straight pride. Christen Greczowski, a transgender Trump supporter, held up a trans flag signed by other trans people who had left the Democratic Party. Gay couple Marky Hutt and Peter Brown, also proud Trump supporters, held hands.
Attempting to keep the marchers and protesters apart, Boston police and state law enforcement officers, some wearing riot gear, used batons, pepper spray, and their motorcycles to control and disperse the crowd. According to police, at least 36 people were arrested.
“It has become increasingly clear that the Straight Pride Parade is organized by a group of white supremacists and is an attempt to bait the Boston LGBTQ community, as well as racial and ethnic minority communities in Boston," Boston Pride tweeted prior to the parade. "It’s a trolling event, designed to get a rise out of vulnerable communities."
"This weekend I’m celebrating what makes our city so great—our people—by attending neighborhood block parties, visiting farmer’s markets and BBQs, and celebrating safe neighborhoods," Boston Mayor Marty Walsh tweeted. "I invite all residents of Boston to join me in doing the same. As I’ve said, a 'Straight Pride' Parade won’t overshadow the tremendous role Boston plays in the national movement for equality. We will continue to be a leader in the fight for civil rights."
Hugo wrote Saturday afternoon on Facebook that the social media platform had taken down Super Happy Fun America's event page and its livestream of the parade.
Prior to tapping Yiannopoulos as grand marshal, parade organizers had been using Brad Pitt as their mascot, obviously without the actor’s permission, and were met with a cease and desist.
"This parade is a gift to anyone, male or female, black or white—gay and transgender allies, too!—who will stand with us and celebrate the wonder and the majesty of God’s own heterosexuality," Yiannopoulos said in a statement. "Men, bring your most toxic selves. Women, prepare to burn your briefcases! Because it’s great to be straight, and we’re not apologizing for it any more."
In the disorganized weeks leading up to the event, Super Happy Fun America released misleading information about its prospective corporate sponsorships. Group members reported receiving unmarked envelopes stuffed with glitter.