Gay Pride hasn’t always been a 10-day, all-inclusive celebration that culminates with a parade in which condoms, candy and swag are thrown to throngs of revelers lining the route. There was a time when the last place that politicians, corporations and anyone with a secret wanted to be seen was anywhere near the angry protest marches that began after the riots at the Stonewall Inn in New York City.
In 1970, many of the marchers in the first Boston Pride “parade” wore brown paper bags over their heads and carried placards naming their professions. Being outed could cost you your job, home, family and life. While they lived in fear, they wanted to participate in the beginning of the movement that would enable them to one day live openly and freely.
Over the past 43 years Boston has spearheaded in the gay rights movement and its Pride celebrations have changed with the times. Gone is the anger and outrage of its earliest participants. The in-your-face edge of the Lesbian Avengers and the infamous kilt-wearing, commando-going man on stilts (who turned out to be a straight man from Maine) have made way for the political schmoozing and corporate wooing of a highly valued demographic.
But one theme has remained constant: pride. More specifically, the celebration of that pride, through the festivals, block parties, the big parade (in his last march as an elected official, Boston Mayor Tom Menino will be this year's grand marshal — a fine way to say thank you to a man who was a champion for gay rights long before it was fashionable), and the numerous other events at which everyone you encounter greets you with “Happy Pride.”
Speaking of celebration, we've rounded up some Pride Week parties, shows and events not to be missed.
The Keg Party Takeover
Saturday, 1–6 p.m.
Who’s On First
19 Yawkey Way, Boston
The official kickoff party for Pride, this TWC — The Welcoming Committee (nee Guerrilla Queer Bar) — takeover of a "straight bar" will be a frat boy-style keg party like you’ve never seen. Drink, dance and mingle under the afternoon sun while enjoying pitchers of cheap beer and the chance to play flip cup and corn hole. (Check out our spotlight on The Welcoming Committee below, after the listings!)
Psycho Beach Bingo
Saturday, 2:30–4:30 p.m.
45 Mt. Auburn St., Cambridge
Join the cast of Heart & Dagger’s upcoming production of “Psycho Beach Party” for the kind of bingo that would make grandma cringe. Tropical drinks, crazy prizes, guys and gals in drag, and a chance to bust out the beachwear await you.
Drag Bingo: Pride Edition
Monday, 7:30 p.m. – midnight
209 Columbus Ave., Boston
Though grandma might feel a bit underdressed in her track suit, Constance Waverly and the gang will give her plenty to ooh and aah about as the numbers are called. Grab your glittery dauber and join the fun.
Out In Sports: Moving Forward
Wednesday, 6:15–8:15 p.m.
Boston Public Library
700 Boylston St., Boston
When NBA player Jason Collins came out, the issue of LBGTs in professional sports came to the forefront of the equal rights movement. Join a panel of athletes, authors and journalists for this timely discussion.
Pride Night at Fenway Park
Thursday, 7:10 p.m.
Fenway Park, Boston
It’s the Boston Red Sox versus the Texas Rangers in the first ever Pride Night at America’s favorite ballpark. Though gays and lesbians have been going to Fenway for years, there’s something special about doing it as a community.
Guerilla Queer Bar Pride Takeover
Friday, June 7
9 p.m. – 2 a.m.
TWC’s second Pride event promises to be bigger and better than ever. “We’re taking everything that’s douchey and disgusting and we’re going to make it fantastic,” said founder Daniel Heller. The surprise location of this normally straight club will be announced Thursday. Details on their website.
Friday, June 7
2 Arrow St., Cambridge
Music, dance and spoken word are among the performance arts celebrated in this showcase of talents that is so engaging, you will feel like you’re part of it.
Friday, June 7
11 p.m. – 2 a.m.
2 Arrow St., Cambridge
Free with admission, cluboberon.com
The official EN-ER-GY afterparty is the only LGBTQ hip-hop and R&B party of Pride weekend! The 18+ urban music party invites you to wine, grind and twerk. Proceeds to benefit the Hispanic Black Gay Coalition.
PRIDE SPOTLIGHT: The Welcoming Committee
Though gay men and women no longer have to hide their watering holes behind darkened windows and discreet entrances, there’s still plenty of places (even in Boston) where the welcome mat isn't always rolled out.
The Welcoming Committee is changing all that.
Five and a half years ago, a group called Guerrilla Queer Bar began taking over straight bars on the first Friday of every month. This activist movement morphed into an organization with 13,000-plus members that turns spaces gay for one night only.
According to TWC founder Daniel Heller, “we’re not so much taking over straight bars; we’re bringing the comfort that is unique to gay bars with us. Part of what I love is you have to show up at an event to get it. We sort of take something over like an army and make it welcoming without displacing anyone or making them feel uncomfortable.”
The group, which will be rolling out in several other cities later this year, also does “takeovers” at sporting and arts events, as well as some destination travel.
While membership isn’t required, it’s usually the only way to find out the location of the next event. Metro has learned, however, that the secret location of their Pride Keg Party kickoff on Saturday is Who’s On First next to Fenway Park. Check out thewelcomingcommittee.com for the rest.