Youth Gay Pride Day

Everywhere I looked, I saw rainbows. Guys in their mid- to late teens in brightly colored skirts held hands as they listened to a transgender female make a speech on stage. Similarly-aged girls with spiked neon pink, green, yellow and blue hair grabbed condoms and Actual Reality pins from tables centered around a pavilion on the Boston Common. This colorful event was none other than Gay Youth Pride Day. Saturday, May 10 was Gay Youth Pride Day, an annual event for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth from the Boston area to gather with their supporters and celebrate their differences. The day started with a rally and parade and ended with the Boston Alliance of Gay Lesbian Bisexual & Transgender Youth (BAGLY) Prom in City Hall. Phillips Academy’s Gay-Straight Alliance organized a bus to Boston to attend this event. A half hour after Saturday classes, about fifteen students and Frank Tipton, faculty advisor to GSA, zoomed away to Boston, arriving around 11:30 a.m. Walking around at the rally was an overwhelming experience. I ended up with an aluminum rape whistle, magnets urging me to end partner abuse and a “Pledge Me!” Pin for the Boston AIDS walk this June. I tried to stuff everything into my backpack as I joined the throng of people crowding around the stage. The speeches themselves were just your average deals: “We’re queer; we’re here!” I ended up tuning them out and instead watching a group of teenagers who were holding a rainbow flag in front of the camera lens of a grim-faced old woman. Every time she moved the teenagers would follow and continue blocking her view. From listening to the conversations of other crowd members, I gathered that the woman was part of MassResistance, an anti-gay organization. But one Phillips Academy student, Radka Slamova ’08, made a good point when she asked me, “Doesn’t that woman have a right to take pictures?” After the speeches, the different schools and gay pride groups lined up and marched for half an hour on streets near the Boston Common – from Beacon to Bowdoin to Cambridge to Tremont. “One, two, three, four. Open up your closet door! Five, six, seven, eight. Don’t assume your kids are straight!” The marchers’ voices rang through the streets. Some onlookers cheered and waved in support. One topless young guy leaned out of his apartment window, grinning as he watched the crowd walk by. An older man yelled something along the lines of, “Don’t you guys come out! Things aren’t ever going to change!” At 6:30, our entire party reassembled and stood in line to get into City Hall, the site for BAGLY Prom. Although our group was one of the first to get in, it didn’t take long for the dance floor to become so crowded that it was almost impossible to move around in, let alone dance. While partying in City Hall, it was sometimes so hot that you needed to leave the dance floor just to get a little fresh air. Breaks entailed examining the gender-neutral bathrooms or gulping down water on the inner steps of City Hall with new acquaintances. At 10:45, the Phillips Academy group gathered together to head back home. Grabbing free bags filled with condoms and gels on the way out, we boarded the bus and drove back to Andover. It wasn’t until Sunday morning as I walked around our campus that I realized it. I’d had something of a culture shock at Youth Pride Day.