Large crowds gathered on the streets of Boston Sunday for the city’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which went off without any problems despite controversy over the inclusion of a gay veterans group.
Earlier this month, the South Boston Allied War Council told OutVets that they wouldn’t be able to march in Sunday’s parade because the organization failed to comply with guidelines prohibiting the carrying of a rainbow Pride banner last year.
However, the council reversed its decision after receiving considerable backlash from activists, the city’s Democratic Mayor Marty Walsh and even the state’s Republican Gov. Charlie Baker.
In the end, nearly two dozen OutVets members were able to march in the parade, where they were greeted by raucous cheers from parade attendees.
OUTVETS founder Bryan Bishop said he was encouraged by the group’s reception.
“You walk up and down this street and you see the rainbow flags everywhere in solidarity for inclusivity, for diversity and also to honor OutVets, so this is fantastic,” Bishop said.
The LGBT organization was first permitted to participate in the parade in 2015 after decades of resistance from the Allied War Council that kept queer groups out of the march.
“When we did this in 2015 we got a wonderful response in South Boston, but today goes beyond any expectation that we thought we would get,” Bishop said.
After this year’s debacle, parade organizers now say OutVets will be able to march in the annual event every year.
“All veterans, no matter who you are: you served this country, you deserve respect,” Bishop said. “You deserve the honor that’s befitting of someone who’s raised their right hand to serve this country.”