Steve Kerrigan, Democratic nominee for Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts in the 2014 election, was one of the many LGBT participants who walked in Boston’s St. Patrick’s day parade for the first time in the city’s history on Sunday afternoon.
“When we took the first step, we didn’t know what the reception was going to be, but the people of Boston were welcoming and warm the way they always are,” he said.
From 2009 to 2012, Kerrigan served as the CEO of the Democratic National Convention, and also served as the president of the 2013 Presidential Inaugural Committee. He currently lives in Lancaster, Mass. with his partner Jacob Watts.
“I got the chance to march with my partner, with whom I marched in many parades during my campaign,” Kerrigan said. “This is one parade that we purposely didn’t do because of the controversy around it until this year. The look of excitement and the energy behind the crowd’s cheers was really palpable and encouraging.”
Arguing that gay relationships conflicted teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, the parade’s organizers had excluded LGBT groups for two decades.
For the first time, two different organizations with openly gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender marchers were given the opportunity to join Boston in its celebration this year. The first group, Boston Pride, focuses more on LGBT awareness and has its own parade during Pride Month in June. A group that honors LGBT Veterans, OutVets, marched as well.
“I knew the people of Boston pretty well, I knew they had generous hearts,” Kerrigan said. “Given the decades of debate on this issue, it was remarkable to see the warmth with which people greeted the groups.”
The parade’s route was cut in half this year due to the city’s record high snowfall. Spectators of every age group, were present at the parade, despite the foul weather. Overall, the crowd was very receptive to the LGBT participants and cheered them on as they marched across the city.
“We were treated like rock stars walking down the street,” Kerrigan said. “The most encouraging part, I think, was the young people. It was them with whom I was really impressed with, we could hear them saying to each other, ‘It’s about time,’ or, ‘I can’t believe it took so long to get this done.’”
There has been a highly optimistic and encouraging reaction from the Boston College campus as well. Although there was no organized group that marched in the event, many students were enthusiastic about the historic inclusion this year.
“We are, of course, excited to see LGBT inclusion in the St. Patrick’s Day parade this year and believe it is an important part of the continued equal treatment of LGBT individuals in our country.” said Martin Casiano, Vice President of the UGBC’s Division of Diversity and Inclusion.
Several BC students were overjoyed to hear that LGBT organizations could march in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade after such a long fight of exclusion: “No matter what sexual orientation you are, everyone is a human being,” Veronica Martins, A&S ’18, said. “It’s amazing to hear about people being able to come together, embrace who they are, and partake in such an iconic event.”
Moving forward, Kerrigan hopes that there are no more vestiges of discrimination and exclusion left in Massachusetts, and eventually everywhere. Although Massachusetts was the first state to legalize same-sex marriage in the United States, he argues there are still actions needed to be taken to give additional rights to transgender citizens.
“We’ve got a big bill coming before the Legislature about transgender equality,” he said. “We have a Republican governor who supports marriage equality, which is a wonderful thing to have, but he also has to step up when it comes to transgender rights.”
Featured Image by Steven Senne / AP Photo