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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, November 14 - Volume 42 Issue 46
History made as Gay vets march in Boston Veterans Day Parade
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History made as Gay vets march in Boston Veterans Day Parade

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

A group representing LGBT military veterans marched, for the very first time, in Boston's annual Veterans Day parade.

OutVets, a non-partisan and non-political group, had 30 people show up to march Tuesday.

Spokesman Ryan McGill said the Suffolk County American Legion, the parade organizers, have embraced the group and its message of promoting awareness about the contributions of Gay armed service members with 'open arms and strong support.'

The parade's acceptance of OutVets stands in contrast to the South Boston St. Patrick's Day parade, whose private organizers have blocked Gay groups from marching for years - a controversial decision upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Boston Mayor Martin Walsh called OutVets' participation in the parade a 'groundbreaking historical moment.'

'Today we made the statement that we're honoring our veterans, whether you're Gay, whether you're straight, whether you're black, whether you're white, we all have shed the same red blood,' OutVets founder and CEO Bryan Bishop said.

From Boston Common to City Hall, loud applause followed the OutVets.

'It was an amazing experience, it really blew me out of the water the outpouring of support that we got from the folks that were lining up the streets,' OutVets COO Robert Santiago said.

'I think it's wonderful. I think everybody should always be included,' Newton resident Wendy Matthews said.

'I think it's great. I think they should just be marching as everybody else,' Medford veteran Brian O'Neill said.

Some veterans had mixed feelings about letting OutVets into Boston's parade.

'They're all God's people so you know, if this is what it is, this is what it is, each of us have our own beliefs,' Boston Army vet Wanna Flores said.

But parade organizer Stephen Peers said the decision to let the group in was simple.

'They're veterans, period,' he said.

'I was very emotional, every person who marched in our organization today never thought this would happen,' Bishop said.

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