President of Boston Pride Announces Resignation Amidst Boycott

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Thursday June 10, 2021

CEO and President of Boston Pride Linda DeMarco has announced her resignation as the boycott against the organization led by community groups continues, The Boston Globe has reported. (Article is behind a paywall.)

In a statement, DeMarco indicated that the ongoing protest against Boston Pride was a key factor for her departure, stating that her resignation was "a little accelerated now because I think the boycott is really hurting the community."

The Globe also noted that "activists who have been agitating for change in Boston Pride" had previously criticized the organization as "whitewashed and 'trans-exclusionary,'" citing a number of groups that have already stepped away from this year's Boston Pride celebrations. Some are planning their own events, such as Trans Resistance MA, which hosted its own celebration last summer after Boston Pride postponed 2020's event until this year.

In a recent interview broadcast on June 8, NECN's Sue O'Connell — who is also the publisher of local gay newspaper Bay Windows — spoked with DeMarco, summarizing the situation by saying, "Members of the trans community and members of communities of color - the BIPOC community - have been critical of Boston Pride because of what they view as a lack of diversity on your board and a lack of [commitment to] Black Lives Matter, even prior to this year."

When asked by O'Connell what the board was doing to address those complaints, DeMarco admitted that "we could do better," and said Boston Pride had hired "a diversity consulting firm - actually... the president of Black Pride in Boston," and took the "intentional steps to form a transformation advisory council from all of the community members, and they will pick the new leadership, they will pick the new board."

While Boston Pride has been under pressure for some time, things intensified this week when "four groups, including Trans Resistance, staged a political power play by persuading every major candidate for mayor to abandon Boston Pride's scheduled political forum and instead attend their own," according to the Globe.

Tensions around Boston Pride's leadership and direction continued to rise, but last summer was a tipping point as racial justice protests spread across the country after the death of George Floyd, an African American man, at the hands of a white police officer in Minneapolis.

"The Pride board rejected a statement drafted by its own communications team and issued a watered-down version without consulting its Black Pride subcommittee members," the Globe article added. "That was the last straw for many activists who felt Pride's board was not taking their feedback and was out of touch with their concerns."

A mass exodus of volunteers soon followed — 80% to be exact, as per the outlet.

Activists demanding change at Boston Pride went further still, which eventually sparked the boycott. Twenty-five organizations withheld their support in response. DeMarco told O'Connell that individuals had also stopped applying to be on Boston Pride's transformation advisory council.

Critics have said they want to see the entire board replaced and a far more diverse board put in its place.

O'Connell told the Globe, "The pandemic and the reckoning of our unjust racial past has just claimed the Pride committee because they were unable to actually do the right thing over many, many years."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.