Founder and CEO of LGBTQ veteran group appointed as director of parade operations over the South Boston St Patrick’s Day parade.
The South Boston St Patrick’s Day parade has appointed the founder and CEO of an LGBTQ veteran group as the director of parade operations. The hiring comes just over a year since the parade found itself in the center of a media storm for not allowing the same gay group the right to walk in the Irish parade.
Bryan Bishop, an Air Force veteran, was hired by the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council who run the popular St Patrick’s Day parade as result of his experience of planning large events, as well as his advocacy for veterans.
“I’m humbled to my core, really,” Bishop said.
“We’ve gone full circle.”
TV Exclusive: The leader of the LGBTQ veterans group @OUTVETS will now run the South Boston St. Patrick’s Day parade. Bryan Bishop tells @SueNBCBoston how this came about. https://t.co/OfVDhKNcEf pic.twitter.com/Az5rRg05fn— necn (@NECN) July 12, 2018
The South Boston St Patrick’s Day parade is just one of the large March 17 celebrations that has previously found itself in the midst of a controversy for their stand on LGBTQ groups marching in the parade. In 2017, the council voted to bar Bishop’s own group OutVets from marching because of its rainbow flag. The decision was reversed after the pressure of criticism from politicians and sponsors.
Bishop has run OutVets, an organization of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people who’ve served in the armed forces, since its beginnings in 2014 and marched in the St Patrick’s Day parade for the next number of years until the 2017 ban.
'All the stuff we dealt with; in 2016 we were put in the back of the parade, in 2017 they tried to kick us out, then put us back in, but I think.. finally, there's a bridge of non-discrimination, a bridge of community,' says Bryan Bishop w/ @OUTVETS, appt. Parade Dir by @SBAWVC.— Laurie Kirby (@LaurieWBZ) July 12, 2018
Dave Falvey, the veterans council commander, told The Boston Globe that he hopes Bishop’s appointment, as a person who was once barred from taking part in the parade, will demonstrate how the council had now “moved forward.”
“We didn’t think it was right,” said Falvey, who took control over the organizing group after the 2017 controversy.
“I serve with LGBT service members — they’re our brothers and sisters. I definitely don’t feel comfortable excluding them.”
The South Boston parade had previously battled for decades for their right to exclude gay groups from the celebration. In 1995, they took their case the whole way to the US Supreme Court where they were unanimously awarded the right to bar LGBTQ groups if they so wished. Bishops' appointment is a massive turnaround, the veteran telling the Boston Herald that he was very proud the organization was putting their faith in him.
Boston's St Patrick's Day parade once went all the way to the Supreme Court to keep gays from marching. Now, a gay veteran is in charge of parade operations. https://t.co/5q8kT5Zbo4— Michael J. O'Loughlin (@MikeOLoughlin) July 13, 2018
“I want people to judge me on the content of my character and the quality of my work,” Bishop said.
"This is the parade. There’s a lot of people who travel here from all over the world to be a part of this parade.”
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