Many in the region’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community are gearing up Saturday morning to line the city’s streets for the 49th Boston Pride Parade, an annual celebration of the LGBTQ community’s gains in rights and respect, which this year marks the 50th anniversary of a turning point in the movement.
The march from Copley Square kicks off at noon and snakes through the Back Bay, South End, Bay Village, and past Boston Common to City Hall Plaza, drawing a record 431 registered marching groups this year, according to organizers, and likely to attract thousands of spectators.
The parade — and the Pride Month events that surround it — commemorate the Stonewall Uprising, a 1969 clash between LGBTQ patrons at a Greenwich Village bar, the Stonewall Inn, and New York police who routinely harassed them.
An attempted police raid spawned a riot, which grew into six days of enraged protests by LGBTQ New Yorkers who had grown weary of targeted persecution and political powerlessness, pushing a movement that had previously been mostly genteel into a militant phase.
And this week, New York Police Commissioner James O’Neill apologized for the raid, saying ‘‘the actions taken by the NYPD were wrong.’’
Boston Pride, the parade’s organizer, acknowledges that hinge point in the LGBTQ community’s longstanding battle for civil rights through the theme for this year’s celebration, “Looking Back, Loving Forward,” which also refers to the work that remains, as LGBTQ Americans see almost daily attacks on their ability to live freely and openly — from the White House, to pulpits, to the streets of the nation’s cities.
And last weekend, Providence Bishop Thomas J. Tobin tweeted a warning to his congregants that they shouldn’t support or attend Pride Month events, prompting a national outcry.
“They promote a culture and encourage activities that are contrary to Catholic faith and morals,” Tobin wrote. “They are especially harmful for children.”
Transgender women remain disproportionately likely to be victims of homicide, with at least eight in the US killed so far this year — all of them women of color, according to the Human Rights Campaign, a national LGBTQ advocacy group.
And a far-right provocateur made headlines this week after announcing plans for a so-called Straight Pride Parade in Boston that would follow the same route as the LGBTQ parade, touching off a firestorm of controversy and making Boston the butt of jokes nationwide about intolerance.
Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh, a vocal supporter of the LGBTQ community and a Pride Parade fixture, has said the proposed march is unlikely to draw a crowd, if it happens. But he conceded in a tweet Thursday that he couldn’t prevent organizers from getting a permit to hold their parade, because “permits to host a public event are granted based on operational feasibility, not based on values or endorsements of beliefs.”