Boston University students, faculty blaze LGBT freedom trail

Photo courtesy of The Daily Free Press

There may be no trail of rainbow-colored bricks commemorating Boston’s LGBT history—at least not yet—but a group of Boston University faculty and students embarked on their own walking tour, traversing the footsteps of homoerotic poet Walt Whitman all the way up to the steps of the Massachusetts State House where same-sex marriage was first recognized as a legal right.

The Daily Free Press, the independent school newspaper at BU, reports in an Oct. 28 article that the Boston by Foot tour was “one of many events included in [Boston University’s] Sacred Worth’s first OUTober initiative, a month-long event series in conjunction with October’s LGBT History Month.”

One highlight of the tour, reports the article, covered the history of Boston’s Pride parade, which, recounts tour guide Barry DeVinke, began in 1971 and:

started at Jacques, Boston’s oldest LGBT establishment at the time. Protestors demanded that staff improve the misogynistic treatment of lesbian patrons. Afterward, the protestors went to the former police headquarters on Berkeley Street to protest the constant harassment of gay people.

“It was only 300 people, but that was enough to get the word out,” DeVinke said.

DeVincke said he has been a proud member of the LGBT community while living in Boston for the past 51 years and was thus able to provide not just the facts of Boston’s LGBT history, but in many cases, a first-hand account.

For [OUTober organizer Nathan] Bakken, learning about the protest march and the more militant spirit of the time was an interesting contrast to today’s mainstream gay pride movement.

“I think from our modern standpoint, when we think of gay pride, we think about floats and rainbows,” Bakken said. “We think of half-naked men and parties, and thinking of gay pride and the history of it within Boston, that it was 300 people protesting not to be harassed and for better treatment, I think that kind of shapes how we interact with pride within our own contemporary society.”