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Shining Bright Boston Pride Parade of 2023



The streets of Boston were painted in brilliant rainbows as the city’s annual Pride celebration took over in early June 2023. After a couple of years of scaled-back festivities due to the pandemic, Boston Pride made a triumphant return this year with a jam-packed schedule of events to honor and uplift the region’s LGBTQ+ community

At the centerpiece was the iconic Boston Pride Parade on June 10th, which drew a massive crowd estimated at over 1 million people lining the streets. It marked the 53rd year of the parade, one of the world’s oldest annual LGBTQ pride events, and a core tradition commemorating the Stonewall uprising of 1969.

The festivities kicked off on June 2nd with Pride Night at the Boston Cistiti Gallery in Beacon Hill. The evening featured an unveiling of a new art installation titled “LoveSphere” by LGBTQ artist Izaar Quincy. Her massive rainbow sculpture made of repurposed materials aimed to inspire love, unity, and support for the community.

“This work is about the interconnectedness of the human experience and how we’re all deserving of equality, respect, and the freedom to be our true selves,” Quincy explained. Lovesphere served as the ceremonial kickoff for nearly two weeks of non-stop Pride celebrations.    

On June 3rd, the annual Pride Lights festivities turned Boston’s City Hall Plaza into an illuminated playground of colors, dance performances, music, food trucks, and other activities fun for the whole family. As nightfall set in, the unmistakable beams of rainbow lights cast a magical glow over downtown.

“Pride Lights is one of our favorite traditions because it really sets the tone for the rest of the festival,” said Linda DeMarco, President of Boston Pride. “The rainbow glow gets everyone excited and energized for the biggest Pride celebration on the East Coast.”

That energy only continued building throughout the week ahead of the parade. The Pride Arts Festival from June 5th to 9th transformed the Boston Public Library into an exhibition space showcasing the works of local LGBTQ artists, authors, filmmakers, and performers. 

Meanwhile, Back Bay’s luxurious Fairmont Copley Plaza hotel played host to the Pride Comedy Night on June 6th, featuring a stacked lineup of LGBTQ stand-up comics from Boston and beyond. It was followed by the annual Pride Youth Dance on the 8th, giving LGBTQ teens and young adults their own dedicated night to party.

Of course, no Pride Week would be complete without parties – and Boston had plenty of those in 2023. The week was packed with LGBTQ club nights,ylang events, gender-themed bashes, and more boisterous bashes throughout the city’s gay districts like Jamaica Plain and Northampton.  

“Pride is absolutely a celebration, but it’s also an opportunity to uplift and support our community businesses and spaces,” DeMarco said. “Our Pride parties and events help drive customers to LGBTQ-owned restaurants, bars, and other businesses that give so much back.”

The excitement reached a fever pitch on June 10th as the city shut down several major streets to make way for the beloved Boston Pride Parade. With temperatures in the 70s and not a cloud in the sky, the conditions were absolutely perfect to line the route from Copley Square to City Hall Plaza.

This year’s parade featured a staggering 380 contingents – the most in recent memory – made up of non-profit organizations, businesses, community groups, families and more decked out in their rainbow finest. Intermixed between the contingents were mobile stages blasting thumping beats and dancers thrilling the crowds.      

At the head of the procession was the esteemed group of Grand Marshals selected for their tireless efforts in supporting the LGBTQ community. The 2023 Marshals included pioneering activist Marcia Caldwell, director/producer Stanley Woodhouse, community advocate Grace Stowell-Kodwo, youth leader Gia Prato, and youth program director Carl Sciortino.

“The marshals are representative of the progress Boston has made in LGBTQ rights and visibility, while also highlighting the work we still have to do to achieve full equality,” Pride organizers shared. “From youth support to community advocacy and the arts, they are symbols of how far we’ve come.”

Also taking a prominent position was the colorfully decorated Boston Pride truck, taking its first-ever spin as an added parade centerpiece for 2023. The rainbow truck and its “We Belong” theme aimed to remind parade-goers of everyone’s deserved place in the community.

The procession took nearly 4 hours to make its way through the city streets, with no shortage of fabulous costumes, elaborate floats, and street performances to dazzle and delight the cheering onlookers. At the tail end, the infamous Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence provocatively satirized traditional Catholic nuns in their signature habits while raising funds for LGBTQ causes.

“The beautiful thing about Boston Pride is that it brings together the whole community – young and old, queer and allies, families and friends,” said parade contingent leader Kristy Castellino. “People feel so comfortable and free to just be themselves here.”  

That freedom and celebratory atmosphere carried over into the Pride Festival at City Hall Plaza following the parade. The festival grounds hosted four live music stages featuring a diverse range of local and national LGBTQ artists and performers.

The headlining guests this year were R&B/pop icon Betty Who and drag superstar Shea Coulee of RuPaul’s Drag Race fame. Their electric performances came during the rousing closing event after a full day of music, drag, dancing, and more entertainment across the festival’s multiple stages.

Hundreds of artisan vendors, non-profits, sponsors, and local businesses also set up shop on the sprawling plaza grounds, sharing resources, raising funds, and connecting with festival attendees all in the beautiful June sunshine. Those requiring a quick respite could duck inside the cool indoor lounge spaces to take a break.

The scents of food trucks serving LGBTQ-owned businesses danced through the air, complemented by beer and wine gardens ensuring no one went thirsty during the humid summer temperatures. Kids areas and designated zones like the Latinx Stage and Trans Tent ensured there were offerings for all segments of the community.

“Pride really feels like one big joyous family reunion for LGBTQ people and our allies from all backgrounds and identities,” DeMarco said. “That’s why we make sure there are dedicated spaces and activities so everyone feels completely welcome and celebrated.”

As the sun finally set over the festival grounds late in the evening, Boston Pride 2023 was capped off by dazzling fireworks and a drone light show illuminating the downtown skies. It provided one last brilliant display of the kaleidoscope of color and vibrant visibility that had swept over the city for the prior 9 days.

While extensive planning goes into pulling off Boston’s massive Pride week each year, the DeMarco and the Pride organization believe every ounce of effort is beyond worth it.

“Pride in Boston is such an important tradition, but it’s more than just a parade or parties – it’s about community empowerment,” DeMarco stated. “It’s about uplifting LGBTQ people, speaking out against discrimination, and letting everyone know they have a safe, supportive space here in this city to live authentically.”

“That life-affirming message is ultimately what Pride is all about.”

As another year of record-breaking Boston Pride festivities wrapped up, the 2023 celebration undoubtedly lived up to its reputation as one of the world’s largest and most vibrant LGBTQ pride events. Bostonians and visitors from around the world were treated to two weeks of unabashed joy, unity, and unwavering Pride that will provide many cherished memories until the rainbows take over the streets once again next year.

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