Leading with Pride

Linda Hixon
The Hopedale GSA leads the Boston Pride Parade.  Photo courtesy of Marie Urmston.
Issue Date: 
July, 2019
Article Body: 

Students of Hopedale Junior-Senior High School’s Gender and Sexuality Alliance were honored to lead the Boston Pride Parade on Saturday, June 8. The group has marched in the Boston parade since 2015 and was awarded “Best Youth Group” out of the hundreds of groups that marched in 2018, leading to the chance to be positioned directly behind the Boston Pride Banner this year, a true position of pride.
The central theme of the 2019 parade was “Looking Back, Loving Forward,” as this year marks the 50th anniversary of Stonewall Uprising in New York City. In 1969, the community held their ground during a police raid at the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwich Village. That stand turned into a riot which eventually led to the Gay Liberation Movement and annual Pride Parades across the country during the month of June.
The GSA is a very active group at Hopedale Jr.-Sr. High, working to protect the safety of students regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The group also helps students to access resources, along with educational outreach about LGBTQ issues for members and the greater community. The club is advised by teachers John Mancone and Marie Urmston, and the student officers for 2018-19 were Susan Scanlon as President, Emily Ferrucci as Vice President, Adam Banayan as Secretary, Kiera Seaver as Public Relations Chair, and Evan Malia as Fundraising Chair.
“What makes me the happiest about bringing the students to march, is the opportunity for them to engage with the larger LGBT community and seeing them express their most authentic selves in such a joyous and fulfilling way,” John Mancone said.
The Boston Pride Parade is viewed by hundreds of thousands of people as it wends its way from Copley Square through neighborhoods like the Back Bay, the South End, and Beacon Hill, finally ending at the Boston Pride Festival at Government Center. GSA President Susan Scanlon noted that parade was locally and nationally televised, and the students of the Hopedale GSA were featured on several media webpages, including a Boston Globe photograph which identified the Hopedale group. In fact, Scanlon was surprised at the number of photos of the group on the internet after the parade.
“There’s one of me shaking the hand of the police commissioner but at the time I didn’t know who he was or that my picture was being taken,” she said with a laugh. “It’s kind of cool through – we were like celebrities for a day.”
“Our group has been participating in Boston Pride for years now, but this year tops all,” Kiera Seaver noted. “To be able to lead the parade on the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots is an incredibly meaningful opportunity, and it’s definitely an experience I’ll remember for the rest of my life. I’m honored to be an officer of Hopedale GSA and I’m so proud of what we’ve accomplished as a group over the years.” Member Kate Hockenbury agreed. “As an ally, I was nervous about leading the parade, but was met with a wave of acceptance. I am so proud that I was able to be there to support my fellow GSA members.”
Susan Scanlon credited the group’s advisors with helping the GSA have such a successful year. “We could not have done it without our advisors who are amazing role models for all of us, and inspire me to be the best person and advocate I can be,” she said. “To first win Best Youth Group at Boston Pride 2018 and then be able to lead the parade this year has made me so proud of our group here and the progress we’ve made. I’m honored to be an officer of Hopedale GSA and I’m so proud of what we’ve accomplished as a group over the years.”