“Stronger Together” - UCC Represents at 47th Boston PridePride Day, Saturday, June 10, could not have been more beautiful. The largest parade ever gathered was full of the feeling that we needed to be doing this right now. The picture included babies claiming their first Pride parade, youngsters on razor scooters, a plethora of drag, whole Pride families, signs supporting trans people and signs proclaiming self-worth. “Stronger Together” was a call to community, recognizing that much has been achieved, many have been lost, and we are all connected to each other for safety, caring and action.
Many of the 170 Mass Conference ONA churches took part in Boston Pride, marching, dancing, riding floats or spectating. Several individual churches had their own floats or marching groups. There was also the annual contingent of ONA churches (80 people strong) marching behind the red and black banner reading: “Massachusetts Conference ONA Churches - God’s Extravagant Welcome - Our Faith is 2000 Years old. Our thinking is not.” Add the image of 20 small individual rainbow church signs behind it and you get quite an affirming message, not lost on the appreciative LGTBQ and ally community of spectators.
Reneé Manning is a member of South Church Andover, UCC, a student at Andover Newton and student pastor at First Congregational Church UCC in Reading. She turned the Pulse Night Club tragedy into a beautiful tribute. She says:
Moved by the Pulse of Orlando - The Grand Dance
“…a year ago I walked/danced in the Boston Pride Parade…As a trans-woman I could not be prouder than to walk with Open and Affirming churches. To be accepted by the church is an amazing feeling, especially when history has shown that the GLBT community has been marginalized by many churches.
“Walking the Pride Parade is three miles of pure joy…Safe places are few and far between. We carried flags and instruments as we sang and danced along the route. I went home elated and pumped about a most exciting, energetic, loving day.
“I woke up the next morning and heard the news of the Pulse Night Club massacre in Orlando Florida. I was devastated. I went from a mountaintop experience to the lowest of valleys.
“These wonderful, innocent young people were dancing as I was 15 hours before. I could not cry enough. I could not attend or speak at enough vigils. I wondered if I could ever dance again. A year later my heart is still torn.
“I decided I wanted to do something to honor the victims and survivors of that horrible evening. I want to dance again in their honor, but not alone.
“I created an entry for this year’s Pride Parade called “The Grand Dance”. I invited everyone I could reach to walk/dance with me. My goal was 1,000 people walking or dancing…hence “The Grand Dance”! I purchased 600 12”x18” Pride flags for the dancers.
“Some survivors heard of this tribute to them and 29 survivors came to celebrate with us. The float featured 49 flags and the name of each person lost. Supporters surrounded the float with a sea of love and support.”
Reneé turned her deep feelings into this beautiful action. The float honoring the Pulse victims and survivors headed the whole Boston parade. (Photo by Chris Christo)