Once-barred OUTVET leads Southie parade
The head of the LGBT veterans group that the Southie St. Patrick’s Day parade organization barred from marching a year ago is now running the show.
“I’m humbled to my core, really,” said Bryan Bishop, who the Allied War Veterans Council of South Boston yesterday named its head of parade operations. “We’ve gone full circle.”
The retired Air Force sergeant has run OUTVETS, an organization of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender folks who’ve served in the armed forces, since it began in 2014. The organization marched in the parade the next couple of years, but then the Southie parade group forbade them from marching in 2017, kicking off a firestorm.
Army National Guard Maj. David Falvey, the commander of the war veterans council, told the Herald yesterday it had become clear the old way of doing things just wasn’t working anymore.
“We didn’t think it was right,” said Falvey, who took over leadership of the group after the controversy of 2017.
“I serve with LGBT service members — they’re our brothers and sisters. I definitely don’t feel comfortable excluding them.”
This marks a massive change of course for a parade that’s struggled with this issue for nearly three decades — taking the fight all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1995. The high court unanimously granted the Southie parade organization the right to keep LGBT groups from marching.
Bishop told the Herald this is another indicator of the strides the LGBT community has made. The 20year retired vet said he’s also personally proud that the organization is putting the faith in him to pull off the event.
“I want people to judge me on the content of my character and the quality of my work,” Bishop said.
Falvey noted Bishop’s day job as Somerville’s commissioner of veterans affairs and his decades planning parades and celebrations as making him qualified for the job.
“This is the parade,” Bishop said. “There’s a lot of people who travel here from all over the world to be a part of this parade.”