Once-barred OUTVET leads Southie pa­rade

Boston Herald - - NEWS - By SEAN PHILIP COTTER — sean.cotter@boston­her­ald.com

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.”



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