The Insidious Truth Behind Boston’s “Straight Pride” Parade

“It was white nationalists and far-right conservatives all along!”


On Aug. 31, Boston was the unfortunate host to the inaugural Straight Pride parade. It has been met with a Statler-and-Waldorf style of retorts from the Twitter peanut gallery, an outpour of queer activists and historians making valid points online of how a straight pride parade is not only unnecessary but completely circumvents the decades of work the queer community has done to secure civil rights and societal acceptance. Taking a closer look at what lead to the event and the men who organized it, we uncover not only their true intentions, but a method of spreading their beliefs, gaining more followers and traction, and free publicity where they could be seen as the “victim.”

It all started April 20, when the newly formed group Super Happy Fun America was denied their request to fly the straight pride flag outside Boston City Hall and chose to retaliate with a full-on parade. They also include a list of demands that attempts to undermine the validity of long-standing Boston Pride. Not only are the demands outlandish (“Add an ‘S’ to LGBTQ because it’s more inclusive that way”), but the fact they request the same level of respect as Boston Pride bolsters their cause and gives it more clout.

On June 6, Mayor Marty Walsh stressed that city permits state they technically cannot deny the parade permits based on the values of the organization. The Straight Pride parade in no way encompasses the views of Boston and urged support for their annual Pride Week.

Regardless of what the group’s values may be, dedicating city resources and a healthy police presence to a group whose organizers are involved with neo-Nazis and white supremacists might be a tinge problematic.

Brad Pitt threatened litigation against Super Happy Fun America on June 7 for using his name and likeness as a “mascot” for the event. Super Happy Fun America then switched over to Milo Yiannopoulos, who was the official grand marshall of the parade, citing a “scheduling conflict” for Pitt’s absence. Whether it was an obvious ploy for attention and publicity or an actual attempt to use Pitt as a mascot for “heroic masculine virtues,” at least the work could help Yiannopoulos chip away at some of his reported debt.

The permit is approved by the city of Boston on June 26. Although the permit was approved, Boston still denied the group’s request to host the event at City Hall Plaza. Super Happy Fun America insists they are not a hate group. At the time of writing their about page stated:

[We advocate] on behalf of the straight community in order to foster respect and awareness with people from all walks of life.

They even go so far as to register as a nonprofit corporation.

Boston Pride releases a statement on Aug 26 where they call the whole thing “a trolling event” that seeks attention and acclaim while calling attention to the organizers themselves.


John Hugo, Mark Sahady, and Chris Bartley are the three men credited with organizing the event. Hugo ran for Congress in 2018, advocating for “respect for civil rights” and “[working] together to make our country a more tolerant place.” His campaign received support and endorsement from Resist Marxism, a group founded in 2017 by Kyle Chapman, a prominent member of the far-right who has a history of violence — most notably the instance where he attacked counter-protesters at a pro-Trump rally in 2017. Needless to say, Hugo lost his bid by an overwhelming margin. Resist Marxism and its members hold anti-Semitic, misogynist, and homophobic views and regularly hide behind ironic Internet humor to mask their true intentions.

Mark Sahady is an organizer for Resist Marxism and has tapped groups like the Proud Boys and Patriot Front to provide “security” for the events he organizes. The latter is recognized by the Anti-Defamation League as a white supremacist group while the former is recognized by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an extremist group. Sahady has a long history of participating in right-wing events around Boston.

Chris Bartley is not currently listed on the Super Happy Fun America website as the Gay Ambassador of the parade but was listed and cited by multiple sources as such at the time of the event. He also has ties to Resist Marxism and has Vice President Mike Pence as his banner on his Facebook Profile.

On Aug 31, the Straight Pride parade finally hits Boston, with the roughly 200 people in attendance dwarfed by counter-protesters. Footage shows a ghoulish hodgepodge of various straight pride and pro-Trump imagery set to the feel-good sounds of an all men’s choir rendition of “God Bless America.”

There was a heavy police presence, with both uniformed and plainclothes officers throughout the day. They arrested a total of 36 people, and the department is reviewing the use of force during the parade after videos surfaced of uniformed officers spraying counter-protesters with pepper spray. With signs like “Make Normalcy Normal Again” and a few flags of Israel being waved by parade attendees, one can see how things ended up getting heated.

Regardless of what officials say, the fact is that this event was organized and attended by people affiliated with violent right-wing nationalism, white supremacy, and outright neo-Nazism. Numerous publications call attention to the possible motives of this group. There is no excuse for the feigned ignorance of elected officials and the failings of public policy. There is a difference between opposing values and outright hate and malice.

The same laws and restrictions put in place to ensure the right to peacefully assemble are being perverted to apply to thinly veiled hate groups. This event mocks queer history and everything Pride stands for. It furthered the mockery of the marginalized with flags of Israel being waved by parade attendees, effectively trolling in real life. And it’s spreading.

Recently, a video of a city council meeting in Modesto, California went viral when another Straight Pride parade organizer made a Freudian slip calling their group “totally peaceful and racist.” Although the permit for the Modesto Straight Pride parade was denied, the potential spreading of events like these should be cause for deep concern.

By giving events like these a platform, we are allowing these groups to construct a narrative that benefits them. This rewrites reality to show them as the victim. By letting them take advantage of policy technicalities, we are allowing these groups to use tools marginalized communities have fought for the right to use. By allowing them to use these tools, we give weight to their cause. This permissiveness, this allowance, excuses their behavior and gives them opportunities to spread their hate.