The Pryde, Boston’s first-ever LGBTQ senior home, currently under construction, was vandalized with threatening hate speech on Sunday, July 10.
LGBTQ Senior Housing Inc., a nonprofit that organized construction of the senior housing project, posted images of the graffiti on its Facebook page, which included the phrases “The faggots will die by fire” and “die slow.”
On its Facebook page, LGBTQ Senior Housing Inc. condemned the vandalism.
“We were heartbroken to wake up this morning to the terrible news that The Pryde was vandalized overnight with hate speech and threats spray painted on virtually every sign,” the statement read. “We will not let bullies and cowards stop our work to create safe and welcome affordable housing for our LGBTQ elders. We will not let hate go unchallenged in Hyde Park.”
The Pryde is set to open in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Boston in 2023. It would become New England’s first senior housing project with a focus on LGBTQ seniors.
After initial stories broke in the press about the graffiti, Boston residents arrived at the site to protest, including Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, who spoke outside The Pryde construction site, reassuring LGBTQ seniors — and all LGBTQ people in Boston — that the messages of hate have no place in the city.
“Although there are some who, under cover of darkness, seem to feel a need to spew hatred and try to intimidate or slow down the forces of representation, of love, of community, we have seen where this community stands already,” Wu said, adding that the Boston Police Civil Rights Unit was actively investigating the incident and reviewing camera footage from the area.
“This is the second straight weekend of Boston being marred by hatred and intolerance,” Suffolk District Attorney Kevin Hayden said in a statement, referencing a white supremacy march through the city a week prior. “This cannot stand. My office will prosecute threats to the LGBTQ+ community wherever and whenever they occur.”
Several people in attendance at the protest noted that the vandals had “picked the wrong old ladies to mess with.”
Those “wrong old ladies” in question are Gretchen Van Ness and Aileen Montour, President and Executive director of LGBT Senior Housing, respectively. The pair have chosen to keep the graffiti up, in an effort to display to the greater community the threats that LGBTQ people still face.
The Pryde living center is “for people who lived through periods in which every major religion condemned them, who were told by the American Psychological Association their queerness was a disease, who survived the AIDS crisis,” Van Ness said. “[It’s a place] to live safely and with dignity.”
“Hate has no boundary,” said Alejandra Caraballo a clinical instructor at Harvard Law’s Cyberlaw Clinic and transgender rights advocate. “There are going to be people that have anti-LGBTQ views even in very progressive metropolitan areas. When you start conflating LGBTQ people to pedophiles and being dangerous to children, it’s no surprise that people start to take radical actions into their hands and inflict violence.”
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