06/01/2012 10:50 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The History Project in Boston Preserves Our Pride


In Memory of Donna 'Woody' Woodward
December 1, 1944 -- June 13, 2009

Boston kicked off Pride with an important art exhibition "Pride: 40 Years of Protest & Celebration." I talked with photographer Orlando Del Valle who serves on the Board of Directors of The History Project that is co-presenting this exhibition with the Boston Center for Adult Education that runs through June 30.

The History Project was established in 1980 by a group of historians, activists and archivists. The organization is the only group focused exclusively on preserving the history of Boston's LGBT community and on making that history accessible to future generations. Del Valle's photo of Donna 'Woody' Woodward is part of this significant art exhibit. Woodward was an icon of Boston Pride and a founder of the motorcycle club Moving Violations. She was best known each year for leading the Boston Pride Parade with Moving Violations sporting her rainbow-colored Mohawk haircut. In 2008 Boston Mayor Thomas Menino declared June 7 Woody Woodward Day in the city in recognition of Woodward's many years of work for organizations focused on HIV/AIDS, breast cancer and other causes. I talked to Orlando about the exhibit, The History Project and issues facing our LGBT community.

Massachusetts is celebrating its 8th anniversary of legalizing gay marriage. When asked what his reaction was to President Obama finally coming out in support of marriage equality Del Valle stated, "Everyone wants what they want when they want it, which is the kind of sensibility that we have today. I'm thrilled that he has, and I know that he wanted to do it. I understand that people say, 'Well it's about time and that you're too late' but the reality is that Massachusetts is not the rest of the country and not the rest of the world. What he does and how he does it has to be really controlled and resonate so he will be re-elected. Otherwise we'll have a country that will be ruled by essentially corporate interests, which is all about money and not about anything else. And the first ones to go will be people of color, gay and lesbian and transgender people, I mean that kind of thing. So I'm, happy that he did it and I think it was very brave of him."

Drawn from The History Project's archive, "Pride: 40 Years of Protest & Celebration" traces the development of Pride in Boston from a sparsely attended protest against the War in Vietnam to a massive celebration that draws hundreds of thousands of participants in June. The pieces displayed in the exhibition showcase the immense cultural and political changes that have affected New England's LGBTQ communities over the decades. Along with Del Valle's photos are black and white portraits by photographer Joel Benjamin and artifacts including banners, buttons and t-shirts. The exhibit reflects the rich diversity of our LGBTQ community and the role of Pride in creating a safe space for self-expression. The exhibition is free and open to the public during the BCAE's normal business hours, Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and on select weekends at 122 Arlington Street, Boston, Massachusetts.

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