Local

Community rallies around LGBTQ-friendly housing project, covers signs of hate with signs of love

"Hyde Park and Boston showed up to be with us yesterday, to bear witness with us, to stand in the pain and anger with us, to share this burden with us," the leader of the project wrote Monday.

Rallygoers who gathered to support the LGBTQ+-friendly housing project The Pryde in Hyde Park Sunday covered hateful spray-painted vandalism with their signs of love. Gretchen Van Ness

In the wake of vandals spray-painting homophobic slurs and threats on signs for Boston’s first LGBTQ-friendly affordable senior housing project, the surrounding neighborhood has shown fierce support for the LGBTQ+ community and the housing project itself.

On Sunday morning, LGBTQ Senior Housing Inc., a non-profit that works to create safe, affordable housing for seniors, especially those belonging to the LGBTQ+ community, discovered that their signs for The Pryde — their flagship housing project in Hyde Park — had been vandalized.

Among the hateful messages was the frequent use of the derogatory f-word for homosexuals and threats to burn the building down and kill homosexuals.

Advertisement:

But within just a few hours of discovering the vandalism, the non-profit worked with local politicians such as Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, Boston City Councilmembers Ricardo Arroyo and Ruthzee Louijeune, and State Rep. and lieutenant governor candidate Tami Gouveia to organize a rally in support of the LGBTQ+ community.

At 4 p.m. Sunday, people gathered outside The Pryde. LGBTQ Senior Housing Executive Director Gretchen Van Ness said over email that she estimates there were over 100 people at the rally.

“In all the years I’ve worked on LGBTQ issues, I’ve never seen such an outpouring of genuine shock and concern from people outside the LGBTQ community about an attack on our community,” she wrote.

“It’s astonishing. I’m still getting messages and phone calls from folks across Hyde Park who are appalled and heartbroken and want to know what they can do to help and support us.”

Van Ness said leaders at LGBTQ Senior Housing made the conscious decision to leave the graffiti up for people to see.

“The graffiti is so hateful and shocking that the first impulse is to want to make it go away. Many neighbors contacted me immediately Sunday morning and offered to help take down the defaced signs. But this attack on The Pryde is not just about us — it’s an attack on Hyde Park, on all of Boston,” she wrote.

Advertisement:

“…It was meant to shame us. We refuse to be shamed or bullied. It’s the cowards who vandalized The Pryde who should be ashamed.”

Van Ness added that as she and others have worked over the years to make safe and affordable housing for LGBTQ+ elders a reality, many people have told them that they don’t see the need and don’t believe that their community still faces any kind of discrimination or harassment — especially in Massachusetts.

“As painful as it is to see what hatred of our community look like, it’s real and it hasn’t gone away. This attack shows exactly why we need The Pryde,” she wrote.

The Boston Herald reported that Mayor Wu spoke at the rally.

“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,” Mayor Wu said.

Wu said that the Boston Police Civil Rights Unit is actively investigating the incident and reviewing camera footage from the area, the Herald reported, but a spokesperson for Boston police said there were no new developments as of Monday.

Advertisement:

After the rally, organizers asked attendees to cover the hateful messages with the signs of love and support that they had brought to the rally.

These signs, decorated with rainbows and hearts, had messages such as “Everybody belongs in Hyde Park,” “Pryde stands tall,” “Love conquers hate,” and “We are in this together.”

Rallygoers who gathered to support the LGBTQ+-friendly housing project The Pryde in Hyde Park Sunday covered hateful spray-painted vandalism with their signs of love. – Gretchen Van Ness
Rallygoers who gathered to support the LGBTQ+-friendly housing project The Pryde in Hyde Park Sunday covered hateful spray-painted vandalism with their signs of love. – Gretchen Van Ness
Rallygoers who gathered to support the LGBTQ+-friendly housing project The Pryde in Hyde Park Sunday covered hateful spray-painted vandalism with their signs of love. – Gretchen Van Ness
Local

“What started out as a bleak and terrible day [Sunday] turned into a triumph of community and a deep and shared commitment to a better future,” Van Ness wrote.

“I’ve been asked if this attack makes me afraid. I’m surprised to realize that it hasn’t, and that’s because of how Hyde Park and Boston showed up to be with us yesterday, to bear witness with us, to stand in the pain and anger with us, to share this burden with us.”

The Pryde broke ground last month and is expected to be completed in 2023. The project will turn the old William Barton Rogers School into 74 units of mixed-income housing for all seniors, including LGBTQ+ seniors.

“Haters and cowards will not stop The Pryde.,” LGBTQ Senior Housing Inc. wrote on Facebook Monday.

“The attack on our community only strengthens our commitment to our mission and work to create affordable housing that’s welcoming and safe for our LGBTQ elders, on whose shoulders we stand and who we hold in our hearts today and every day.”

Conversation

This discussion has ended. Please join elsewhere on Boston.com