A day before the horrific shootings at a gay nightclub in Orlando, only rain could have dampened the spirits of both the participants and onlookers of the 2016 Boston Pride Parade—perhaps the shining jewel in the month-long crown of Boston Pride events.

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Mayor Marty Walsh held a prime position near the front of this year’s parade.

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Two festival attendees huddle under a pride flag wet by the rain.

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Dogs were numerous in attendance, wearing rainbow gear just like their human owners.

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A young man, enveloped in a pride flag and wearing various other decorations, observes the parade as it passes by.

The steady flow of marchers—human and animal alike—along the almost 2.5 mile route originating in Copley Square was flanked on either side by thousands of spectators decked in rainbow flags and paraphernalia whose cheers echoed resoundingly through crowded downtown streets.

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Samantha Johnson, a singer and contestant on America’s Got Talent Season 10, takes the mainstage to perform with a large pride flag as her backdrop.

At its terminus in Government Center, the parade continued its exuberant display in a stationary setting: a festival replete with food vendors, informational stalls, and live performances.

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A marcher dressed in a Stormtrooper costume and wearing a rainbow skirt closely follows fellow cosplayers in the parade.

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An elderly couple walks arm-in-arm along the parade route.

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A woman marches along with Jewish queer organizations holding a sign that reads, “Nobody knows I’m a הומו (homo)”

In line with the slogan of this year’s festivities, “Solidarity through Pride,” well on display was the fact that this was truly a welcoming space for all—cosplayers in intricately designed outfits of video game characters, drag performers with flashy dresses and perfectly-done makeup, Episcopalian ministers in purple robes and rainbow stoles, elderly folk waving their rainbow flags as passionately as everyone else.

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Students from McAuliffe School GSA were just one of many educational and community groups represented in the parade.

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A security officer looks on as supporters of Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey walk by.

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Employees of TD Bank passed out thousands of hand-sized pride flags and other items marked with the bank’s logo.

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Novartis describes itself as “a global healthcare company based in Switzerland that provides solutions to address the evolving needs of patients worldwide.”

It was also an event hospitable to many vested interests. Among these were organizations who have long been at home in Pride events but also relative newcomers—most notably a swath of elected officials ranging from Boston City Councilor Tito Jackson to Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healy as well as a number of corporate entities including banks, Uber, Lyft, and health companies. Attendees were made well aware of the presence of these individuals and organizations. Nearly all of the rainbow flags being waved, for example, were subtly emblazoned with the letters “TD” on their green stripe.

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The rideshare company Lyft was very visible with its colorfully-designed car and footsoldiers following behind.

In its 46th year, Boston Pride was, indeed, as the Boston Globe called it, a “celebration, and a statement.” But the questions seem relevant: Whose celebration? What statement?

Certainly, the intentions and spirits of vast majority of the event’s attendees were well-rooted and authentic. But the jury may still be out on the presence of certain paraders, namely the political figures and corporate entities. Are they exploiting an audience to promote their message? Or are they simply allies expressing their support?

Regardless, Boston was lucky to have one day of sheer joy before the tragedy in Orlando. Hours after news of the shootings broke on Sunday, two block parties in the Back Bay and Jamaica Plain neighborhoods went on as planned, although not first without a moment of silence in memory of the victims. Partygoers described the events as opportunities to express solidarity and demonstrate courage rather than giving into fear.  

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A man wearing signs proclaiming “Jesus is Lord” and passing out informational pamphlets was largely ignored by festival attendees.

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Boston City Hall flew a large rainbow flag and a smaller one (not pictured) on a flagpole right next to the respective flags of the United States, State of Massachusetts, and City of Boston.

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It wouldn’t be a proper public event in Boston without an appearance from at least one of the famed duckboats.

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