Hyde Park Gathers In Support After Vandalism Of LGBTQ+ Housing Community

One of the hateful messages on a construction sign is covered up by messages from the community at The Pryde, a soon-to-be LGBTQ+ senior living community in Hyde Park. Photo: Courtesy LGBTQ Senior Housing Inc.

BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — The Hyde Park community rallied in support on Sunday evening after a planned LGBTQ+ senior living community was vandalized there over the weekend.

Mayor Michelle Wu, City Councilor Ricardo Arroyo, and many community members showed up to The Pryde project to express solidarity with the LGBTQ community, putting up messages of support over hateful graffiti that was sprayed all over the planned community's signs. Mayor Wu pledged to help complete the project faster in response to the vandalism.

The project to convert the former Barton Rodgers School into LGBTQ-friendly senior housing broke ground in June. Gretchen Van Ness, the Executive Director of LGBTQ Senior Housing Inc., says she woke up on Sunday to frantic messages that the project had been vandalized.

"I got in my car and came over to the building and every single sign on Everett Street... and every single sign on Harvard Street is defaced with threats to kill us, threats to burn the building down, threats saying that we will die in hell, every single sign has something horrible and ugly like that on it, telling us to get out," she told WBZ NewsRadio.

The organization has filed a police report in response to the graffiti.

Van Ness says she wasn't surprised that the project is a target, but that she's heartbroken "because this community has been so welcoming, and embraced us."

The Pryde will be a first-of-its-kind housing community in Boston and all of New England, according to Van Ness. She said that the generation set to live here survived the AIDS epidemic and the struggle for marriage equality, and remember a time when they didn't have their current rights.

"They grew up at a time when there weren't any laws that protected us against discrimination and harassment...these are the folks that are most likely not to have family and community and church support them in their old age," she explained.

The vandalism has only made Van Ness double down on her mission.

"There's far too many people still who don't grant us our basic human dignity," she said.

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