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New ‘Rainbow Revolutionaries’ tour reveals Boston’s LGBTQ+ history

Rainbow Revolutionaries freedom trail walking tour Boston LGBTQ history elaine noble park street church revolutionary war Major General baron von steuben
Stan Grossfeld/The Boston Globe via Getty Images; Shutterstock Creative; Yale University Art Gallery via US National Park Service

The special Pride Month tour visits historic sites and promises to reveal the secrets of famed artists, actors, and one Revolutionary War hero.

Just in time for Pride, a new tour on Boston’s historic Freedom Trail highlights the history of the city’s LGBTQ+ community.

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The Rainbow Revolutionaries Tour promises to reveal Boston’s history on marriage equality and LGBTQ+ rights, as well as the lives and loves of some of the local community’s famed figures – including one world-famous actress and one Revolutionary War hero.

The Rainbow Revolutionaries Tour is roughly one mile long and takes about 1.5 hours to complete. The tour route is varied, going through parks and streets, and follows the larger 2.5-mile-long Freedom Trail.

The tour begins on the Boston Common next to the Robert Gould Shaw and Massachusetts 54th Regiment Memorial. Shaw was an abolitionist who raised and led the 54th, comprised of Black soldiers, into battle in the Civil War. The 1989 film Glory detailed the exploits of Shaw and the soldiers.

The first stop on the Rainbow Revolutionaries Tour is the historic Massachusetts State House. Completed in January 1798, the building is considered a classic example of Federal architecture and has been designated a National Historic Landmark. Elaine Noble, the nation’s first out LGBTQ+ state legislator, served within its hallowed halls. Sworn into office on New Year’s Day 1975 by then-Gov. Michael Dukakis, Noble served two terms in the state legislature.

The next stop on the tour is the historic Park Street Church atop Beacon Hill. The church was founded in 1809 and the current structure opened its doors in 1810. Park Street Church provided an early platform for 19th-century activists to speak out against slavery. Abolitionist Edward Beecher, brother of early Black activist and author Harriet Beecher Stowe (Uncle Tom’s Cabin), became the church’s pastor in 1826. Fellow anti-slavery activist and noted author, publisher, and speaker William Lloyd Garrison delivered a speech in the church in 1829.

The tour’s final stop is the Old Corner Bookstore. The building housed the publisher Ticknor and Fields, which published such noted American titles as The Scarlet Letter, Walden, and TheMidnight Ride of Paul Revere.

The Rainbow Revolutionaries Tour runs on Saturdays and Sundays starting at 10:45 a.m., but only for June. Tickets are $17 for adults, $15 for seniors, and $8 for children. You can learn more and purchase tickets at thefreedomtrail.org.

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