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AdLib On March - 17 - 2014


Even though it started as an Irish celebration about religion, nationality, pride and political power, St. Patrick’s Day has become a celebration for all Americans. School children happily plan to wear green on this day so they won’t get pinched, people of all nationalities and religions meet for drinks, we’ve got green cupcakes and cookies, even green beer! And everyone’s invited to march together in a parade with their fellow Americans of Irish descent…unless you happen to be gay.

We would all be aghast at a 4th of July Parade in the South that restricted black people from openly marching in it due to bigotry but some seem to be far less bothered by the bigotry of St. Patrick’s Day parades against those Americans who are gay.

Those supporting gay rights have much to be pleased with in recent years but it doesn’t “balance out” public celebrations that continue to reflect hostility and prejudice towards fellow Americans simply because of their sexual preference. The mayors in New York and Boston have declined to participate in the main parades in their cities which still cling to homophobia but other government officials are participating and lending their credibility to them.

To be clear, the policy of these parades is more, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”. You can march in these parades if you’re gay (they don’t use gaydar screening) but you can’t appear to be gay or hold a sign or anything indicating you are gay or support LGBT rights.

Do those perpetuating this bigotry really have no awareness of their Irish heritage here in America,  in the UK and even within Ireland itself? When they were the ones who were treated with prejudice and disdain purely because of who they were when they were born? Do they not know their history about a time when signs and newspaper classifieds said things like, “Help Wanted – No Irish Need Apply”?

According to Wikipedia, in the 19th Century:

[The Irish] were often called “white Negroes.” Throughout Britain and the US, newspaper illustrations and hand drawings depicted a prehistoric “ape-like image” of Irish faces to bolster evolutionary racist claims that the Irish people were an “inferior race” as compared to Anglo-Saxons.


British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli stated publicly, “The Irish hate our order, our civilization, our enterprising industry, our pure religion. This wild, reckless, indolent, uncertain and superstitious race have no sympathy with the English character. Their ideal of human felicity is an alternation of clannish broils and coarse idolatry. Their history describes an unbroken circle of bigotry and blood.”


Those who are Irish have much in common with gays when it comes to being demonized and oppressed so it is morally wrong to mostly escape being the target of prejudice then turn around and practice the same kind of prejudice towards others.

Those who use being Catholic as an excuse to act prejudicial towards gays should exhibit a bit more genuine commitment to their religion (I don’t remember Jesus saying, “The haters shall inherit the Earth”) by listening to Pope Francis whose view on gays was to say, “Who am I to judge?”

On a day when some of these same homophobes who are marching in their “No Gays Need Apply” parades will be dressed in brightly colored clothes, descend on bars in droves getting drunk and hanging all over other men then possibly end up on their knees in a toilet stall, they are hardly in a position to judge others on their behavior as being socially undesirable.

Written by AdLib

My motto is, "It is better to have blogged and lost hours of your day, than never to have blogged at all."

42 Responses so far.

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  1. monicaangela says:

    I often wonder why it is so difficult for human beings to relate to other human beings. I find it strange that we as citizens dealing with this matter in our country haven’t requested changes to the constitution that would eliminate this sort of obvious prejudice, I like a quote I once read that goes as follows:

    “We cannot keep turning our backs on gay and lesbian Americans. I have fought too hard and too long against discrimination based on race and color not to stand up against discrimination based on sexual orientation.”
    ― John E Lewis

    We should all join Representative Lewis in that fight.

  2. Kalima says:

    Self Evident Truths

  3. AdLib says:

    I appreciate all of the thoughtful opinions expressed here on this topic. Religion, nationality and sexuality are about as personal topics as can be discussed. There are differences of opinion here but no difference in the degree of respect that’s expressed. That is very cool indeed.

  4. Hey Ad. As you know, my daughter is gay, and I love her more than anything.

    The organizers of these parades simply don’t want the parades to be a showcase for the gay rights movement, and I don’t blame them. It’s about, as you mentioned above, nationality and pride of heritage and a commemoration of the day Saint Patrick led the snakes out of Ireland.

    I don’t see this as homophobia, or hatred toward gay people. The parade is simply not about the gay rights movement.

    • pinkpantheroz says:

      KT, and Fergie1,

      Thank you for condensing my rambling thoughts into a coherent message!

      AdLib, It’s great that we can politely agree to disagree on a subject. wish more were here to share this amazing site.

    • AdLib says:

      Have to disagree with you KT, I do wish that was the case and if it was, I’d be right there with you.

      Check out the comment I made below to Fergie, it contains a history of the homophobia connected to both the NY and Boston parades. This is just a fall back position now by organizers who have been anti-gay in the past.

      • Ad, I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree on this one. The St. Patrick’s Day parades are NOT a showcase for the gay rights movement.

        I’ve been watching the nightly news from Boston, as I am on the cape now. They have said repeatedly that no gay people would be barred from participating in the parade, AS LONG AS they didn’t wave rainbow flags, or dress in drag and the rest of the stuff they do in gay pride parades. The parade has always been about Irish pride and nothing political.

    • Fergie1 says:

      KT, that is what I was trying to say, but you said it far more succinctly and I think got the point across much better than my effort.

  5. pinkpantheroz says:

    In a lighter vein, perhaps the Committee is trying to ‘Parade The Gay Away”! Oh, and by the way, my Gaydar is sure pinging on that leprechaun in your photo!

  6. Fergie1 says:

    Firstly indulge me by allowing me to say in no uncertain terms that I’m the furthest person from being a homophobe. I have loads of gay friends who have made my life richer in in so many ways by being some of the most wonderful friends one could ever have. If Nirek will allow me to use his excellent comment that : “I love them for who they are, not what they are.” And there lies the “two sides to every story” principle.

    But as I understand this from the organisers of the New York St Patrick’s Day parade, they allow anybody to walk in the parade, but they don’t allow them to carry individual banners. Inclusion, not exclusion should always be the accepted morality of any community. No one was saying that the LGBT community could not participate in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Wear a rainbow colored anything but don’t make it into a venue for Gay Pride. In my humble opinion Ad, this does not compare to the analogy of being aghast at a 4th of July Parade in the South that would restrict black people from openly marching in it due to bigotry. Sorry, that’s apples and oranges in my view.

    My family has experienced discrimination first hand in Ireland where businesses in Dublin had signs which said “no Catholics need apply”. Who would have thought that was possible in supposedly Catholic Ireland. I am abhorred by discrimination, believe me. But I also feel that in this instance it is either a St. Patrick’s Day Parade which is used to celebrate Ireland or just call it a Generic Parade where political agendas, PR marketing exercises, and anything else you want to throw in, is the order of the day.
    Oh and btw, I’m not what one would call a practising Catholic.

    • AdLib says:

      Fergie, exactly, the Irish are no strangers to being treated with prejudice and many relate very much with the struggles of others who have to deal with bigotry.

      At the same time, there is an unfortunate anti-gay history as a backdrop behind these parades. Though the NYC Parade may have evolved to the point where they universally restrict all marchers from expressing themselves other than as to their Irish nationality, it is a policy that came out of a much more hostile, homophobic starting place.

      When the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization (ILGO) asked to join the parade in late 1990, their request was denied, but the organizers insisted it had nothing to do with the belief that homosexuality and Irish Catholicism don’t mix. The Ancient Order of Hibernians, which has run the 252-year-old parade since about 1851, argued that it wouldn’t be fair to let gay groups march, claiming that 30 organizations were already waiting for admittance to an event that the city wanted to reduce in scale. But when the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization asked to see the waiting list, the organizers refused.

      Mayor David Dinkins stepped in and brokered a compromise: The 135 members of ILGO would be the guests of the Midtown chapter of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, and the mayor would march by their side. In return, the group would agree not to carry their own banner, and to abide by the parade rule banning marchers from wearing anything identifying themselves as a group. The New York Times headline declared, “Parade Furor Is Settled; Gay Group Will March.”

      Dinkins joined ILGO in the parade the next day, but the “furor” was just beginning. As shown in the disturbing video below, the group was booed throughout the parade, and at one point, two beer cans were thrown at the mayor. “It was like marching in Birmingham, Alabama” during the civil rights movement, Dinkins told the Times. “I knew there would be deep emotions, but I did not anticipate the cowards in the crowd.”


      The legal fight was resolved in 1995 when the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that parade organizers in Boston had the right to exclude homosexuals.


      When looking at the overall picture, of how the organizers originally lied to to prevent LGBT people from simply marching without any identifying banners or clothes to later giving in but subjecting them to nasty and abusive treatment then seeing the Boston organizers fighting and winning the right to bar LGBT solely because they are LGBT, one is hard pressed to view them at this point as having a mindset that is just pragmatic about keeping marchers from disrupting the theme of the parade.

      There is a history of homophobia here and IMO, what has happened in NY is that it has been submerged under this more palatable policy of restricting all people from representing who they are other than being Irish…which on its own is a fair policy to me. However, in Boston where organizers have fought for and retain the right to prevent LGBT members from marching in their parade solely because they are LGBT, the homophobia is front and center for all to see.

      • choicelady says:

        My stepdaughter’s husband is Irish. He is totally cool, but his Dad (Da?) is far more traditional. And yet -- and yet -- he and I had a very kind and warm hearted discussion about all this. He said the church needed to become far more engaged with inclusiveness. Now no one in that part of our complicated family IS gay, but to hear him be so thoughtful was a total joy.

        I don’t actually know what I think about the parades. IS it the right place for open demonstrations or is it NOT? I just waffle. As one who has engendered the wrath of the Christian right including the Catholics in CA over our strong support of LGBT rights, I ought to be better on this issue, but I’m not. Does a group of people celebrating ONE thing -- their heritage -- have the right to determine who gets to participate in the POLITICAL aspects of that celebration? I just can’t say.

        I know the LGBT activists with whom I work think this is not much of an issue one way or the other which I find very interesting, but then, we’re in CA, not in MA, and that may make a difference. It’s sort of not up to me but to them, and they don’t seem very interested.

        I remain confused.

      • Ad, a lot of attitudes have changed since the early 90s. Sure, there will always be “private citizen,” homophobes. Even the organizers this year expressly said they didn’t want the parades to be politicized. I think that applied to any other political activism as well.

  7. pinkpantheroz says:

    AdLib, I find myself a bit torn about this. Firstly, I’m Irish and hetero and am proud of both. I think I see where the organizing committee are coming from -- The St. Patrick’s day Parade is a celebration of our Irish heritage and Culture. It is open, as they say to all to participate. The one thing they baulk at is the Parade becoming yet another graphic display of Gay Pride. Now, I don’t have any problem whatever with Gay Pride, Mardi Gras or anything, but I do see their point about keeping the Parade about St. Patrick and Irish pride. ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ is not anything, I feel, that would justify the Beer Companies to withold sponsorship. I feel it was done for purely marketing reasons.
    Now, before you all hit the snarl button, I want you to know that I have, on many occasions, been subjected to both religous and ethnic discrimination both in Ireland and here in Australia. I know the feeling about being scorned and ostracised. So I sympathise with gays on that level, but I understand the Committees’ stand as well.
    I probably haven’t voiced this very well, and hope you get what I’m trying to say.

    • AdLib says:

      PPO -- I do absolutely understand your POV on this and my problem is less with the NYC parade than the Boston parade which explicitly restricted LGBT from participating in any case.

      Here’s an excerpt from an article about how the Boston Mayor tried to broker a deal to let LGBT folks simply march in the parade, not carrying banners or anything that identified them as gay yet the organizers would not agree:

      “The South Boston Allied War Veterans Council, which sponsors the parade, and MassEquality, the prominent gay-rights group, have been at odds over whether activists could march openly, a battle the veterans group has been fighting with various gay-rights activists for two decades.

      In seeking middle ground — including a since-abandoned plan to allow members of a gay rights group to march as long as they did not wear T-shirts or wave signs proclaiming their viewpoint — Walsh has operated more in a legislative style than an executive one.

      But Sunday, Walsh lamented the lack of a deal and the hypocrisy of the parade organizers’ continued anti-LGBT exclusion. “The St. Patrick’s Day parade was born out of the celebration of Evacuation Day, a day set aside to recognize and honor our military and those brave Americans who have banded together for the sake of freedom. And so much of our Irish history has been shaped by the fight against oppression,” he said.


      The organizers went to the Supreme Court and won a ruling to exclude LGBT people. This is not the action of people who merely want to prevent all people from carrying political signs.

      So while there is a sound and fair point to make that if a parade is about Irish heritage, the organizers have the right and are not being prejudicial to insist that no marchers carry political signs that disrupt the theme of the parade, I don’t think that’s what was going on in Boston.

      • Fergie1 says:

        Ad, absolutely so much of our Irish history HAS been shaped by the fight against oppression, but that is still not an argument to use the St. Patrick’s Day Parade to be used by every group as a venue to signify their stand on either sexual orientation, political views or whatever cause needs to be put on display -- by that I am referring to just causes. I am all for Gay Pride but not as a cause celebre in a St. Patrick’s Day Parade. How this issue is even a matter for the Supreme Court is beyond me. From one of your posts: “The legal fight was resolved in 1995 when the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that parade organizers in Boston had the right to exclude homosexuals.” Again I ask, how is anyone going to identify one’s sexual orientation unless it is overtly on display?

        I’m sure that many marchers are card carrying members of the NRA (bearing arms is also held up by the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution), but I for one don’t want to see a group of people with a banner taking pride in their right to bear arms in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
        You might find this analogy far fetched, but there are millions who believe they have a right to show their support for the NRA. I realize that I am using an analogy that has a high percent of violence to try and justify its existence, but it’s an example of what I am trying to say. Leave ALL issues out of a Parade to celebrate Irish Heritage!

        We will have to agree to disagree. And I don’t believe for one minute that the Mayors of NYC and Boston or Guiness made their stand out of principle -- it is all about votes and dollars. Who is even going to remember who did what a year from now?

        As KT said, it is simply not a venue for gay rights.

        • choicelady says:

          And for sure I don’t want the Celtic White Supremacists marching! That has become a real blot on the Celtic legacy IMHO. I suspect they also wanted to be present -- they have in the past -- and have been barred.

          I have NO idea what is the ‘correct’ call here. Both sides are strong. Both sides have their problems.

          NOT my call. I’m BARELY Irish anyway.

  8. Kalima says:

    So if you are gay you have no right to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in public?

    In a country where groundbreaking steps for gay equality and same sex marriage are making headlines around the world, this blatant contradiction of rights is mind boggling.

    Good for the mayor of NY and the Guinness company for pulling out of the parade and taking a stand. This is an embarrassment to the long tradition and those who made the decision should hang their heads in shame. If the reason as you say is because they are Catholic, then I hang my head in shame because for so many of us, this is not who we are, and they don’t speak for us.

    Great article and thanks for calling out the bigots and homophobs.

    • Fergie1 says:

      With respect Kalima, I don’t think that they are saying :” if you are gay you have no right to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in public?”

      You absolutley correct when you say that as a Catholic, this is not who we are and they don’t speak for us if that is the ludicrous and appalling reason they are using. That is not the view of this Catholic. (admittedly Idon’t agree with or practice many of the man made views of the religion that I identify with!).

      • Kalima says:

        Hello Fergie, nice to see you again, and I hope you are feeling better?

        I haven’t followed this story as closely as some but believe that banning the LGBT community because you presume they will do something to embarrass the parade is exactly like banning AA because you presume that they will carry guns and shoot someone. Therefore it’s a presumption that they will all be punished for collectively, and I believe it’s wrong and is indeed prejudice whether they realise it or not.

        As a 9 year old German girl being beaten up at a U.K. school and on the way home from school almost every week, I know at lot about discrimination and phobias too.

        • AdLib says:

          Kalima, the Boston parade explicitly prohibits marchers who are gay, whether or not they carry signs or wear anything signifying they are gay. In NYC, what was an openly hostile policy towards gays has evolved to restricting all marchers to how only gay marchers were restricted (all other groups marching were allowed to march behind banners announcing who they were but in 1991 in the NYC parade, gays had to march behind someone else’s banner or not march at all).

          What gets me is that this retrenchment by the NYC organizers has distracted people from viewing them for who they have been, people are unaware of their history of homophobia and are even viewing them as being treated unfairly.

          Eventually, I do expect the restrictions against LGBT to be lifted in the NY and Boston parades but perspective is important and seeing the big picture on how people have conducted themselves over the years is far more revealing about their true intent.

          • Kalima says:

            I trust your judgment on this AdLib and have known you long enough to know hat you never take on an issue unless you have the facts.

            My opinion is still that it is prejudice by a few calling the shots, and that it’s wrong.

          • Ad, That is simply not true. How would they even enforce such a restriction? Are they going to check out each individual and question them about their sexual orientation?

            • Fergie1 says:

              KT, those were my thoughts when reading Ad’s post as well. HOW is anyone going to idenify what sexual orientation anyone is and what, pull individuals out of the parade on a hunch?

            • Ad, I believe that you are correct about “groups.” The news was saying that gay people, as individuals were not prohibited from participating. My confusion was between the words “groups,” and “gay people.”

              I don’t know what other non-Irish groups were participating. I didn’t actually watch the parade itself.

            • AdLib says:

              KT -- The article I quoted from is for this year’s parade in Boston:

              In seeking middle ground — including a since-abandoned plan to allow members of a gay rights group to march as long as they did not wear T-shirts or wave signs proclaiming their viewpoint — Walsh has operated more in a legislative style than an executive one.

              But Sunday, Walsh lamented the lack of a deal and the hypocrisy of the parade organizers’ continued anti-LGBT exclusion.


              So the mayor tried to get the organizers to just let gay people march even without any banners or anything else designating that they were gay but the organizers wouldn’t agree to that.

              You asked before, how would they know they were gay. I think what the situation is that any group wanting to march as a group would identify itself to the organizers and that is when they were denied.

              No doubt that there were likely gay individuals marching among the crowd but any gay organizations seeking to march together, as other organizations could, even without banners or anything indicating they were gay, were denied.

            • Ad, I’m just going by what the Boston TV stations were saying about the parade. They clearly said that gay people were not banned from participating. They simply didn’t want any gay pride banners and stereotypical gay dress up. They announced this many times prior to the day of the parade.

              I think you may be referring to the past several years.

            • AdLib says:

              KT, I’ve provided links to stories, excerpts from them and quoted the Supreme Court ruling that is specifically on whether or not the organizers can refuse participation in their parade solely because someone is gay. The Boston organizers fought for the right to discriminate and won. Check out the case and ruling yourself and if I’m reading it wrong, I want to know.

        • Fergie1 says:

          Hi Kalima, always nice to see you and thank you for your good wishes on the health front. Nothing sorted on that yet. I don’t see the ortho guy again until the end of May and see what the outcome/decision is! Who knows -- I don’t think they do!!

          Re Ad’s article. I haven’t read a WHOLE lot about it either. Of course I heard from our friends in Ireland who sent us their lovely wishes for St. Patrick’s Day. They said that the Parade in Dublin was excellent and had become more sophisicated.

          Anyway, I wrote more of my thoughts above, so no point repeating (it’s not far to go back up :) ).

          I hope that you are keeping as well as possible yourself. I could be doing more to advance my cause -- like walking more!!

          • Kalima says:

            Fingers tighty crossed that this will all be over for you soon.

            I’m up and down so far this year, with the downs beating the ups, but life goes on and Spring is on the way so there is that to look forward to. Thanks for asking.

            Left a greeting for all of our Irish friends on MB on Sunday.

            Take care and feel better soon.

  9. kesmarn says:

    Well said, AdLib! As I was driving today I heard on NPR that the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Dublin does NOT prohibit gay individuals or groups from participating!

    Maybe the U.S. should take a clue from the “auld country” and lighten up a bit. After all St. Pat was only rumored to have a reluctance to being around snakes. I don’t think he ever mentioned word one about LGBT folks! 😀

    • AdLib says:

      Thanks Kes! Ireland has been going through a transition especially since same sex marriage was put on the table so it is very affirming to see Dublin having such an inclusive approach in their parade.

      As you say, if only America could take a cue from Ireland on this!

    • Het kes. Gay people weren’t restricted from participating. The ban was against any gay pride movement participation. They just didn’t want the St. Paddy’s day parade to turn into something that had no pertinence to Saint Patrick’s Day.

      The organizers didn’t want this to be politicized, that’s all. I don’t blame them for that.

  10. Nirek says:

    Ad, thanks for this article.
    I’m not gay but if I were I would be proud and want everyone to understand that being gay is just like being Irish (which I am). When the Mayor refused to march in a parade that excluded gays I thought , there is a man standing on his convictions!

    Let me say also that there are Irish folks who are also gay. They are not gay and not Irish. There are gays of every religion, race, nationality (even though some say they don’t have gays), and creed!

    Some of my best friends are gay. I love them for who they are not for what they are.

    • AdLib says:

      Nirek, that is a pretty effective point you make, there are many people who are gay and Irish, which is why some wanted to march in this parade to celebrate the common bond of their nationality.

      Does that it’s okay to insist they hide they’re gay if they’re Irish? Of course not.

      Equality is universal or it isn’t equality.

      • Fergie1 says:

        Ah now Ad! Hang on a minute. What does one’s sexual orientation have to do with being from any particular country?
        None of my LGBT friends think that it’s an appropriate venue to use for the issue of Gay Pride. So far I’ve asked 10 both men and women. I’ve know all since about the early 70’s in SFO and Australia. There have been a few emails flying back and forth!

        Discrimination is a serious issue but actually they all thought it was funny that it was an issue in this particular case. Over and out for me on this topic now.

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