Mar 17, 2014

St. Patrick's Day Parade and the historical exclusion of the LGBTQ community

A parade permit was granted to non-Hibernians for the 1993 parade after the 1991 parade included Irish Lesian and Gay Organization (ILOG) marchers under the Unit #7 of the Ancient Order Hibernia (Manhattan unit traditionally organizes the parade and the inclusion was against Manhattan unit's wishes), and that unit was eventually reprimanded by the National Ancient Order Of Hibernia. 1992 AOH NYS organization was granted the permit, deceiving the Dinkins administration, and then was successfull in barring the ILGO from the parade. 1993 Mayor Dinkins created an alternative organization to grant St. Patrick's Parade permit, in response the AOH boycotted the parade as long as the parade would include ILGO or any other "sinful organization". AOH would have rather had no parade than a St. Patrick's parade with openly gay participants. The 2014 parade seems to continue with a few less sponsors, Heineken and Guinness dropped their involvement while under pressure to be seen as supportive of homophobic organization such as Ancient Order of Hibernia(AOH).

The 23 year old battle between ILGO and the AOH keeps returning to the central fact whether or not LGBTQ Irish and LGBTQ Irish-Americans should be considered equal in the eyes of AOH, just as they are equal in the eyes of our creator.When this issue first flared up Mayor David Dinkins took the side of the ILGO, whom he marched with under the banner of AOH Unit #7, and described the vitriol that he experienced on the parade route (including half empty beer cans thrown at him during the parade) as:
"It was like marching in Birmingham, Alabama" during the civil rights movement, he said. "I knew there would be deep emotions, but I did not anticipate the cowards in the crowd."
Certainly the AOH that would decry the celebrations of the medieval Battle of Boyne as hateful and exclusionary towards Catholics like themselves, but couldn't fathom why excluding fellow Irish-Catholic LGBTQ community members from an Irish-Catholic celebration. Often cited are passages from Leviticus and Romans from the Bible as rationale to excluding non-heterosexuals from an ethnic pride parade with only a passing reference to the Roman Catholic Church (because on St. Patty's Day everyone's Irish, but no one refers to anyone's theological affiliation), but the Bible and the especially the Gospels give far greater rationale for inclusion no matter whom seeks out to be included. Whether or not believers or non-believers, whether or not Irish or not, whether they are heterosexual or not-- whomever wants to march should march in the St. Patrick's Day parade and the organizers choice to treat the least of their brothers is contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ.

What would be best for both sides would be AOH seeking out or cultivating a LGBTQ chapter that would be welcomed into the 5th Avenue parade. While continuing to bar ILGO from the parade but having LGBTQ community represented would defuse nearly all reasonable criticism and would provide cover for politicians and PR-aware corporate sponsors to return the fold of the 5th avenue parade.