Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone! You know, one of my first LGBT direct actions that I can remember hearing about growing up was over the New York City St. Patrick's Day parade. The parade organizers (otherwise known as the bigoted-Irish group, the Ancient Order of Hibernians) refused to allow a local LGBT group of Irish-Americans to participate in the parade.
Sadly, the situation has not gotten any better. After 15 years, the group still refuses to recognize diversity.
This year, as always, the organizers of the parade have refused to allow the city's Irish LGBT folk to participate by marching in the parade. Every year there are compromises offered - and rejected. This year, New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has tried to negotiate something that would allow LGBT Irish-Americans to march with the other city councilors. Unfortunately, she got nowhere. Quinn, though, is refusing to march in the parade - unlike Hillary Clinton - stating that until the AOH stops discriminating, she won't be able to participate.
Quinn had told The New York Times earlier this week that she was willing to march if gay and lesbian participants, wearing sashes and buttons identifying themselves as queer--though not carrying any banner as other groups are permitted to do--were invited to join her and the remainder of the City Council delegation. That position--falling short of the long-standing demand by activists that unfettered participation be allowed--was similar to what occurred when gay marchers joined Mayor David Dinkins in 1991, though that approach was not met with approval by the parade organizers. The mayor's contingent was met with boos and even some beer bottles thrown at them.
Of Quinn's proposed compromise, Dunleavy [AOH parade organizer] was quoted as saying, "That would take away from the whole spirit of the parade, let me tell you."
He went on to ratchet up the rhetoric, saying, "If an Israeli group wants to march in New York, do you allow neo-Nazis into their parade?" the Irish Times reported. "If African Americans are marching in Harlem, do they have to allow the Ku Klux Klan into their parade? People have rights. If we let the ILGO [the defunct Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization] in, is it the Irish Prostitute Association next?"