Alex Blaze

Irish Foreign Minister Supports Gays at St. Patrick's Day Parades

Filed By Alex Blaze | March 17, 2011 6:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: ireland, LGBT, parade, st. patricks day

The process to ban gay and lesbian people from marching under their own banners at St. Patrick's Day parades back in the mid-90's is my first st-patricks-parade.jpgmemory of gay news ever being discussed on TV in my house growing up. But it's good that someone in a position of influence is trying to change the parade's policy:

New Irish Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore has criticized New York St.Patrick's parade organizers for excluding Gays

"What these parades are about is a celebration of Ireland and Irishness. I think they need to celebrate Ireland as it is, not as people imagine it. Equality is very much the center of who we are in our identity in Ireland."

"This issue of exclusion is not Irish, let's be clear about it. Exclusion is not an Irish thing..... I think that's the message that needs to be driven home."

I've been to Ireland a few times and it was plenty gay friendly; one of the best gay bars I ever went to was in The George in Dublin. Gays and lesbians have floats in St. Patrick's Day events in Ireland, and in 2009 the gay float won "Best in Show" in Dublin's parade.

Ireland is still a majority-Catholic country, though religiosity is declining, but even people who describe themselves as religious are changing attitudes on social issues. Sometimes social change isn't easily predicted by easily identifiable characteristics and comes from more disperse sources in a culture.

link via Kathy Padilla, img via flickr

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I've been in two Irish bars run by Irishmen... Gay Irishmen! Seriously the howling in the US over Gays and Lesibans being in St. Patricks day parades has always made me wonder about who's yelling the loudest... and why. I honestly think that those who yell the loudest hide in the deepest closets.

You might be interested that Suzy Byrne, a leading Irish blogger (who is a lesbian) has been commenting on Gilmore's remarks and also that he still attended the parade as a guest of honour.

I was just going to point out that he still attended the discriminatory march. So much for words; action said different.

"Exclusion is not an Irish thing." Really? As an American who lived in Ireland for three years, I beg to differ. The Irish are the most openly racist, homophobic and xenophobic people I've ever encountered, and I'm from Texas, of all places. It drives me crazy when people use Dublin as an example of the whole country. Yes, a quarter of the county's population lives in Dublin, but it certainly is not representative of life in other parts of the country.
I'll never forget walking down the street with my friend, a dentist from Botswana, when a passerby told her, "go back to Africa." Nor will I forget the many times walking with an American-born Indian medical student that I heard young people calling him "Packy", "majarajah" or mooning him.
After my second year in Cork, a rainbow flag was hung out a window of a new center that had just opened up on one of the main streets. Other than the whispers I had heard at work about our closely closeted manager, this was the first sign that I had seen that even acknowledged that gay people existed outside of Dublin.
I left nine years ago, and maybe things have changed. I can only hope so.

Stephen Murray | March 18, 2011 4:51 PM

I didn't find Ireland homophobic. I was at a gay pride parade in Limerick - a small city in the west of Ireland last year which was very popular. Limerick is the town where Angela's Ashes was set. And Senator David Norris (who's gay) has just announced his candidacy to be the next President. Civil partnerships are legal and a recent survey suggested that 67% of Irish people support marriage equality. Ireland is very gay friendly. I suspect many people in rural areas remain closeted, out of habit rather than any danger to themselves.

Thanks for your comment. You mentioned Limerick. It led me back to another "Maman Poulet" link.

Jim was my father's cousin. Kemmy did quite a bit for Limerick, if you take the time to check the record. I have second hand stories that have caused me to speculate what would have caused him to stand up to the Catholic Church, which he did. Limerick has a reputation as a very gritty place. I could go on quite a bit about this. Kemmy was a remarkable person. I hardly knew he even existed, even though his brother stayed with us when we were young, until a cousin told me a story of how a great aunt had to leave for Ireland to rescue her youngest sister, who had become pregnant, from a convent. She was the only one of fifteen who had been left behind. The others all had emigrated. My father had over one hundred first cousins. I have around seventy.

All of my stories are long ones. I'll cut this one short and say my father was no where nearly as enlightened as Kemmy. I had a very hard time. If Limerick treats its gay and lesbian constituency well, I would say it probably had something to do with Kemmy and people like Frank McCourt, who were friends and mutual admirers.