|Like Black Church, St. Patrick's Day parades are anti-gay|
Irish and African-American lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) communities share a lot in common when it comes to being excluded from iconic institutions in their communities.
For LGBTQ African Americans, it's the Black Church, and for LGBTQ Irish, it's the St. Patrick's Day Parade.
St. Patrick's Day has rolled around again, and like previous March 17th celebrations nationwide, its LGBTQ communities are not invited. As a contentious and protracted argument for now over two decades, parade officials have a difficult time grasping the notion that being Irish and gay is also part of their heritage.
Unlike the Black Church, however, that has and continues to throw the Bible at its LGBTQ community to justify their exclusionary practices, the St. Patrick's Day parade committee uses the First Amendment, debating that they are constitutionally guaranteed freedoms of religion, speech and association, and the tenet separating church and state.
Whereas most cities and states are not gay-friendly, Boston is known to be. But to the surprised of its LGBTQ denizens, Boston's St. Patrick's Day parades have no gay revelers marching, too.
In 1994 Boston's St. Patrick's Day parade was cancelled over this issue. The state's highest court ruled that the parade organizers could not ban LGBTQ Irish-Americans from marching. But in a counter lawsuit, parade officials won, accusing LGBTQ Irish-Americans of violating their rights to free speech under the First Amendment.
Heterosexual Irish-Americans discriminating against their LGBTQ communities is so reminiscent, to me, of how straight African Americans discriminate against their queer communities, with both forgetting their similar struggles for acceptance.
In the not so distant past, Irish Americans were scoff at for showing their Irish pride, and they were discriminated against for being both Catholic and ethnically Irish. As they immigrated to these shores tension rose. By the mid-19th century anti-Irish bigotry was blatantly showcased throughout our cities as businesses put up placards saying: “No Irish Need Apply." In 1900's in New York City, for example, newsboys, found on every corner or on a regular newspaper route, were often children of immigrants, and fought fiercely with each other for these jobs. Italian and Jewish immigrant kids would mock Irish boys screaming, "No Irish need apply." And the song ""No Irish Need Apply" captured the daily hardship Irish Americans confronted looking for work:
"I'm a decent boy just landed
From the town of Ballyfad;
I want a situation, yes,
And want it very bad.
I have seen employment advertised,
"It's just the thing," says I,
"But the dirty spalpeen ended with
'No Irish Need Apply.' "