Letter: Discrimination in St. Patrick’s Day parade

ireland-flagI submitted this letter to the editor of the Boston Globe last week — I don’t think they published it — regarding this story, which has been brewing for quite some time.

It’s absurd in 2014 that the organizers of the Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade are still trying to block open LGBTQ participation. The day is an annual cultural and community tradition, and one certainly long-separated from any religious aspect. The parade aims to celebrate one of Boston’s communities – Irish-Americans – that, like every ethnic community, has LGBTQ members within it. The organizers are telling their own community that not everyone is welcome to be proud of their ethnic heritage. LGBTQ people have always been with us and aren’t going away. Every poll indicates that’s ok with about 9 in 10 Bay Staters. Rather than representing an integral part of Boston, the parade organizers have proven themselves deeply unrepresentative. (As an Irish-American, I certainly don’t feel represented by them.) Instead, they prattle on about “wrong messages” like it’s 1980. Get with the times. If you’re going to host a public parade on city streets, with city facilitation, then no discriminating against any of the city’s residents. The organizers should be ashamed of themselves.

While it’s perhaps not my primary self-identity, I am, in fact, old-school Irish-American. Pre-Potato Famine. My first Irish ancestor arrived during the American Revolution to help fight the British, who were still repressively occupying Ireland at the time. He fought in the Battle of Bennington in upstate New York. I don’t take kindly to people trying to suppress other people’s freedoms and identities, particularly when it’s coming from Irish-Americans, who’ve faced their share of terrible discrimination and should do better.