St. Pat’s Inclusion At Last

John Francis Mulligan welcomes progress on LGBT inclusion in New York's Patrick's Day parade.. John Francis Mulligan is a member of Irish Queers.

New York City Saint Patrick’s Day Parade (Photo public domain)

I am really happy that the first Irish LGBT group will be marching with a banner in this year’s NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

In the spirit of change and progress some keep talking about, practically screeching about, “moving forward,” “celebrating unity” and not identifying how this change came about.

But this lockstep “moving forward” is like reconciliation without the truth part. It erases history. It erases the power of people to create change collectively. It diminishes the history of the courage and grit of people that push back, stand up and speak out. Even when it has affected us by losing our families, safety, housing, jobs and friendships.

The history of the anti-gay NYC St. Patrick’s Day parade is important. This bigotry was a coagulation of very powerful forces: the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, the Police Department, the mayor’s office, the courts and the religious right.

A few factors that immediately come to mind that I want to note:

• The Parade Committee saying there was a waiting list to join the parade and the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization would have to wait our turn. Then, during litigation, the Parade Committee having to admit they lied: there was no list and we certainly weren’t on it.

• The Parade Committee and Cardinal O’Connor saying there was absolutely no communication between them about allowing a gay group in. I remember the documents, that were turned over in discovery, during litigation by the Parade Committee that included a fax between the Parade Committee and Cardinal O’Connor. Again: they lied, they were powerful and they got away with it.

• Mayor Giuliani on the city’s website celebrating the arrest of those trying to protest our exclusion (hours before the parade) as a quality of life achievement.

• The NYPD Emerald Society, a fraternal organization of Irish-American police officers, approving a resolution seeking the exclusion of ILGO and any other ‘homosexual and alternative lifestyle’ groups from the St Patrick’s parade.

I remember asking for a meeting with Hillary Clinton in 2000 as she was running to become a senator in New York to discuss this issue. Not being granted a meeting with her, a few of us from ILGO met with her then staff member, Bill de Blasio. Clinton broke the boycott to participate in a parade of hate, rather than stand with and support members of the LGBT community.

There are many answers to why this change has come. In reality it is probably a combination of things. But let’s talk about it, hear people take responsibility and not back away or silence these narratives. We can’t celebrate Judeo-Christian values when that is the same trope that tried to prevent us from being Irish and queer and is the same club being used to batter our LGBT community in Uganda and Jamaica. And let’s celebrate the tactic of boycott that prevented elected officials and multi-national corporations from continuing the financial support of the Fifth Avenue parade.

Some of the many Irish values I cherish are to be contrary, to stand up for what is right, and to not be afraid when everyone else is walking down the road to stop and walk the other way.

Lives are long, change is created, leadership changes, power is disrupted.

It may have taken us 25 years of struggle to walk up Fifth Avenue on St. Patrick’s Day but we prevailed. Let’s celebrate, give fair dues, remember the history and continue the work.


  1. More politically correctness bollicks. Why are the LBGT*ers being allowed to hijack a day where everyone celebrates all things Irish.

    What the fcuk has Paddy's day got to do with being LBGT.. Can't they simply put aside their differences with the world and simply be green and not pink for one day?

  2. Larrys vision of a flotilla of 'blowjobbing and buttfucking leprachauns' moves a step closer! I cant wait.

  3. "Why are the LGBTers being allowed to hijack a day everyone celebrates all things Irish" sounds like crazy paranoia and victim talk and based on misinformation.
    There are over 300 separate groups that march with their own banner in the NYC parade, which multi-identifies their Irishness. Are you asserting that no group should have a banner? Or a nuanced only 32 banners (representing each county perhaps)? Or what it sound like, is you just have an issue with and Irish and Gay banner, and that my friend is: bigotry.
    John Francis.

  4. "There are over 300 separate groups that march with their own banner in the NYC parade, which multi-identifies their Irishness."

    Exactly, for example if they are gay NYPD-er's, bakers or plumbers, then why for one day can't they march under 'that' banner...?

    "Are you asserting that no group should have a banner? "

    Would it kill them (LBGT-ers) to to green for one day and not pink?????

    "Or what it sound like, is you just have an issue with and Irish and Gay banner, and that my friend is: bigotry. "

    So I am a bigot. Unknown, the 17th March is a day for being Irish..simply that. What the LGBT are doing is hijacking a day when all Irish people put aside their differences and go green for 24 hrs...

    The pink brigade have their own day to celebrate their sexual orientation.. Explain to me why they got allowed to hijack Paddy's day.. Do you think me as a hetro male would be allowed to hijack their day for my own agenda?

  5. This is in response to Frankie's comments.
    Sounds like you are trying to play two sides here. If the facts are that over 300 groups get to assert their multi-identified selves, with banners, as Irish and something else, AND the only problem you have is with a groups that asserts an Irish and gay identity that is, bigotry.

    What about all the groups that aren't even Irish in the Parade? Do they get to celebrate Irishness?

    I am Irish AND a gay man. I don't unpack those for one day. I don't closet either side of my identity. And Irish people don't put aside their differences on the 17th of March, otherwise Irish Republicans wouldn't be allowed to march with banners....

    And as to your last question: there are loads of straight participants in gay pride marches from New York to Derry, and Brisbane to Dublin. After all gay people have family members that aren't gay. As long as you would want to celebrate LGBT pride you would be welcome.
    John Francis

  6. "Sounds like you are trying to play two sides here. "

    I am not playing different cheeks of the same arse John. Not by any stretch of the imagination. The piece is about the LBGT-ers championing the pink brigade on a day when everyone Irish should be celebrating that very simple fact..

    And yep you are correct it pisses the 32A's of me that other groups attach their agendas to the 17th March celebrations.. Whats wrong with asking people to put asside their raison d'etre and be simply green and Irish for 24 hours..

    John your sexuality means nothing to me. I couldn't care less if you were hetro, gay or other.. Lets get real for thirty seconds..

    "As long as you would want to celebrate LGBT pride you would be welcome. "

    So if I went to the pink parade with a t shirt saying " I am hetro and proud and I have gay friends..." What do you think would happen?... my guess is some big butch man in drag or leather wolud slap me with their handbag or kick the shit out of me...Before you ask yes i know loads from the LBGT pissed with several, at one stage employed a few and today my boss is a girly lebi friend... (no I don't do PC talk...)

    "I am Irish AND a gay man. I don't unpack those for one day. "

    I hope you don't hide your gayness. I wouldn't expect you to. But would it kill the people in the LBGT community to put away their rainbow colours and simply be green for a day?

    Here is a Q John... Why don't the LBGT-ers who are from the PUL community dress in drag to the field on the 12th July? My guess is they want to be orange for one day of the year and not pink...............