By: Nicole Lashomb*/Editor-in-Chief—
Identity. We all have many. However, to a select few, you can only have one—to be Irish, at least if you are a member of the LGBT community in the streets of South Boston on St. Patrick’s Day.
Gay and Irish, that’s fine. Just make sure you don’t wave a rainbow flag or use the words, gay, LGBT, or any other terminology to let on that that may be the case, at least according to the traditional St. Patrick’s Day parade officials at the time of publication. I am hopeful that will not continue to be the case. After a decade- long tradition of banning gay groups from marching in the parade with regulations stipulated by the Allied War Veterans Council, for the first time this year, negotiations are underway to resolve and eradicate this long history of exclusion.
In a city that boasts many liberal ideologies and progressive advancements, a city that has pioneered civil rights, a city that proudly inscribes the route of the freedom trail along its streets, and a city that displays dedicated monuments in honor to the Irish settlers, this pervasive and ongoing homophobic mentality leaves me baffled. As an ethnic group in a country rampant with discrimination against early settlers by the inhabitants of this not-so-welcoming homeland that once viewed the Irish as outsiders, one would think there would be a greater sense of understanding. Unfortunately, that has not been the case and it appears that the organizers of the traditional parade have forgotten their troubled past. It was not uncommon to see signs displayed in storefronts such as “Irish Need Not Apply.” Yet, that is exactly what parade officials are doing to the LGBT community. Gays Need Not Apply. [pullquote]In a city that boasts many liberal ideologies and progressive advancements, a city that has pioneered civil rights, a city that proudly inscribes the route of the freedom trail along its streets, and a city that displays dedicated monuments in honor to the Irish settlers, this pervasive and ongoing homophobic mentality leaves me baffled. [/pullquote]
Currently, Mayor Walsh and others are attempting to negotiate an agreement with St. Patrick’s Day parade organizers which would allow openly LGBT groups to participate in this long-standing tradition. It is yet to be determined whether these negotiations will be in vain or if real strides will be made. When we celebrate the identities of us all, out and proud, our community becomes stronger and our streets become safer. I am hopeful.
From one settler to another, as we all are, Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
*Nicole Lashomb is the editor-in-chief and co-founder of The Rainbow Times. She holds an MBA from Marylhurst University and a Bachelor’s from SUNY Potsdam. To reach her, send your thoughts, and feedback to: firstname.lastname@example.org.