By: Nicole Lashomb*/Editor-in-Chief–
Today, I had the privilege of lining up in my first St. Patrick’s Peace Parade, which started one mile behind the traditional parade since we are regularly banned from participating in the “traditional” yearly festivities. Yes, banned, as were all LGBTA groups and veterans.
After having decorated our SUV with The Rainbow Times’ banners on the sides and front of the auto, I anxiously awaited our parade, the inclusive people’s parade to begin. And so it did.
The spirit of the members participating in the peace parade was palpable, commendable and invigorating. I hold the parade organizers to such high esteem for their hard work, relentless passion and dedication to the LGBT and veteran communities. We are all in this together.
However, I was dismayed that similar sentiments did not extend to all members of the crowd. As our car passed by thousands of people on the streets of South Boston, I was appalled to hear people calling out “faggot” or pointing their fingers at our contingency and laughing in jest or pretending to be gay themselves as a practical joke for a photo op. It was the first time in Boston that I have ever experienced such ignorance, and mean-spirited bigotry.
Continuing along the route, I yelled, “Happy St. Patrick’s Day” out the window to various onlookers and was often met with blatant looks of being shunned with utter disgust. Some people looked at me square in the eye and shook their head in an attempt to somehow shame me. It was unfathomable that a group of people whose ancestors were segregated along the streets of Boston by signs such as “Irish need not apply” could morph into the same perpetrators decades later. Did they all forget their roots? So there I sat, dumbfounded at the bigotry and pervasive ignorance surrounding what should be a healthy celebration of Irish roots, obstacles overcome, and community support and recognition. Although, if the “traditional” parade powers that be do not allow LGBT and veteran groups to participate in the main parade, that same bigoted viewpoint would be reflective in some of its supporters. It makes sense.
Thankfully, as the parade progressed, there were certainly many attendees who were positively cheering on our behalf. After all, many of us are also Irish and gay or veterans. Unfortunately, there were many more that seemed to mock the efforts of our LGBT and allied groups and our Veterans. I am humbly reminded about how much work we have to do as a whole to truly attain equal treatment. It is not only about the laws that protect us but about transcending acceptance along the homophobic streets of South Boston. Today was not one of Boston’s finest moments. And, I still sit here at my desk in disbelief. The fight goes on.
*Nicole Lashomb is TRT’s Editor-in-Chief. She holds an MBA from Marylhurst University and a Bachelors from SUNY Potsdam. Contact her at:firstname.lastname@example.org.