Southie’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade: Inclusion or Aversion?

nicole lashombNicole Lashomb, Editor-in-Chief of The Rainbow Times
Photo. TRT Archives
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Nicole Lashomb, Editor-in-Chief of The Rainbow Times  Photo. TRT Archives

Nicole Lashomb, Editor-in-Chief of The Rainbow Times
Photo. TRT Archives

By: Nicole Lashomb*/Editor-in-Chief

For the first time in the history of South Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, its organizers, the Allied War Veterans Council (AWVC), approved participation of OUTVETS, a military group honoring LGBT veterans in a 5-4 vote.

Traditionally, the AWVC has had a long history of excluding all LGBT groups and organizations from openly participating. Although OUTVETS’ “approval” is a step in the right direction, the AWVC’s discriminatory practices are long from being over and inclusive. Like many other LGBT business and organizations, The Rainbow Times applied to participate in this year’s South Boston’s Parade. Despite multiple attempts to contact the organization regarding the status of our application, our efforts have been in vain and the AWVC has been silent, as they often are on this issue.

Although the single victory of OUTVETS is a feat, the AWVC has a long way to go before their parade is decisively inclusive and affirming of the LGBT community. Accepting one group that represents LGBT veterans does not indicate inclusivity. Until all LGBT organizations and community members are welcomed to openly participate in Southie’s parade by the AWVC, there is not actual inclusion. Anciently-dated policies, permitting the group to openly discriminate against the LGBT community, are unacceptable and heinous. [pullquote]Like many other LGBT business and organizations, The Rainbow Times applied to participate in this year’s South Boston’s Parade. Despite multiple attempts to contact the organization regarding the status of our application, our efforts have been in vain and the AWVC has been silent, as they often are on this issue.[/pullquote]

Currently, the AWVC seems to be motivated by a “token-like” relationship between one LGBT military group and parade organizers who apparently have set out to “prove” its evolution in the face of adversity. Allowing one LGBT group to march is a far cry from inclusivity. What about the rest of us?

As reported in the Boston Globe, “the parade became a battleground for the gay rights movement in 1992, when parade organizers rejected an application to march from the Irish-American Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Group of Boston. The fight landed in the U.S. Supreme Court, which handed down a unanimous ruling that said the march was a privately organized event protected by the First Amendment right to freedom of speech. Organizers had the right to include—or reject—any group they wanted.”

However, the AWVC is not the only group gaining local and national headlines. According to an exclusive story found on page 3 of this publication, “the local Veterans for Peace Chapter 9, Smedley D. Butler Brigade (VFP) filed a First Amendment lawsuit in federal court against the City of Boston.” The organization claims that the “city has refused to act in a timely way on VFP’s application for a permit to hold its annual St. Patrick’s Peace Parade beginning at noon in Boston on March 15. The delay prevents VFP from being able to effectively organize for its parade and impedes its message.” [pullquote]Per the AWVC, inclusivity should not be used as a political tool to argue progress, especially when that faux progress is not inclusive. Although the stamp of approval for OUTVETS is unprecedented, AWVC’s homophobic ban on the broader LGBT community is historically etched in stone. This battle will not be over until no one is left behind.[/pullquote]

Per the AWVC, inclusivity should not be used as a political tool to argue progress, especially when that faux progress is not inclusive. Although the stamp of approval for OUTVETS is unprecedented, AWVC’s homophobic ban on the broader LGBT community is historically etched in stone. This battle will not be over until no one is left behind.

*Nicole Lashomb holds an MBA from Marylhurst University & a Bachelor’s from SUNY Potsdam. Contact her at:  editor@therainbowtimesmass.com.

[To read a copy of The Rainbow Times’ March, 2015 issue in .pdf click here; via ISSUU, click here.]