I’m not quite sure I understand the whole controversy about openly gay persons marching in a St. Patrick’s Day parade. The parade is just a celebration of heritage and the Irish are just as diverse as any other group. Boston’s old Mayor, Tom Menino, simply didn’t march in the South Boston parade because of the restriction, upheld by a Supreme Court decision, that the parade organizers could choose who they wanted to march. But new Boston Mayor Marty Walsh is, along with U. S. Representative Stephen Lynch, doing his best to broker a compromise that would allow Mass Equality to march with a banner. I think the parade organizers that include a fellow called Wacko Hurley fear that their parade would turn into another gay pride march if they let any LGBT groups march. Presumably, the LGBT community knows the difference: March is not June. Plus, there is a picture from the 1992 parade, pre-Supreme Court decision, that shows there is nothing to fear.
The parade is only a couple of days away, and Mayor Walsh is making one last try. Most Boston and Massachusetts state-wide elected officials have already announced they are not going to march. I think the only exception is Nick Collins, the State Representative from South Boston.
So Marty Walsh, God love ’im, is going to make one last-ditch effort to hammer out a compromise so gay people can march openly in Sunday’s parade in Southie.
As they say in the Irish-speaking Gaeltacht, from where Marty’s parents are from, “Beir bua agus beannacht.” Look it up.
Down here in New York, where its St. Patrick’s Day parade is older than the Declaration of Independence and lasts anywhere from six to seven hours, there’s the same standoff, with organizers refusing to let gay people march with banners that identify themselves as gay.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, as the Irish say, couldn’t be arsed when it comes to forging compromise. He boycotted the parade when he was the city’s public advocate. He’s not going to start marching now.
De Blasio’s predecessor, Michael Bloomberg, of the Medford [MA] Bloombergs, marched in the parade but de Blasio is about as different from Bloomberg as the Irish are from Irish-Americans.
De Blasio, who grew up in Cambridge, is married to a black woman and has biracial kids, so he’s not really into exclusion. But neither is he into cozying up to the New York Irish, who were in the corner of de Blasio’s primary opponent, Christine Quinn, who was the city council president.
The irony in this — and it wouldn’t be Irish if there weren’t irony — is that Quinn is openly gay. Which means, even when she led the city council delegation in the parade she wasn’t allowed to identify herself as being gay.
So the New York Irish wanted to elect an openly gay mayor but wouldn’t let her march in the parade as openly gay.
And people in New York think we’re nuts?
Mayor Walsh, on the other hand, had support from both the gay community and South Boston so he’s kinda caught in the middle. But he has said that if he can’t work a compromise, he won’t march.
Boston also has this breakfast before the parade. Politicians come and roast each other and try to sing Irish songs. Last May I wrote about South Boston and the election of Linda Dorcena Forry. I predicted that she would bring some life back to the St. Patrick’s Day Breakfast. Dorcena Forry is Hatian American married to an Irish man. The City Councilor from South Boston tried to wrest control, but tradition prevailed: The State Senator who represents Southie hosts the breakfast. So Bill Linehan is taking his ball and going to Ireland for the day. I hope he realizes that this will make him the butt of a lot of jokes. Whatever.Linda is doing her best to live up to my prediction. First she announced that the Dropkick Murphy’s, Boston’s very popular Irish punk group, would perform. Then the Boston Globe had news today of her most recent announcement about the breakfast.
State Senator Linda Dorcena Forry’s groundbreaking debut as the first woman, first Haitian-American, and first Dorchester resident to host the storied St. Patrick’s Day breakfast on Sunday is apparently drawing some international attention.
Dorcena Forry announced Thursday that Enda Kenny — Ireland’s prime minister, or taoiseach — has agreed to attend the ribald political roast in South Boston.
The visit by a sitting head of state is a coup for Dorcena Forry, who promised to raise the profile of a breakfast that in recent years seemed to have lost some of its star power.
“I am honored that Taoiseach Kenny will join us for this year’s breakfast,” Dorcena Forry said. “I have had the pleasure of meeting the taoiseach during his previous visits to Boston. His attendance at the breakfast is a wonderful affirmation of the deep bonds of friendship between Boston and Ireland.”
No word on whether President Obama will be appearing either on tape or by live feed, but I wouldn’t be surprised. The Prime Minister is not marching in the parade.
The times are rapidly changing. Boston Beer Company (think Sam Adams) just announced they have pulled their parade sponsorship. Wacko and his veterans group are doing a great job of killing the parade. Meanwhile, the breakfast thrives. Is there a lesson here?
Photograph of GLIB marching: Marilyn Humphries