02 March 2014

The Mayor Boycotts, But Do We Need To Be Included?

Today New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio marched in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

How can that be?, you ask.  St. Paddy’s Day is two weeks away and, didn’t he say he wasn’t going to march?  

He did indeed say he wouldn’t participate in the one that will proceed down Fifth Avenue in Manhattan on the 17th.  Also, the City Council won’t send its traditional contagion, although the Council speaker said individual members are free to participate as individual citizens, not as representatives of the Council.

But today there was an “inclusive” St. Patrick’s Day Parade that proceeds through such Queens neighborhoods as  Sunnyside and Woodside (traditional Irish enclaves) and neighboring Jackson Heights, which is said to contain the largest LGBT community outside of Chelsea.

There was also another parade in Staten Island today.  But the Mayor skipped that one because, unlike the one in Queens, it excludes openly LGBT marchers and groups.

While I applaud the Mayor’s and Council’s actions, I still have to wonder why, exactly, LGBT groups are so concerned with being part of a parade that, frankly, doesn’t show Irish culture and heritage, or this city, at its best.  I have gone to the parade several times, the last time eleven years ago.  I had just begun to take hormones then, so their effects weren’t visible to anyone who hadn’t seen me before I started to take them. In other words, I viewed the parade as someone who was, to all appearances (as if anyone noticed) a guy in his 40’s or thereabouts.  

To tell you the truth, the only person with whom I interacted in that sea of shelaleighs was a friend who knew about my transition.  I didn’t make any effort to start or maintain a conversation with anyone else; I don’t particularly enjoy parades or vast seas of humanity, so I wasn’t in a particularly festive mood.  

Someone might say I don’t appreciate the parade because I’m not Irish.  Perhaps that’s true.  But to me, the mass gathering seemed to be little more than an occasion for a lot of drinking and more than a little loutishness.  About the only time I responded to the parade itself was when the Fire Department’s contagion passed by:  It was only a year and half after 11 September 2001, so I shared reverence almost everyone else in the crowd expressed for the firefighters, who lost so many of their colleagues that day.

I think that LGBT groups—and we, as individuals—can direct our energies to much more important issues than whether a few groups with greatly exaggerated ideas (that, at times, border on unintentional parody) about their heritage will allow us to march in their parade.   

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