Or, not everyone loves a parade.So I've been standing with Irish Queers for a good number of the eighteen years that they and ILGO (the Irish Lesbian & Gay Organization) have protested the NYC St. Patrick's Day Parade. Let me quickly answer the questions this automatically inspires:
1) No, queer Irish people can't march in the NYC St. Patrick's Day parade. They can march in Dublin, in Cork, and in Queens, but not New York. (Chris Quinn, the second most powerful politician in NYC can march with a group of politicians, but cannot identify herself as queer while doing so. She avoids the parade because it brings her worlds together in a way that just doesn't look good for the camera.)
2) Because I don't actually want to march. (Yeah, you guessed it, the question is "Why not go the Queens parade then, or 'your own' parade in the summer?") I don't actually want to march in the parade, but still bother to protest the fact that people can't because:
a) It is a parade thrown by the religious right. See the Ancient Order of Hibernians for more information.
b) City and state politicians march, pretending that it's not a bigoted, Catholic parade.
c) Police officers, fire fighters, and military personnel by the thousands are required to march in uniform, if they are not on duty, and get paid to do so.
d) All this means the city and state are endorsing the exclusive event. Either money or pleasing powerful people are motivators.
New Yorkers wouldn't let the same thing happen if people of color weren't allowed to participate, or people in wheelchairs.
Now, all this said, the St. Patrick's Day Parade is one of my least favorite events of the year. The city is also supporting a whole lot of public drunkenness, groping, and property destruction (for no reason beside drunkenness). It doesn't seem to be called out or punished like it does with the Puerto Rican Day Parade, because, shucks, these folks are so white and rosy cheeked.
When I lived in the city I made the dash to the demo, and then got the hell out of midtown as quickly as possible to not have to deal with one more drunk saying "Lighten up, it's St. Patty's Day!" Now that I live in the Hudson Valley, there's the added pleasure of the Metro North trip. A lot of Irish Americans live here, and that means a train ride of being touched way too much by (drunk) strangers, getting showered with beer regularly, being "treated" to bagpipe music being played in the closed train car, and ducking while things are thrown and the train is torn apart. At least it's a free ride, since no ticket-taker can get through.
I wonder which parade I hate more, St. Pat's, or the Israeli Day Parade. The Israeli Day Parade definitely hosts more outward hatred, hurled at anti-occupation demonstrators. The things said there can knock a person flat. When my friend's mother, holding a anti-occupation placard, identified herself as a Jew to someone screaming at her to "Go back to Jordan," they told her the wrong Jews had been killed in the war. (Of course, she had barely escaped being murdered in the holocaust.)
Then there's the rodeo parades of my youth, though these were mainly about fashion. The animal abuse was saved for the main event. If only all of these parades were really only about an opportunity to wear fancy hats and beaded belts...