The New York Times reported today that the morons in charge of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Staten Island are continuing to ban LGBTQ+ groups from marching in the parade and celebrating their identity as queer and Irish-American (or just Irish). Or queer and Catholic.
According to the Times, Larry Cummings, the bigoted president of the Staten Island St. Patrick’s Day parade committee, stated, “Our parade is for Irish heritage and culture. It is not a political or sexual identification parade.” He later said, “Here’s the deal, it’s a nonsexual identification parade and that’s that. No, they are not marching. Don’t try to keep asking a million friggin’ questions, OK?”
Cummings’s statements are total bullshit, though, because by banning displays of LGBTQ+ identity, he IS politicizing the event, and he IS making it a sexual display–heterosexual only. His remarks are naive at best, and pathetically disingenuous at worst. Fuck this guy.
Some Catholic officials have distanced themselves from the event, claiming that the the parade doesn’t represent the Catholic church. Good for them for not being overt bigots. But the official policy of the Catholic church continues to be to refuse to perform or recognize same-sex marriages. So, therefore, zero points given to Pope Francis for his “Who am I to judge?” remark. In fact, no points will be given until Pope Francis stands up in public–I’d prefer it to happen on Easter Sunday–and declare that God loves gays (why else would He keep making them?).
To imply, as the organizers of this parade are doing, that it is celebrating Irish culture WHILE refusing to recognize LGBTQ+ individuals AS SUCH shows a disgusting disregard for the heritage these idiots claim to be celebrating. Ireland in 2020 is not the Ireland of Archbishop John Charles McQuaid and Éamon de Valera. To the contrary, Ireland legalized same-sex marriage through a referendum in 2015. It’s out-going taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, is an openly gay Irish man. As a whole, Ireland welcomes the queer community–policies of the dumbass Catholic church aside.
This kind of attitude, as perpetuated by Larry Cummings, is the same attitude that keeps religious animosity endemic in certain elements of Irish and Irish-American society. “Irish” and “Catholic” are not synonymous. There are Irish Protestants and Irish Jews and Irish Muslims. You can be queer and be Irish; you can be hetero and be Irish. In my considerable experience living in Belfast and Dublin, as well as earning a PhD in Irish history, I can testify that Ireland has changed a lot–it is a society that values liberal individualism, and it is open to all kinds of people.
This representation of “Irish” heritage that we will see on Staten Island is an archaic manifestation of de Valera’s “comely maidens” bullshit. In fact, I would argue that de Valera’s narrow-minded idealistic view of Ireland never did exist. Statistics on sexual activity and pregnancy outside of marriage bear this out, among many other trends.
Staten Island’s Paddy’s Day parade, and Larry Cummings in particular, need to cop the fuck on. Let the LGBTQ+ community represent their Irish heritage AND their queerness in the parade.