Paddy Whacked

Posted by Censor Librorum on Mar 18, 2006 | Categories: Lesbian in a Catholic Sort of Way

Tip ‘o the cap to New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who did not march in yesterday’s St. Patrick’s Day parade. “I am, every day of the week, an Irish lesbian, so I can’t take part in that and put it on the shelf.” In typical Irish fashion, she had worked behind the scenes to pressure the parade organizers to allow ILGO (Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization) to march behind their own banner; or failing that, at least be able to march wearing pins, buttons or other identifiable symbols. She said she hoped to reach a middle ground, in which gay men and lesbians could take part in a “respectful and dignified fashion that allows them to be visible.” Even this was too much for John Dunleavy, who in typical Irish fashion went over the top by proclaiming: “If an Israeli group wants to march in New York, do you allow neo-Nazis in the parade? If African-Americans are marching in Harlem, do they have to let the Ku Klux Klan into their parade?” “People have rights,” Dunleavy added, “if we let them in, is it the Irish Prostitute Association next?” Of course, yesterday’s parade WAS peppered with Irish and Irish-American lesbians and gays. They marched, stood guard along the parade route, or watched from the sidewalks and steps of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. They included priests and nuns, teachers and social workers, government employees and students, police officers and union people, musicians and business owners, actors and writers, moms and dads, and yes, children who will grow up to be lesbian or gay. Unlike Christine Quinn, the marchers put it on the shelf for the day. They made the choice to march with their families, friends or coworkers to celebrate their Irish heritage, and go out and have a good time. Even if St. Patrick’s Day has now turned into National Get Drunk Day, what the hell, the Irish know how to party and have a grand time. We do. Yesterday’s St. Patrick’s Day was a great day for the Irish. The big fight between Quinn and Dunleavy got things rolling. There were lots of family and friends about, and introductions to new family and friends (“Where are your people from? Donegal. We’re from Tyrone. What’s your name? Doherty. Oh, yeah, my grandmother’s maiden name was Doherty! We’re cousins!”) The music, pageantry, and solidarity of the parade never fail to thrill and warm the heart. The inevitable drunks careen around, joined my many others, since “everyone is (an) Irish (drunk) on St. Patrick’s Day! Hurrah! This parade contingent is easily identifiable by the large, corny hats someone would have to be plastered to wear. Every St. Patrick’s Day I think of my father. He was very proud of his Irish Catholic heritage, and with his love of books, his blue eyes and green thumb passed that along to me. I can’t raise a glass to his memory any more, but I did look at heaven and smile.

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