March 6, 2008

To the Editor:

The New York St. Patrick's Day still excludes queers – and in fact, the organizers say that the message of their parade is explicitly anti-gay, and religious (“Luck's Forever Dublin,” by Winnie McCroy, Mar. 6-12). In spite of the city's anti-discrimination laws, uniformed police, firefighters, and other city officials march under this message. By contrast, the St. Pat's for All parade March 2 in Queens was a safe space for celebration of LGBT people's important place in Irish communities.

There, just about everyone who was asked signed pledge cards affirming their boycott of the Fifth Avenue parade. Signers included Irish and Irish-American community activists, labor leaders, and some elected officials, as well as LGBT people of every stripe.

But we were disturbed to find some marchers at St. Pat's for All, including some elected officials, who planned to march in the homophobic parade too. Electeds like Mayor Bloomberg have frequently joined in both – claiming to support queers in Queens, and then marching in the anti-gay – and much more public – Manhattan parade alongside conservative, religious-right homophobes. It's a shameful trick, but it works for them as long as queers only notice what happens in Queens, and homophobes focus on Fifth Avenue.

That's why it's so important for us to confront homophobia where it still marches, at the St. Patrick's Day Parade in Manhattan. The parade is a major political and cultural event, broadcast nationally. The message of hate it carries matters very much. At least three queer youth have already been killed this year by other kids who were taught to fear them, and religious vitriol is gaining acceptance around the country. To challenge the systemic homophobia that's still wreaking violence on our communities, we have to leave our safe spaces and confront homophobes in the spaces they control.

All are welcome to join Irish Queers in protest at the NYC St. Patrick's Day parade – March 17th, 11a.m. at 57th Street and Fifth Avenue.

Emmaia Gelman

JF Mulligan

For Irish Queers