After years of advocacy to ensure that LGBTQ people are visible in South Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade, MassEquality will be among the marchers. Good news, right?
Well, not exactly, since their visibility in the parade will look a whole lot more like invisibility; the group cannot wear or carry any object, like T-shirts or signs, that include the term “gay” or refer to sexual orientation at all. In short, their bodies will be on display, but their identities will not.
According to the Boston Globe, Tim Duross, one of the parade coordinators stated, “We said, ‘You’re a great organization, you do wonderful things for people, and therefore we’d be happy to have you in our parade. But we’d rather you just wish everybody a happy St. Patrick’s Day and left it with that.’”
For some, like Quincey Roberts, a co-founder of Boston’s Hispanic Black Gay Coalition, the restrictive invitation it just not enough.
“I applaud MassEquality for their advocacy; however the organizers of the St. Patrick’s Day parade need to know that whether folk in the parade are wearing t-shirts with LGBTQ on them or carrying rainbow flags there has been and will continue to be gay people in the parade.”
Indeed, it’s absurd that organizers are playing this dirty game of identity politics as if one cannot “wish everyone a happy St. Patrick’s Day” and be proudly, visibly LGBTQ. Imagine the backlash if LGBTQ pride organizers asked marchers to not carry along objects that celebrate ethnic or religious diversity. E.g. “We’d be happy to have you march in the pride parade, but you are forbidden from wearing or carrying any object with the word Irish, the color green, or a clover (even one with three leaves).”
Maybe this little leap in the direction of constricted inclusion will encourage future organizers to heed the wise words of an Irish toast: A friend’s eye is a good mirror.
In the eyes of those marching with MassEquality, may the organizers truly see themselves.