Scoot: On St. Patrick's Day, you're Irish first!
St. Patrick’s Day is a time when people go to their favorite Irish bars (or any bar for that matter) and embrace the fun-loving spirit of the Irish! It’s said that everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day!
However, I doubt that most of those drinking and frolicking in the streets in New Orleans or other American cities spend any time honoring the life of St. Patrick. But as a good Catholic, I’m sure St. Patrick would still appreciate the frivolity of the celebration.
St. Patrick’s Day is known for drinking green beer, Irish whiskey, eating corn beef, cabbage and potatoes – but in more recent years St. Patrick’s Day has become a day filled with controversy.
The controversy over St. Patrick’s Day parades centers on whether gays and lesbians should be allowed to march under banners that declare their sexual orientation. The battle over the inclusion of gays and lesbians in New York City’s historic parade went to the Supreme Court. The High Court ruled that since the parade was operated by a private organization – it could exclude gays and lesbians parading as a distinguished group within the parade.
This year, Guinness withdrew its sponsorship of the New York City parade over the controversy and the makers of Samuel Adams pulled their sponsorship of the traditional Boston St. Patrick’s Day parade yesterday.
Some bars in both New York and Boston threatened to stop selling Guinness and Samuel Adams if the companies refused to withdraw their sponsorships of the parades.
As far as I know, the controversy over gay and lesbian inclusion is not a big controversy in Ireland – so why should it be so controversial in America?
If you listen to The Scoot Show regularly on WWL – you know that I totally support gay equality and denounce any judgment of individuals based on their sexual orientation – but I think there are a few things we can all learn from the controversy about gays and lesbians parading in St. Patrick’s Day parades.
When this issue first became a controversy years ago, I remember reading that it was not an issue in Ireland, because in Ireland, you are considered Irish first – and gay or lesbian second. This led to the realization that we are more divided in America and many define themselves as straight or gay or liberal or conservative or black and white first – and American second – when we should think of ourselves - and each other as Americans first!
We can learn from the Irish. It is time for us to think of ourselves as Americans first – or in the case of St. Patrick’s Day parades – Irish first and sexual orientation is second.
If proud Americans of Irish decent want to be part of a St. Patrick’s Day parade then their sexual orientation should not disqualify their inclusion. And if proud Americans are gay or lesbian, then maybe the focus should not be on proclaiming their sexual orientation during a parade but their focus should be on the fact that they are Irish – or part Irish – and nothing else for that occasion.
This is not to suggest that gays and lesbians should not be proud of their sexual orientation and should not demand inclusion throughout society, but when it comes to a parade where the distinguishing factor is being Irish – then shouldn’t everyone accent their Irish heritage rather than their sexual orientation?