American Irish have shamefully commercialized and trivialized the celebration of Saint Patrick’s Day for decades. I grew up a dual Irish and US citizen in a devout Catholic home. My parents and many close friends and relatives recently emigrated from Donegal. More than once I enjoyed step-dancing in the annual Saint Patrick’s Day Parade in New York. I willingly joined the chorus of derision for american green beer,”traditional” corn beef and cabbage, pea-colored milkshakes, garish green shirts, disneyfied shamrocks and leprechauns. Among this chorus, however, no chant was directed at the brightly colored rainbow, for it was that which delivered the pot of gold.
Strange then to see that in 2014, the organizers of the New York City Saint Patrick’s Day Parade still refuse to let a rainbow flag fly in their annual march lest the onlookers become aware that the Irish too are GLBTQ.
Stranger still the arrogance of the organizers. In reply to the announcement that Mayor DeBlasio would not march in a parade which discriminates against gay and lesbian New Yorkers, William Donohue, president of the Catholic League in New York City appeared gleeful. Newspapers quoted him stating he was “delighted” not to have marching in his parade a mayor who does not want to be associated with “Irish Catholics.”
I do not know Mr. Donohue. I can assume from the spelling of his name, however, that he is not an Irish Catholic but at best, “American Irish.” It is a fair assumption that the numbers of “Irish Catholics” parading in New York along any public official in 2014 will not be substantial.
In fact, condemnation resounds for Donohue’s bigotry voiced equally by the “Irish” and the “Catholics”
Even the Irish Catholic Church is aware of the cruelty and inhumanity, the unchristian, nature if you will, of its traditional anti-gay teaching.
A review of press of Northern Ireland and the of the Republic demonstrates an active concern with LBGTQ issues. A legislative study demonstrates that nationally both the Republic of Ireland and the North of Ireland are far ahead of most states in the United States in terms of civil justice such as equality in foster care opportunities,adoption rights, civil unions and consideration of same-sex marriage.
What is overwhelming, however, is that the Catholic League could choose to primly to defend the exclusion of certain persons from simply walking down the street carrying identifying symbols of pride. At the same time, the Catholic League which attempts to claim a “moral high ground” on issues of gender refuses to even address abuse with the Catholic Church.Catholic League Website This is a scandal which has deeply distressed Catholic society. Irish society has demanded that the Catholic Church compensate the injured through the courts even as it recognises the limits of such compensation schemes to ever heal these deep, infested wounds. http://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/some-magdalene-survivors-to-get-compensation-before-christmas-1.1587388Serial Clerical Child Abuse
In this month of the Olympics,national flags fly often and high. . I realize as I pass a television tuned to the events that my upbringing in an immigrant home somehow instilled within me a sense of the “other,” the “observer” and a fundamental incomprehension of knee-jerk tribalism. Instead, I honor the deeply instilled values I understand. The beauty and solemnity of our finest Churches move me deeply. I respect the sacrifices of the workers who built them, the women who cleaned them , the worshipers who tended them and the clerics who prayed in them. I am in awe of the tapestry of cultural treasures bequeathed to civil society by the church through language, literature, art and music. The spirit of the Irish as understood through its history and reflected in its culture, landscape, agriculture, architecture and diaspora are extremely precious to me. Not because we are a nation of drunks and of drudges. I embrace my “Irish Catholic” heritage willingly for my much missed mother, my maiden aunt, my gay uncle, my chinese cousin, the nun who is my father’s niece by marriage, my queer daughter, and my jewish husband. Maybe I’ll go back to the parade when I can step dance underneath a rainbow.