Saint Patrick’s Day is known as the one day of the year that everyone in the United States is Irish. It’s a day of eating corned beef and cabbage and drinking green beer.
It’s also been a day of cutting out part of the Irish community: LGBT people.
For many years and in many St. Patrick’s Day parades, the LGBT community hasn’t been welcome. Part of this issue has been because of religion—not surprising, as Ireland is a largely Catholic country, and Catholicism has largely fueled the ban on LGBT participants in Saint Patrick’s Day festivities. For many, the day is as much about the saint as it is about being a part of the Irish diaspora.
In 2015, years of protest by the Irish-American LGBT community seems to have paid off, at least to an extent. OutVets and a city Pride group marched in Boston, one of the biggest celebrations in the United States (the city has the largest Irish-American population in the nation).
The parade in New York City had some representation, but it also suffered some blows. Mayor Bill de Blasio announced in advance that he would not be attending the parade, because he was unhappy with how difficult organizers made it to allow the LGBT community to participate.
Several major sponsors pulled out of the 2014 parades in New York City and Boston, including beermakers Guinness, Heineken and Sam Adams, but after OutVets was allowed to participate, Guinness resumed sponsorship. The company is now pushing to allow other LGBT community groups a chance to march in the parade.
While there is still some resistance to allowing the LGBT community to be a part of the celebrations, it seems that the doors are starting to open to allow greater future representation in these parades. Time will tell if this will be an ongoing trend.