Leprechauns are said to hide their pots of gold at the end of a rainbow, but there will be no rainbows allowed at Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day parade this Sunday. Organizers of the annual event have rejected the application of a gay group.
“Our theme is St. Patrick’s Day,” said parade organizer Philip J. Wuschke Jr. “It isn’t a sexually oriented parade. They have parades for that.”
To be clear, the group that requested entry is hardly anything like the Pride parade-like floats to which Wuschke alluded. Instead, it is a group of 20 or so out-and-proud veterans who wanted to march alongside a myriad of other veteran groups that frequent the parade.
Officially, parade organizers said that they rejected this particular group of veterans because the application “misrepresented” the number of participants that would be marching. If that seems like a bogus excuse, that notion is validated by other more bigoted comments posted by the organizers on their website:
“We will not allow anyone to express harmful or inappropriate messages… This was a decision we made for the good of this parade. Keep in mind, we are approached by all types of groups. Some of which try to destroy the integrity of not only this parade, but our faith, this town and our Country. And to those we say, ‘No!, stay home, Not in my town.’ Rest assured, we will continue to exclude anyone that tries to compromise the public’s enjoyment of this parade.”
If the intention of that message was not, in fact, to imply that homosexuals are ruining the community, then the organizers need a new copy editor.
Boston Mayor Martin Walsh had hoped to solve the controversy by negotiating a deal between the gay veterans and parade organizers. Though the out veterans wanted to hold a banner that identified themselves as gay, parade organizers said they could only march if there was no reference to their sexualities whatsoever. Someone needs to tell Wuschke and associates that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is not a legitimate policy anymore.
Mayor Walsh has indicated that he will boycott the event if the gay veterans are not permitted to participate. He is not the only local politician to do so. Past parades have been essential PR opportunities for aspiring politicos, but none of the ten gubernatorial candidates will make an appearance. While US Representative Stephen Lynch has said he would also skip the parade if there was discrimination, he also noted that he held out hope that a last minute agreement could be reached between the two groups.
Samuel Adams, brewed by the Boston Beer Co., has also decided to end its sponsorship of the parade because of the organizers’ anti-gay sentiments. Ironically, it appears that the elimination of a beer sponsor has Boston residents more angry than the preceding controversy.
Considering that the parade is already well known for widespread and excessive public intoxication, it’s all the more ridiculous that parade organizers think their decision helps to preserve a “family-friendly” environment.