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The Blue & Gray Press | May 20, 2018

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Inclusion of LGBT community in St. Patrick's Day parade causes controversy

By COLEMAN HOPKINS

The politicization of The St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York City highlights everything that is wrong with the current political world: politics, now more than ever, are being crammed into everything and anything, whether or not it is appropriate or relevant. After receiving heavy criticism over the past decades for not allowing L.G.B.T. rights groups to use the holiday as a forum for political demonstration, the organizers of the parade folded this year, granting L.G.B.T rights groups a spot in the parade under their own banner.

However, critics are speaking out against these groups, saying it is irrelevant to the parade and its meaning.

Critics go even further to say that it is disrespectful that activists would rather march under the banner of their sexuality than their heritage, undermining the parade’s intention to celebrate a common cultural background, as well as the feast day of St. Patrick.

While some have hailed this as a moment of triumph for L.G.B.T rights, others view the decision as a slap in the face to the culture of St. Patrick’s Day and its religious history, which is very conservative. In the New York Times article, GLAAD president Sarah Kate Ellis was quoted saying, “It’s about time; Discrimination has no place on America’s streets, let alone Fifth Avenue.”

Critics claim that by bullying their way into the parade, those in the L.G.B.T community are doing themselves, and the parade, a disservice by turning a 253-year-old cultural celebration into a political statement. Moreover, some feel as though the L.G.B.T. groups are acting selfishly by interjecting their sexual preferences and politics into an apolitical event, effectively undermining the cultural aspect to the annual parade.

On the even farther end of the religious spectrum are those who view the parade, and any parades and celebrations, as a misinterpretation of what the day is supposed to mean.

The Huffington Post writes that the Washington, D.C. Archdiocese issued, and then retracted, a statement attacking St. Patrick’s Day Parades in general, calling them “disgraceful” and noting that the outlandish celebrations are only falling farther downhill once politics enter the mix.

Moreover, the Archdiocese stressed that St. Patrick’s Day is not about sexual preferences or about getting drunk and wearing green, it is about going to mass and praying or reflecting on St. Patrick’s life and his vision for the church.

Furthermore, the L.G.B.T. community has never been banned from participating as individuals. They were not allowed to march under their own banner, but they are allowed, like anyone else, to take part in the parade as individuals.

Being a family-oriented, cultural celebration, I think that it would be best to remove the politics and the grandstanding from the parade itself as it has been in years past.

L.G.B.T. communities have every means and every right to get their message out, in PSAs, in rallies, as well as through social media, but interjecting their sexuality into a religious holiday is simply irrelevant to their goals and cause. Hopefully, moving forward, people will stop taking themselves so seriously and act a little more maturely when trying to express their political and social ideas so as to avoid infringing on the celebration of others’ religious and cultural backgrounds.