St. Patrick’s Day, NYC: Revelry, Beer, Discrimination

Imgres-2Happy St. Paddy's Day! At this very moment, many hundreds of festively attired and potentially very drunk people are either marching or preparing to march in New York City's 251st annual St. Patrick Day's Parade. It'll be a helluva spectacle. But the parade will include no gay floats or banners.

To which one may reasonably respond: So what? It's an Irish thing. What's more, it's an Irish Catholic thing — the parade's run by a Catholic fraternal order with the tellingly silly name "The Ancient Order of Hibernians," the leaders of which four years ago likened out, gay participation in their 5th Avenue processional to neo-Nazis marching in an Israeli parade. 

But — while it may be one thing for a Catholic fraternal order to be discriminatory, Michelangelo Signorile and GLAAD argue that it's quite another thing for NBC to enable its discrimination. And that's what's happening. From Signorile:

It's frankly appalling that NBC, and now its parent company Comcast, still sells the broadcast rights (on its local affiliate, WNBC) to the intolerant bunch that runs the parade (in 2007 that amount was $300,000) and then helps the organizers sell advertising to major companies. More than that, one of NBC's top executives, a man who aids the organizers in getting those ad dollars, was chosen as this year's Grand Marshal.

And from GLAAD:

Once again this year, New York's NBC Affiliate is airing … and thereby undoubtedly financially supporting this discriminatory event. In fact, the Grand Marshall of this year's parade is Francis X. Comerford, Chief Revenue Officer and President of WNBC.

The annual St. Patrick's Day Parade is a New York tradition. But so is community spirit. So is standing up for your fellow New Yorkers. So is diversity and inclusion. What message is WNBC sending its LGBT and allied viewers?

"The idea that a group of LGBT people aren't allowed to participate in a parade in the middle of New York City in the year 2012 is completely out of touch with a majority of Americans – regardless of ethnicity or religion – and it is frankly indefensible" said GLAAD's Vice President of Programs and Communications, Herndon Graddick. "GLAADwill be requesting to meet with WNBC to ensure that, if such discriminatory practices remain in place, the event isn't one associated with such an important and inclusive media outlet that should represent the full diversity of New York City."

Both Signorile and GLAAD point out that several high-profile guests have in the past turned down invitations to appear in the Hibernians' big green slog, most notably former Irish President Mary McAleese, and Signorile notes that with Comcast's takeover of NBC, even the company broadcasting the parade may well sit the thing out next year. Unless the Hibernians change their minds. 


  1. pedro says

    I’m gay and Catholic…and frankly, I don’t blame these people for not wanting gay floats in their parade…Have you seen a recent gay pride parade lately? Not exactly a family affair…Of all the things for gay people to waste energy on, the St. Paddy’s parade isn’t worth it…Leave these people alone, let them have their parade in peace! Do you want your toddler to sit on the sidewalk while men in tongs prance around in front of them…I think not! My mother is very pro-gay rights and she couldn’t stomach more than five minutes of a gay pride parade…Some people have conservative sensibilities, it doesn’t mean they’re bigots!

  2. Graphicjack says

    @ Pedro… Are you saying that all gay pride floats are full of men in togas or speedos? That’s pretty ignorant. Yes, some floats, usually the commercial ones advertising bars or bathhouses, are pretty sexual, but most community group marchers are wearing plain to semi-outrageous, but often non-sexualized clothing, holding a banner and maybe some placards. There are moms with kids, gay Asian groups, queer religious groups, etc. I am sure that a gay pride float in a St. Patricks Day parade would be pretty toned down. It would probably focus on the rainbow.. You know, that arc of colour where the pot if gold and the leprecons frolic? Get over it, mate. There are gay Irish people who just want to feel included. The disriminiation of the exclusion is ignorant and based on stupid stereotypes. Shame on the organizers, and NBC for sponsoring this.

  3. GMcG says

    Isn’t NBC also the parent of gay dependent network BRAVO? Is anyone willing to give up their BRAVO shows a while to bring the message home that discrimination is never right and will not be tolerated? I certainly hope so.

  4. says

    I’m Irish and not drunk.

    This Parade is regarded as the preserve of old farts and bigots.
    Mo Irish politician attends; it has been boycotted repeatedly by the Irish president.
    The organizers are a jumped up self appointed cabal of Catholic bigots…….and unworthy of the title of Hibernians or Irish.

    We, the Irish people , are completely ashamed of this gang of washed up has-beens.
    They disgrace us in public every year with their parade of ignorant intolerance.

  5. terry says

    The hosts of this parade believe in talking snakes, man/bird creatures blowing trumpets and goat/man in red but not gays. Gays don’t or shouldn’t exist and if they are ignored long enough maybe they will go away. Note: Blacks would not go unnoticed at their little party either and I’m sure they are not welcome by all these great christians.

  6. Francis says

    Pedro is one of those self-hating religious types who chooses his RELIGION an the bigotry that comes with it, over his own sexuality, and over the gay community in general. Catholics>Gays in the eyes of Pedro. And what do you mean by family affair, Pedro? Gay people are anti-family? Yeah……’s rich that any CATHOLIC would say this, knowing the skeletons in the closet within the faith. You side with hate; that’s your choice, but most LGBTQ citizens have the self-respect to not lay down when an entire parade and organization blatantly discriminates against us.

    As for NBC, I will give them the benefit of the doubt and say that they didn’t take into account the homophobic actions of the St. Patrick’s day parade organizers. Now that they are aware it is time for NBC to pull their support of this event going forward. Believing in “God” is NOT an excuse for homophobia.

  7. Dearcomrade says

    I’m an Irish-American Ex-Catholic and can’t imagine a more asinine holiday then getting drunk in celebrating a fifth century Papist that supposedly banished snakes from Ireland (more likely Pagans). I grew up in NY and it is one huge excuse for Fireman, Police, and regular blue collar Paddy’s to get drunk. In the middle of Lent no less. The church gets in on the deal be cause the revelry would go on with or without the pederast cardinals participation.

  8. Contrarian says

    Small point Andrew T., but the AOH no longer sponsors the parade though they have input through membership on the new sponsorship board. Read some of the comments in both the Irish and English press from both native Irish and diaspora Irish in England about your average American of Irish ancestry. “Plastic paddy” is the mildest of the terms of derision.
    I agree with the commenter who said “old farts” and I’d add it’s not even a festival of Irishness since Protestant Irish (among others, including out LGBT) are unwelcome. The organizers still play the old nationalist cards even after the Brit Queeen was welcomed warmly. Time warp “idjuts”.

  9. Dirk says

    I just heard on NY1 that today is a day and a parade where no one is “excluded”. Um, no, whoever filed the NY1 report really seems to be living in a dreamworld. Considering the station has covered the protests against the parade, I’m surprised to hear that comment included.

  10. ratbastard says


    I’m American of part Irish descent. My paternal grandfather served in both the Irish and British army. I have the British army medal my relative received when he died in a London hospital from his WW1 injuries. My ancient [she seemed ancient to me,and lived to 105] great grand aunt [?] baby sat me and told me stories of her life as a young woman inn 1920s Dublin, and of the Irish revolt and civil war.

    When people ask me what nationality I am I say unhesitatingly American. I’m not one of those hyphenated Americans. And even though I was born and raised in NYC and Boston, only once have I ever been to a St. Patrick’s Day parade. I don’t celebrate it, don’t go out of my way to wear green and that kind of BS. Growing up with Irish and English relatives, and interacting with many ‘real’ Irish because of where I live, I’m well aware of their scorn for Americans, especially Americans with an Irish background. And Ii have zero sentiment for the Old Country. My granddad always had a healthy disrespect for the miserable homeland he was forced to emigrate from. So don’t get the false idea all ‘Irish’ Americans have a hard-on for shamrocks, Guinness and Old Country.

    And as a homosexual man I find these ethnic and religious parade and festival organizers very offensive for their ignorant anti-gay bigotry. Although they aren’t as bad as some other ethnicities.

  11. ratbastard says

    Those scornful English and Irish sure do love coming to the U.S. to study, work, live, visit, don’t they. I was in Manhattan couple weeks ago,tripping over them. Feel free to hop on a plane at JFK and go back to where you feel more at home anytime. Most Americans, ‘Irish’ or otherwise, won’t give a phuk. That goes for other ‘races’ and nationalities/ethnicties also. Don’t let the door hit you in the arse on the way out.

  12. Yonkersconquers says

    But Manhattan isn’t the US. It should have its own passport. You’ll trip over the Irish and English here – but in Ohio or Nebraska say, not so much. I’m sorry you feel so insulted by their presence, but when it comes to Irish Americans and anti-gay exclusionary policies and attitudes you can kind of see where they are coming from.

  13. ratbastard says


    LOL…As a demographic, ‘Irish’ Americans are among the most ‘progressive’ and Democratic, especially big urban Catholics. Massachusetts is heavily ‘Irish’, and incredibly gay-friendly, at least as far as laws and legal rights are concerned. Like-wise NY state and city, another great ‘progressive’ bastion. Even San Francisco; are you aware it’s heavily ‘ethnic’ Catholic, especially Irish and Italian?

    Seriously, again, the ‘real’ Irish and English can go phuk themselves as far as I’m concerned. They’re hardly in a higher moral, ethical and intellectual position LOL…

    Their dislike of ‘Irish’ Americans is just an extension of their snotty dislike of Americans,period. And that’s based primarily on leftist ideology which demonizes all things American. They don’t differentiate between ‘good’ so-called progressive Americans and everyone else.

  14. ratbastard says


    Excuse to get drunk and act up? Ever hear of Madi Gras?

    And yes, I know it precedes Lent.

    It’s my understanding St. Patrick’s Day was strictly a religious day back in the Old Country. In America it became an ethnic celebration like Columbus Day, Puerto Rico Day, Israel Day, Caribbean Festivals, etc. Today it’s mostly a marketing gimmick and big $ day for bars, restaurants and clubs. And O.T. for cops and others.

  15. says


    You’re either a fool or a knave.

    Your opinion that the real Irish and English have some dislike of Americans based on some leftist ideology……that is just generalised nonsense.A few may; the vast majority do not.

    If you seriously think that Americans are disliked then I’m afraid you know absolutely nothing about us.
    What we were objecting to in this thread was the bigots who discriminated against LGBT people by not allowing them to be represented in the NY St.Patrick’s Day Parade.

    Then you blow off on this tirade of self important abuse.
    And as for your grandfather disrespecting his “miserable” homeland, well some of us love our country, our culture and the progress our country has made since 1922.

    You and your grandfather can stay as miserable as you want.
    It is his loss that he thought his native country miserable.

  16. DannyEastVillage says

    St Patrick’s Day parades in Ireland have welcomed gay people, groups and floats for more than two decades. WTF?

  17. ratbastard says


    1) I’m far from miserable

    2) My granddad is dead,but was likewise a far from miserable. Very outgoing and a great sense of humor.

    3) I’m glad you love your country and culture,etc. I didn’t actually say I hate Ireland, the Irish or England and the English. I don’t. But Stand by my observation that chronic ridicule of Americans is in fact pretty wide-spread among both the Irish [especially younger generations] and the English. And I should have added that there’s really no corresponding attitude among Americans regarding Irish or English, but most Americans don’t care if they’re disliked and ridiculed, and would just say phuk off. But MANY Americans of Irish descent in places like NYC and Boston are well aware of the fact many ‘Irish’ dislike them, and are embarrassed by them.

  18. Bill Perdue says

    “Some people have conservative sensibilities, it doesn’t mean they’re bigots!”

    Yes it does, Pedro, and you just proved it.

  19. DragonWoof says

    There are St. Patrick day parades all over the Republic of Ireland. I’ve marched in several as both a gay man and a men’s sexual health worker passing out condoms to folks on the sidelines (in gold wrappers no less). And with few exceptions (very few) all were greeted with cheers and applause.

    It is much more a drunken celebration here in the US by far, but it’s odd that in Ireland, they include LGBT people in these parades and LGBT organizations. Up to and including people wearing sperm costumes to highlight safe sex!

    I am American. I was born in California and raised all over the US. In five years living in Ireland I did not encounter a single person there who treated me with anything other than respect and a welcome attitude. Five years! I didn’t live in Dublin, either.

    Check your odd racism at your mouth, especially when you don’t KNOW what you’re talking about.

    The Irish people found it odd that Americans would not let LGBT people march in an American parade.

    This is not happening in a foreign country, it’s happening here! Not by Irish, by Americans!


  20. says


    We find it incomprehensible that LGBT people cannot march in a Parade which purports to celebrate Irish culture.Yes, LGBT people always march in parades in Ireland…..and no, they don’t wear thongs and parade half naked……it’s much too cold and we don’t have the bodies ! But it is not just me and others who critise the Ancient Order of Hibernians; our President has consistently refused invitations of lead that discriminatory march down 5th Avenue.
    The Cops and the Fire Dept should boycott the parade un til they end their discrimination.

    @ RATBASTARD : It is because of our incomprehension at the attitude of US-Irish (hyphenated !) in discriminating against LGBT people that we in turn critise such intolerance.
    But please remember that any such hostility is directed against the old farts and the bigots……and is just as equally directed against the Catholic Bigoted Church.
    The “chronic ridicule ” you mention is directed towards those with no appreciation of a more mature Ireland, directed against those who still think of us as perpetual drunkards, priest worshippers….
    We have matured, we have grown up and we gay people live in a much more inclusive society than could ever have been imagined in your Grandfather’s day.

    We also ridicule Palin, Santorum etc.
    But we have never ridiculed President Obama,the Kennedys, Elizabeth Warren,
    President Clinton and the progressives.

    A quarter of a million people turned out last summer in Dublin to listen to President Obama speak. where in America has that happened ?
    You speak as if ridicule of Americans is indistinguishable from ridicule of Irish-Americans who act as extreme right wingers………that distinction is manifest in our boycotting of the bigoted Hibernians.

  21. ratbastard says


    The typical ‘real’ Irish person dislikes and looks down on any American of Irish or even part Irish descent who dares celebrate in any way being ‘Irish’. You are snobs, period. I don’t know if it has to do with some kind of chip on your shoulders, inferiority complex, whatever. This is not unique to Irish. ‘Real’ Italians do the exact same thing towards Italian-Americans with the added caveat that many Italian-Americans are descended from Sicilians, and ‘Italians’ look down on Sicilians. It’s common for Puerto Rican-Americans to be given a hard time by ‘Real’ Puerto Ricans. The list is endless. The French often mock and look down on people from Quebec. Portuguese think they’re better than Brazilians. The Spanish look down their nose at Mexicans and Latin Americans, especially mixed race, Indians.

  22. says


    Yeah, and you’re not a racist.

    “Snobs”; “chip on shoulder”; “inferiority complex”.

    Whom appointed you Commentator -in-Chief ?
    Quite frankly your views are offensive, puerile and ill informed.
    Yeah, a snob !

  23. ratbastard says


    Racist? Am I missing something? And I grew up and live in the most diverse environment imaginable, the epitome of multicultural. Unlike some white people and others [but especially whites] I’m not uncomfortable around ‘minorities’ and have no problem speaking my mind, even if it’s not politically correct.

    Snobs? Absolutely. You have a problem with that? Too bad, it’s my experienced opinion, am I’m not by any means the only person who holds this opinion. It’s just rarely talked about.

  24. ratbastard says

    For the first time in MANY years I went to the parade in Boston today. HUGE crowd, police say 800,000+. The crowd was remarkably well behaved overall, and [this is important for people like jackfkntwist] very diverse, white, black, Hispanic, Asian, and yes, there were gays and lesbians. Relax Jack, it wasn’t just those nasty Irish-Americans.

  25. says


    Actually, I sincerely hope you had a good time at the parade.

    On a different topic and tone :
    Did you meet Mrs Kearney in South Boston, who would always say :
    “Thanks be to God there are no homosexuals in Ireland”.
    God bless her.

  26. ratbastard says


    Mrs. Whatshername by no means is typical of South Boston, which is an urban and diverse neighborhood. Trust me, there are homosexuals in South Boston, including the housing projects, not just the yuppies on the other side of town or down by the seaport.