Catholic Church | GLAAD | Michelangelo Signorile | New York | Religion

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. 

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  1. On or about St. Patrick's Day each year (and at the beginning of spring break), Cornell University Architecture students carry on a festive and unique tradition that has continued for more than a century: Dragon Day! Friday's 100 hundred foot dragon made it one of the best! See it all in this 6-3/4 minute video on our blog.

    Posted by: Tony Ingraham | Mar 18, 2012 6:12:36 PM

  2. @jackfkntwist,

    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.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Mar 18, 2012 7:38:12 PM

  3. 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.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Mar 18, 2012 7:44:11 PM


    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.

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | Mar 18, 2012 10:21:43 PM

  5. @Jack,

    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.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Mar 19, 2012 11:44:01 AM

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