Gay Rights Group MassEquality Excluded From St. Patrick's Day Parade

Last week, MassEqulity was excluded from a St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Boston, Mass. MassEquality is a LGBT organization, focused on serving the state of Massachusetts. Executive Director Kara Suffredini stated that, “in the priorities and needs facing the LGBTQ (lesbian gay bisexual transgender queer) community, inclusion in the parade is not the top priority, but the significance of being excluded from such a big historical, cultural institution is emblematic of the rejection LGBT people face every day.” The organizers of the March 17 parade are from the Allied War Veterans Council.

There has been a long-term struggle with the organizers of the March 17 parade and LGBT rights groups. MassEquality was left out of the parade because the organizers said it was full. In 1995, the Irish American Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Group of Boston filed a suit against the council for excluding gay rights organizations from marching in the parade. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS). The court decided that the organizers have a right to choose who does or does not march in the parade.

This struggle is not something that started this year. MassEquality was also excluded from last year’s parade when organizers used the case mentioned above as their reasoning. After MassEquality was told by email that they applied too late, the organization thought that their explanation was disingenuous. Suffredini explained that “organizers of the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade have barred LGBT people and groups from marching in the Parade for 18 years simply because they are openly LGBT. After years of rejecting MassEquality, in particular, because it is an LGBT organization, it seems disingenuous to now ban the organization because the Parade is allegedly "full."

This exclusion seems to be strategic in nature and targeted at MassEquality because of the overt exclusionary past that the council has had towards LGBT peoples. For a state that recognizes same-sex marriages, it seems odd that a group would be excluding people based on sexual orientation. It hurts the LGBT rights movement when society continues to enforce heterosexual privilege in spaces that intersect with history. MassEquality seems to want to show the history of gay Irish-Americans. There should have been no push back from the council in a state that claims to be open and accepting. Excluding the LGBT community from history tells those who are trying to develop their own identity that it is still not okay to be gay.