Posts Tagged → \”Queer Rising\” \”Ken O\’Neill\” \”The Marrying Kind\”
I’ve just returned from the St. Patrick’s day parade.
Now I glance at my watch and realize a full five minutes have passed since writing the above sentence. What on earth ever made me think I should become a humorist? And more to the point, a humorist who writes about the inequities of being queer in America.
Now that’s funny stuff!!
I guess I’m stymied because I thought I’d see representatives from the KKK or neo-nazis marching up fifth Avenue. Maybe Fred Phelps and family carrying “God Hates Fags” signs. Instead, I saw lots of smiling, happy people. Occasionally one of the participants would give us a thumbs up as they walked by. As we screamed, “Let us join! Let us join!” –as we recalled every moment of our lives when we’ve been passed up, passed over, ignored– these fine people seemed not to grasp the problem.
Still they smiled supportively at our enraged, screaming faces.
And suddenly I understood for the first time something that is actually quite basic. For most people there is an enormous disconnect between what they think is right and what they are willing to do to defend what is right.
I would guess that the vast majority of people marching in today’s parade believe that members of the LGBT community should be allowed to openly march. Some of these people even beckoned with their hands for us to join them. I don’t think they meant to taunt. I doubt they thought their action was in anyway cruel. They wanted, I’m guessing, to be supportive. They wanted to make it clear that they weren’t homophobic. Not anti-gay. Not me!
So we changed the chant from, “Let Us Join!” to “Join US! Join US!!”
And still the thumbs went up and the marchers broke into smiles. The cameras came out to take the photos-to record what? That they had seen a real live gay person? So they could show the photo later and say, “Isn’t it horrible that they won’t let gays march in the parade.”
That is what they did instead of doing what we’d asked of them. Instead of doing something that would have had an impact. They did not join us–not a single one of them. They kept on moving. Because, after all, that is what one does in a parade. Isn’t it?
And the bagpipes played. Soldiers walked at attention. Little girls danced the jig. All the while I found myself slipping away, fighting to hold back tears.
I am an Irish American. My grandfather was a member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians. These are my people.
Apparently they’ve forgotten that.
It is difficult for me to put a positive spin on today’s events. I personally had no friends or family members marching in the parade. That’s something, I guess. It’s more than Michael Bloomberg’s gay family members can say.
But what of these people, these smiling participants, who so clearly think they support me? They acted like they were my friends, but they would not join me. They would not sacrifice their good time, even though one of their own was being excluded.
I wonder if the day will ever come, when all of those people, all of my Irish brothers and sisters who believe in their hearts that I am worthy to walk with them–I wonder if they will ever say, “This is wrong. This parade is wrong.” Will they come to know that encouraging smiles are no longer enough? Will they awake seized with the conviction that they must do more?
Will the day ever come when I find myself standing on Fifth Avenue, protest placard in hand, with no one to wave it at? No one to hear my cries? Because my supporters have decided to be brave?
My hope is that the time will come when these good people remember the actual significance of this day.
And rising up together, as Patrick himself did, they will drive out the snakes that threaten us all.