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Autumn 1999 [c. 1,750 words][End]

A plan for action against discrimination from Homosexuals Intransigent!


If a group of white chauvinists decided to recast the saint's day of a universally revered saint as an occasion on which to stage a parade to celebrate the white race; forbade blacks, Orientals, and people of mixed race from participating; and defended their right to march as a unified white community on "National No-Nigger Day" on the basis that this is a religious procession the state may not interfere with, how many major politicians would vie to be the most prominent political marcher in that parade each year? how many political and social luminaries would compete for seats at the reviewing stand? how many broadcasters would open their morning news shows with "Happy No-Nigger Day, everyone!"?

Saint Patrick's Day has become "No-Faggot Day" in New York City, and we have got to make people understand that that is no more acceptable than would be a "No-Nigger Day".

Again this year (1999), the organizing committee of the New York City Saint Patrick's Day Parade has refused permission for the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization ("ILGO") to march up Fifth Avenue with everyone else. Courts have upheld that indefensible bigotry under the pretense that this raucous, drunken, multiethnic and multireligious event is a religious procession of pious Catholics who have the right to deny participation to any group, such as gay men, who defy the teachings of The Church. What a load of crap that is! One of the groups that got the most media attention this year was an all-Japanese bagpipe and drum corps from Tokyo! In all likelihood not ONE of its members was Catholic. By contrast, many of the members of ILGO are faithful, churchgoing Catholics who see no conflict between their nature and their faith.

It's time for gay men and their friends to fight back. Until the organizers of the New York parade and those of every other major city's Saint Patrick's Day Parade permit gay men to participate openly, as gay men, ALL gay men in the United States and elsewhere should wear ORANGE, not green, on Saint Patrick's Day. Even in cities where we are permitted to join the line of march, we should wear both green AND orange to protest exclusion of gay men from other marches.

You've got plenty of time to shop for that orange tie, orange sweater, orange blazer, orange pants or hat or overalls or jumpsuit. And many of you have dayglow-orange insides to reversible air-force jackets that are black outside. Prepare to wear the inside out if the day is cold. And tell your family and friends that you'd welcome some orange clothing for Christmas or your birthday.  You can use these items at Halloween, in combination with black.  And inasmuch as orange and black are the universally recognized colors of Halloween, and Halloween is an unofficial "national holiday" in large parts of the gay world, the displays of orange at Halloween could serve as political statements.  Signs at Halloween events can urge people, "Remember: Wear orange on Saint Patrick's Day!"

Orange is one of the colors of the Irish Republic's national flag, so no one can sensibly complain that this is a declaration of anti-Irish bigotry. The orange stripe in Ireland's tricolor is fully as wide as the green stripe. BUT, you see, orange is the color of Protestantism in Ireland, and, more to the point, the color of the Orange Order, a militant Scots-British organization that celebrates Britain's defeating Catholic Irish armies and ravaging Ireland to annex it to England.

[Irish Republic flag]

"Protestant" means "protesting", so it is only fitting that gay men protesting antihomosexual bigotry from the Saint Patrick's Day Parade organizing committee wear ORANGE — and wear it proudly.

Let gay men and their families, friends, and political allies wear ORANGE on Saint Patrick's Day 2000, proclaim widely in advance that they will do so, and make plain to everyone in the Nation that anyone who wears only green and NO orange on that day is proclaiming that he or she is antihomosexual.

Let us warn every politician that if he or she marches in or sits in the reviewing stand for any Saint Patrick's Day parade that excludes homosexuals, they will be branded an enemy of gay men to be defeated at the polls as early as possible. Let every broadcaster know that if it broadcasts any coverage of an antihomosexual Saint Patrick's Day parade without equal time for homosexual protests against such a parade, that broadcaster becomes an enemy of gay men, to be destroyed to suchever extent we can do so. That means, at the least, that gay men in advertising agencies and in-house advertising departments should work to redirect advertising away from that broadcaster, to its less-bigoted competitors instead. Such a move can be easily defended even by gay men in the closet, on the basis that the competition reaches comparable numbers of people of the groups the advertiser wishes to reach, but the competitor is free from the negatives that the controversy over Saint Patrick's Day has given the bigoted station, so it's better to steer clear of controversy by placing ads elsewhere.

And every broadcaster and individual in the Nation should be made to realize that greeting people with "Happy Saint Patrick's Day!" is about as acceptable as would be "Happy No-Nigger Day!"

Everyone should be made aware that as far as gay men are concerned, the Saint Patrick's Day Parade has become a vicious antihomosexual demonstration that must be destroyed. Schools that send bands to march should be confronted for supporting antigay bigotry. Individual musicians in such bands should be urged to boycott the event or, if they prefer to participate, wear orange armbands in solidarity with gay men — on the side toward television cameras and the reviewing stand. If their school attempts to discipline them for wearing such an armband, they should challenge such disciplinary measures in the courts as unconstitutional restriction of freedom of speech.

Every high school or college invited to march should be worried that accepting such an invitation would put them into the middle of a controversy they would much rather stay out of.

If the first year of protests does not make the Committee change its stand, we must step up the pressure. Let's form our own parade on the same day on another avenue. If the bigots march on Fifth Avenue, let us march on Avenue of the Americas, Seventh, Eighth, or even Ninth Avenue. And let the orange fly. Orange banners, orange posters, orange floats, orange uniforms on bands. Maybe we can get Tropicana, Sunny Delight, or other orange-juice drink makers to sponsor the parade, in consideration for very prominent display of banners for their products.

Step up the pressure. Invite the Orange Order in Northern Ireland to provide a Grand Marshal for the Orange Parade in New York City — and marching bands. Let some megahost hold an Orange Party as prestigious as the Black Party and White Party in New York (but drug free), or the Black and Blue Party in Montreal.

Make orange the color of Americans of Irish ancestry, leaving green for natives of Ireland alone. Recast the flag of Ireland as the flag of the Irish diaspora, where the green band stands for the Emerald Isle, the white band for the oceans and generations that separate the Isle from the Irish abroad, and the orange band stands for the Irish in America.

Step up the pressure. When the antigay parade's vendors sell green "Kiss Me, I'm Irish" buttons, let gay vendors sell orange "Kiss Me, I'm Irish — but duly ashamed" buttons.

Step up the pressure. Display signs in the Orange Parade: "Give Ireland back to Britain", "Support the Protestant Militias", "Ian Paisley, PLEASE Save Ireland from the Irish".

Step up the pressure. Collect money for Protestant paramilitary organizations in Northern Ireland. Display signs in the Orange Parade that proclaim, "The only good Irishman . . ." "U.S. Out of Ulster. Let them fight it out between themselves." Etc.

Step up the pressure year to year until the official organizing committee of the Fifth Avenue parade gives in or is ruined. Sell buttons and display signs that remind the Irish of when they suffered bigotry — and make them consider whether such bigotry might be rekindled: "No Irish need apply", "I'm American. My people LEFT Ireland. They knew something." Play to anti-immigrant bigotry. "Defend our borders: deport Irish illegals."

The Irish in the United States must be made to feel that supporting the antihomosexual policies of the organizers of New York's Saint Patrick's Day Parade poses serious dangers of poisoning the great non-Irish majority in the United States against Ireland, and risks producing increased violence in Northern Ireland as Southern Irish make powerful enemies among gay men and their friends and families in the United States, who can vent their rage with massive financial support for Unionist paramilitaries willing and able to fight to keep Ireland divided.

Saint Patrick's Day can in short order be made a very unpleasant day for everyone. Why should it be unpleasant for us alone?

When Saint Patrick's Day ceases to be a party but becomes instead a focus for bitter arguments and confrontation; when school band after school band turns down invitations to march; when colleges that do choose to send bands find their campuses filled with angry demonstrations and denunciations; when first one, then another, then another broadcast organization decides not to carry the parade live, and others decide not even to send camera crews or even do stories on the event, the organizing committee of the New York parade will give in.

And then we can make Saint Patty's a party again.

Until the day arrives when gay men can march openly and proudly — and happily, nonconfrontationally — as gay men in the Saint Patrick's Day Parade, however, every gay man and his friends, family members, and political allies should wear ORANGE on Saint Patrick's Day to tell the world that they will not celebrate No-Faggot Day — not this year, not ever.


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