Southie Parade Organizer Tries Very Hard to Undermine All That LGBT Progress

There are, apparently, very narrow rules about what kind of rainbows can be displayed at the St. Patrick's Day Parade.

Marty Walsh

Image via AP

In a bizarre postscript to this year’s St. Patrick’s Day parade, which included for the first time two groups that identified as LGBT-affiliated, Allied War Veterans Council Commander Brian Mahoney wrote a column Friday in South Boston Today to ensure that no one accused him of making history.

Though parade organizers received credit for inclusiveness, Mahoney wants to make sure you know that Boston Pride, one of two gay groups that marched, was only included because the sneaky gays concealed their true identities, as gay people are so wont to do, in their application.

It was innocently believed upon receiving it that they were an offshoot of “Boston Strong” and so they were sent a letter of acceptance by the parade organizer.

The committee quickly realized its mistake, but having already admitted Outvets, a gay group that promised to adhere to the parade’s military themes, it decided that technically, Boston Pride’s proposal violated no rules. Still, Mahoney would make sure the group didn’t get up to any funny business. He spoke to Boston Pride to outline the parade’s rules, he writes in his column. And before the parade began, he personally inspected their float. There, he found rainbow banners, normally cause for serious concern, but in this case, acceptable, for the rainbow banners had “a pot of gold and leprechauns” on them.

All seemed well. Any banners that might be construed as “political” had been appropriately adorned with Irish paraphernalia. But then…the gays made the devious move that Mahoney had feared.

It was shocking and unauthorized, then, when they appeared at “G” and Broadway carrying 10-12 multicolored umbrellas that I would describe as rainbow even though I have been told they ‘technically’ were not rainbows.

Do the gays think they can get away with this flagrant act of political speech? Carrying multicolored umbrellas that if you squint or develop sudden-onset color-blindness, might be confused with the gay pride rainbow? (They’re pictured here.) Well, the joke is on them, Mahoney writes, because rainbow or no rainbow, “umbrellas of any sort are not allowed.”

So there! And it sounds like the consequences for such technical violations be dire. “We review tapes of the parade for improvements and violations and will take action where appropriate.”

What even to say about this column? Readers might be left wondering what purpose it served, exactly. Mahoney seems intent on ensuring that the Allied War Veterans Council’s reputation undergo no improvements among those who wanted so badly to credit it with achieving compromise. Political leaders, who after decades of boycotting the event, marched in it this year, expressed some disgust. Mayor Walsh called the column “childish.” How it impacts next year’s parade, and whether rainbow-wielding gay groups can gain inclusion through means other than “subterfuge,” we can only guess. But it seems that on an issue that became as entrenched as this one, a detente may come in fits and starts.