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What is the lesson behind banning the gay community from the St. Patrick's Day parade in New York? Photo by: Getty

NYC St. Patrick's gay ban: deny others' humanity and diminish your own

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What is the lesson behind banning the gay community from the St. Patrick's Day parade in New York? Photo by: Getty

The lesson was that invisibility makes you powerless. Invisibility robs you of your voice and it can even get you killed. Just look at Russia or Nigeria or Uganda to see the work legally enforced invisibility can do. 

And as the stalemate deepens here the world moves on. It will come as a terrific surprise to the organizers of the Saint Patrick's Day Parade in New York City that a drag queen called Panti Bliss is seriously in the running to become the grand marshal of the Dublin parade.

It will surprise them to know that the Irish gay groups have long participated and won the best float in the parade a few years ago. Despite conservative protests, what gay people do – or don't do – in the bedroom is their own business. It has never been the issue. It's the legal rights we grant – or deny them –  because they are gay that is their business and everybody's business, frankly.

I have been personally shocked by the deep contempt that's unleashed by some within the Irish community over Irish gay groups. I wonder at the intensity of it. Don't people realize that it could be your own kids that your blackguarding? Or your neighbor's kids? Or your niece or your nephew? The thing about poison is that it's indiscriminate. 

Is this hard, cold message of exclusion the message that you'll send them all your lives? If it is, can you be surprised when others treat them badly, or violently, or discriminate against them, or bully them or silence them with their fists?

'It is a terrible, an inexorable law that one cannot deny the humanity of another without diminishing one's own,' James Baldwin wisely wrote.

We are all diminished by this cold house that offers no word of welcome to our gay and Irish friends and relations; we have been keeping it for far too long.

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