Thinking of All the Danny Boys for St. Patrick’s Day [VIDEO]


I used to go to the grand St. Patrick’s Day Parade in New York. Not to party, but to feel proud. Outcast peasants had come to America a couple of meals away from starvation, been beaten down by violent Know Nothings who sought to extinguish their culture and stigmatize their identity. In three generations, the Irish in America had gone from being on the margins to being at the center of American life. Our saint had guided us to a new world we helped to create.

Twenty-five years ago some of us forgot that one in ten who came here were gay or lesbian Irish men and women. Just as my Irish ancestors helped to build America, so too did their LGBT brothers and sisters. When I was a boy, the Irish author Brendan Behan, who wrote about LGBT characters and was said to have been bisexual, was grand marshal of the big parade. A decade later his kind would not have been welcome.

Here is a version of Danny Boy from Black 47 that reminds us that when the Irish struggled for democracy in America, some of those fighting for justice liked to hang out in the West Village on the weekends.

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Patrick Young blogs daily for Long Island Wins. He is the Downstate Advocacy Director of the New York Immigration Coalition and Special Professor of Immigration Law at Hofstra School of Law. He served as the Director of Legal Services and Program at Central American Refugee Center (CARECEN) for three decades before retiring in 2019. Pat is also a student of immigration history and the author of The Immigrants' Civil War.

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