There Was a Beer Boycott of the St. Patrick’s Day Parades in Support of LGBT Rights Gina Vaynshteyn

Happy belated St. Patrick’s Day, everyone! I’m not one bit Irish, but I did wear green so that no one would touch (AKA “pinch”) me. I also made corned beef and cabbage because a) I love it and b) I would otherwise never use the Crock Pot my parents gave me.

There’s something universally jovial and exciting about St. Paddy’s Day, and it’s not just because of the green beer. Okay, maybe green beer plays a big role, but the holiday which honors the death of the most recognized patron saint of Ireland (Old St. Paddy) also encourages our communities to come together. This is why huge cities like New York and Boston host parades which allow for its people to celebrate and rejoice.  Since these organized events are meant to showcase diverse groups which congregate in the name of St. Patrick, it wasn’t a surprise when Sam Adams was the first beer brand to boycott it.

Both parade events in Boston and New York uphold the extremely archaic and ignorant belief that the LGBT community should not advertise their identity.  In Boston, the parade is organized by the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council, who are “not opposed to LGBT people, [they] just [don’t] allow sexual orientation to displayed.” Furthermore, they stated that if lesbian and gay veterans wanted to march along with the LGBT veterans group, they could if and only if they would not identify themselves as LGBT with signs or shirts.  That is, be yourself but don’t let anyone actually SEE yourself. 

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The Boston parade council justified their ludicrous decision by announcing, “It is our intention to keep this parade a family friendly event. We will not allow any group to damage the integrity of the historic event – or our reputation as a safe and fun filled day for all.” Apparently not being heterosexual is not appropriate for families, nor is it “safe” or “fun.” Good one, guys. You make your otherwise progressive cities look incredibly bigoted (and I’m not saying anyone who lives in Massachusetts or the state of New York is a bigot, but I want to emphasize how greatly these public events can negatively and disproportionately reflect upon their environments). 

As a result, Sam Adams (owned by Boston Beer Co) withdrew their sponsorship of the Boston parade. Since New York’s parade ordered similar requirements, Heineken and Guinness also pulled out.

The beer brands proudly indicated their beliefs are not parallel to the beliefs of the parade organizers.  Sam Adams pointed out, “We were hopeful an agreement could be reached to allow everyone, regardless of orientation, to participate in this parade. However, given the current status of the negotiations, this may not be possible.” The Guinness spokesperson also stated, “Guinness has a strong history of supporting diversity and being an advocate for equality for all. We were hopeful that the policy of exclusion would be reversed for this year’s parade. As this has not come to pass, Guinness has withdrawn its participation.” Even mayors Bill Blasio of New York and Martin Walsh of Boston boycotted the parades.

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It’s admirable that large brands like Sam Adams are passionate about human rights and understand the injustice of ostracizing people from an event they want to celebrate. It’s also extremely important that these companies publicly announce their decisions, because it shows the world that the backwards ideologies the New York and Boston parade organizers hold are not acceptable. 

We are a long way from becoming a completely tolerant and loving country, but I do believe we are slowly but surely getting there. Thank you, Sam Adams, Heineken, and Guinness, for bringing us that much closer to a kinder world.

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