A coalition of New York’s Irish LGBTQ organizations officially submitted their application to march in the 2015 New York City Saint Patrick’s Day Parade yesterday morning.
The coalitions signed up as a largely symbolic gesture, as they are accusing parade organizers of allowing only one LGBTQ group to march. The groups continue to call for a boycott and protest of the event.
For more than 20 years, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade has faced vocal protest from LGBTQ activist groups including Irish Queers, which has led to major sponsors such as Guinness and Heineken to pull out and has drawn condemnations from the Irish government and Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Office.
Last Wednesday, the parade committee admitted [email protected], an LGBTQ support group from parade sponsor NBC, to the parade’s roster, but has not allowed other LGBTQ groups to march.
In response to limiting the number of LGBTQ participants in the parade, a coalition of activist organizations headed by Irish Queers, the Lavender and Green Alliance and St. Pat’s for All, submitted their parade applications yesterday. Members of Irish Queers like doctoral candidate Emmaia Gelman allege that the parade committee has continued to refuse the admission of LGBTQ groups from open participation in the parade and called the admission of OUT a token gesture.
“When Guinness, Heineken and elected officials dropped out of the parade last year, NBC told the parade committee they couldn’t keep sponsoring unless the anti-gay ban was lifted,” Gelman said. “So [email protected] offered itself as a painless solution. NBC saves face and the parade keeps NBC’s sponsorship — without doing a thing to end the exclusion of Irish LGBT groups.”
Ann Northrop, host of the TV show “Gay USA,” said the issues remain with the actions of parade organizers.
“I’m appalled that the parade organizers and NBC are trying to pull a ‘fast one’ in putting the ‘un-gay’ NBC employee gay group in the parade,” Northrop said. “The Irish LGBTQ community deserves a place in the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade and should be allowed to march and the NBC LGBTQ group should pull out of the parade until that happens.”
Following the Irish Queer group’s decision to apply directly to the parade for the first time in years, Gelman said the parade organizers gave them more excuses.
“John Lahey, who’s on the board of the parade from Quinnipiac University, gave the kicker: ‘We couldn’t possibly entertain their applications, as we’re under pressure to shorten the parade,’” Gelman said.
Fellow coalition speaker J.F. Mulligan added that these are the same kinds of responses that Irish LGBTQ groups have received for the past 25 years.
“These were the same excuses they used during the Dinkins administration,” Mulligan said.
A version of this article appeared in the Wednesday, Sept. 10 print edition. Email Rahul Krishnamoorthy at [email protected]