The Pride Center of Staten Island has once again been denied permission to march in Staten Island’s annual St. Patrick’s Day parade. The Center has been persistent in its efforts to be included in this community march, though they have been met with the same rejection as in previous years.
According to Spectrum News NY 1, executive director Carol Bullock and other Center members attempted to apply for the permit to march. But when they reached the parade’s registration location, they were met with a disparaging sign reading:
“Do [sic] to the threat of a protest by the gay pride people/politicians/and ministers of other faiths on the holy grounds of Blessed Sacrament Church the parade must move the parade sign ups to 300 Marod Rd.” [emphasis by sign author]
Upon traveling to the second location Bullock met with Parade President Larry Cummings, who denied the group permission to march, citing that the St. Patrick’s Day parade is “not a sexual identification parade.” According to Gay City News, Bullock reported that the Gay Officer’s Action League, a group for LGBTQ law enforcement personnel, was also denied. Bullock reflected that the rejection is a loss for the community and a loss for LGBTQ youth:
“It’s disappointing. It sends a terrible message, especially to the youth who are thinking of coming out and celebrating who they are. This is the type of thing they’ll be facing. It’s sad and frustrating.”
Bullock urges people who want to support the LGBTQ community to rethink marching in the parade themselves. “This year I’m just asking people to still go and visit amazing bars and restaurants,” she said, “just don’t march in the parade.”
The Staten Island St. Patrick’s Day parade is one of the last parades to ban LGBTQ groups. The decades-long fight for inclusion in Manhattan’s St. Patrick’s Day parade ended in 2015 when NBCUniversal marched with 100 LGBTQ and ally employees. The following year, the Lavender & Green Alliance, a group for LGBTQ Irish-Americans, marched in the parade. Another northeastern city, Boston, has allowed LGBTQ groups to march in recent years (though not without controversy).
Several lawmakers and elected officials have publicly supported the Pride Center. Spectrum News reports that Borough President James Oddo, Congressman Max Rose, and City Councilwoman Debi Rose will be skipping the parade in solidarity. Gay City News reports that even some politicians with a poor voting record on LGBTQ issues have voiced their support, including Staten Island GOP Councilmember Steven Matteo, who said in a written statement:
“I strongly support the SI Pride Center and other LGBT organizations openly participating in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. It’s way past time for this to become a reality.”
New Ways Ministry agrees.
—Melissa Feito, New Ways Ministry, February 21, 2020