LGBTQ groups in Staten Island, New York, held alternative St. Patrick’s Day events this week after again being denied admission to the borough’s holiday parade.
The Staten Island PRIDE center hosted a celebration of Irish heritage last weekend during which gay activist Brendan Fay spoke about his efforts to open up the city’s St. Patrick’s Day parades to LGBTQ marchers. SILive.com reported:
“In the 90s, Fay formed an Irish LGBT group called Irish Gay Lesbian (IGL), and they sought to be included in the 5th Avenue parade and inclusion. The answer was always the same: their sexuality went against the Catholic religion. . .
“‘What truly made a turning point was in March of 1991, when Mayor Dinkins, I will never forget, stepped back from the place of honor that is traditionally held by the mayor, who usually leads the parade. He did that in support of IGL,’ said Fay. ‘I will never forget that. That, to me, was my coming out day, where I came out Irish, Catholic, and gay. I was proud of all those pieces of who I was.'”
But for years afterwards, LGBTQ marchers were still denied a place in the Manhattan parade until 2014. As Bondings 2.0 previously reported, organizers of Staten Island’s parade continue to reject LGBTQ groups.
To seek redress for this denial, LGBTQ advocates held a press conference ahead of Sunday’s parade that sought restrictions by the local government on its involvement with the event. SILive.com reported:
“[Advocates] called on city officials to halt public funding allocated for city workers to man the event until LGBTQ+ groups are allowed to march in the parade.
“‘It is far beyond time that a group of small-minded men stop having power over one of our biggest cultural events on Staten Island,’ shouted KC Hankins, head organizer of Rainbow Run Staten Island, during a press conference Sunday on Forest Avenue. ‘And if these men will not step aside, it’s time for New York City to stop giving public dollars to this parade.’
“‘Issuing a permit to an organization that has consistently discriminated against LGBTQ+ groups is unacceptable,’ said the activists in a written statement.”
The press conference was followed by a Rainbow Run and then many people attended the parade itself, but with rainbow flags and pro-LGBTQ signs. After the parade, some questioned why an anti-abortion group was allowed to march if the prohibition on LGBTQ groups was justified by a ban on political groups and messaging.
Notably, many New York City officials refused to march in the Staten Island parade, including Mayor Eric Adams, whose spokesperson said he would not participate until LGBTQ people are welcome, LGBTQ Nation reported.
But despite the setback again this year, advocates like Brendan Fay remain undeterred. He commented:
“‘I am always a person of hope. I believe that day will come like the other boroughs. The day will come that the PRIDE center here on Staten Island will be welcomed to march in the Staten Island St. Patrick’s parade with both pride and Irish flags.'”
—Robert Shine (he/him), New Ways Ministry, March 17, 2022