Niall O'Dowd even chided de Blasio for not trying the same trick, rather than staying away. ("De Blasio had the perfect out on the parade, one that his predecessor Michael Bloomberg took – march in the Irish gay parade a couple of weekends before March 17, and then on Fifth Avenue on the day itself. Everyone saved face with this solution..." Seriously??)
In their effort to model inclusivity, one supposes, the Queens parade organizers never challenged them on that shady move. But a number of Queens parade-goers, including some local press, told us this year that they'd never known the Fifth Ave parade excluded queers. The connection between the two (enjoyment of small inclusive parade and protest of huge parade of homophobia) has gotten a bit buried under the "nice."
Irish Queers felt like we had things to celebrate this year, so we marched in the Queens parade as a "Unicorns, not uniforms! NYPD out of anti-gay parades!" contigent. It was super fun!
A few things happened. History is made in the doing.
1. Reporters asked us the questions we used to have to ask them! Like "DeBlasio is boycotting, but you're saying that's not enough, he should remove unformed police and firefighters from the parade, right?" Thanks for that moment of joy, NY1. (It's not in the transcript, but it's in the video piece they posted, here.)
2. Crowds cheered madly from the sidelines as we passed with signs saying "Irish AND queer" and "Take it off! No City uniforms in anti-gay parades!" In past years, the crowd was so disconnected from protest that they sometimes looked at Irish Queers flyers like they called for a ban on sunshine and chocolate.
3. More than once, a St Pats for All organizer literally tried to shove Irish Queers out of view of cameras, and physically pull reporters away from conversations with us. Just for the record.
4. Some St Pats for All organizers were welcoming and really supportive of Irish Queers' presence and the call to protest on Fifth Avenue. Just for the record!
5. The Rude Mechanical Orchestra made our day, as always. Music on the march is so fab, rebel music even better, and the occasional song that features chants about your own work is the absolute tops!!!