Irish Queers -- along with the scores of LGBT individuals, groups, and allies who have fought since 1991 for a parade that includes the whole Irish community -- is learning about the change in the NYC St Patrick's Day parade at the same time as the rest of New York City and the Irish community. We welcome this cracking of the veneer of hate, but so far Irish LGBT groups are still not able to march in our community's parades. The fight continues.
This is a deal that was made behind closed doors between parade organizers and one of their last remaining sponsors, NBC. It allows NBC's gay employees to march, but embarrassingly has not ended the exclusion of Irish LGBT groups. The parade organizers have said, astoundingly, that we "can apply" in years to come.
To the extent that parade organizers have changed their tune, it's the result of Irish Queers' many years of organizing, which led to last year's refusal to march by Council Speaker Mark-Viverito and others, and Mayor de Blasio, the withdrawal of major corporate sponsors and escalating criticism of uniformed city workers marching in the Parade.
We welcome this small victory, but our call remains the same -- the parade must be open to Irish LGBT groups, not "in subsequent years" but now. (We remember too well how parade organizers used fake waiting lists to bury our appications before.)
The Irish community in Ireland and abroad is far more progressive than the parade committee, having abandoned the secretive power-mongering of the days when the Catholic Church held sway over politics. We still hope NYC will catch up. This has been a long, long journey and struggle. It is time for Irish LGBT people, marching under our own banner, to take our rightful place in the St. Patrick's Day Parade.
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