Statement: Still here, still queer, still Irish; and applying to march.

(Photo: Donna Aceto, Gay City News 9/9/14)

Sept. 9, 2014

Last week we learned that the NYC St. Patrick's Day parade made a backroom deal to invite OUT@NBC Universal, a gay marketing group, to march in the 2015 parade. Today, Irish Queers are applying to march in the 2015 St. Patrick’s Parade, along with Lavender and Green Alliance and St. Pat’s for All.

It’s no secret that parade organizers don’t want to admit that Irish LGBT people are part of the Irish community; and that they use their control over the parade permit to keep us out. Two decades of calls from Ireland and NYC to end the bigotry have not changed the parade committee’s minds.

They’re under pressure now, but they haven’t changed their tune. 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 were lifted. So OUT@NBC offered itself as a painless solution. Gay corporate staff can march (under a banner that doesn’t say the word “gay”), NBC saves face, and the parade keeps NBC’s sponsorship – without doing a thing to end the exclusion of Irish LGBT groups.

Parade organizers have said in the press that Irish LGBT groups “can apply to march in future years” and that inviting NBC’s gays is “a gesture of goodwill.” This is an unwelcome bit of Irish nostalgia. ILGO was also told by parade organizers in the early 1990s to "apply to march." The organizers pretended ILGO was on a waiting list because the parade was too long, and made excuses for refusing our application that were uncovered later in court.

Now, less than a week since their “gesture of goodwill”, the parade committee is saying they can’t entertain our application because they’re “under pressure to shorten the parade.” ARE. YOU. SERIOUS.

We’re submitting our application today. And we’re calling on OUT@NBC Universal to refuse to march until Irish LGBT groups march in the Irish parade, under our own banners. We call on OUT@NBC not to be pawns in this triangulation of homophobia, money, and PR.

We want to march up Fifth Avenue as an Irish diaspora that has finally joined Ireland in rejecting religion-fueled bigotry. Let Irish queer groups finally take our place in this year's parade.