By Ray O’Hanlon
The announcement that a gay marching group comprised of NBC employees will be allowed to march in the 2015 New York St. Patrick’s Day Parade has been welcomed by the Irish gay group Irish Queers.
But only to a degree.
The group, which has mounted a protest on Fifth Avenue during the parade for a number of years, has described the parade committee’s decision as a “small victory” but vowed to continue its fight to have an Irish gay group in the line of march.
Said Irish Queers in a statement: “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, Mayor de Blasio and others, 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 applications 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.”