Gay activists protest St. Patrick’s Day Parade ban

Protest led by the group Irish Queers at the St. Patrick's Day parade.
Protest led by the group Irish Queers at the St. Patrick’s Day parade.


— As the St. Patrick’s Day Parade made its way down Fifth Avenue Monday, members of the Irish Queers lined up along the route between 56th and 57th Street to protest because the parade’s organizers would not let them participate.

“I’m a gay man. I’m an Irish man,” said activist Brendan Fay, 55, organizer of the alternative St. Pat’s for All Parade in Queens, which took place two weeks ago. “And I’m here on Fifth Avenue, of course, excluded from the largest Irish celebration in the world.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio, who marched in Queens, did not participate in Monday’s parade on Fifth Avenue, the first time a mayor of New York did not march since 1991, because of the parade ban on gay and lesbian groups. LGBT activists hailed the mayor’s gesture—and pushed for the city’s police and fire departments to not participate either.  The city agencies, however, marched and that’s why the Irish Queers and other activists protested along the sidelines of Monday’s parade.

“We’re glad that the mayor is not marching,” said Emmaia Gelman, 39, an organizer of Irish Queers, the Friday before the parade.

The Rude Mechanical Orchestra, a six-member marching band, accompanied the protesters with drums and wind instruments, while the latter cried slogans such as “Cops out, queers in.”

The parade is considered to be private, even though it is conducted through one of Manhattan’s most iconic avenues. Thousands of onlookers watch the parade each year.

Not all gay groups joined the protest. The Gay Officers Action League of New York was not present, for example. Detective Carl Locke, president of the league, said that he supports other people’s decision to march.

“I could march on Monday but I would have to march on the police contingent,” said Locke, the Friday before the parade. “Of course, we would like to march in this parade with our banner.”


Saint Patrick’s Day parade protest from Camilo Gomez on Vimeo.


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