After years of exclusion, Staten Island will host LGBTQ-friendly St. Patrick’s Day parade

Author: Ryan Adamczeski

Organizers have excluded local LGBTQ+ groups from the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade on Staten Island for decades. Despite a ban on queer organizations being lifted in 2014, those behind the celebration have refused to change their tune to this day.

For the first time, the city is responding by hosting a second parade, which will welcome LGBTQ+ delegations and their employees. New York City mayor Eric Adams’ office announced in a statement via The New York Times that the new parade, dubbed the Forest Avenue St. Patrick’s Day Parade, will be held on March 17, organized by the nonprofit Staten Island Business Outreach Center.

“Celebrations in our city should be welcoming and inclusive,” said spokesperson Kayla Mamelak. “Everyone interested — regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, race or beliefs — will be welcome to march together.”

Since being elected to the office of mayor, Adams has boycotted the Staten Island parade over its exclusion of LGBTQ+ groups, alongside the state’s Democratic legislators and many Republicans. His predecessor, Bill de Blasio, also boycotted the parade while in office.

The decision to exclude LGBTQ+ groups has fallen largely on just one person, main organizer Larry Cummings. He told New York-based newspaper The Irish Voice in 2018 that the parade “is not a political or sexual identification parade” and that “gays can march, but not under a banner.”

The Staten Island St. Patrick’s Day Parade is one of the only parades to exclude LGBTQ+ groups from marching. The New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Manhattan, which will take place on March 16 this year, ended its two-decade ban on LGBTQ+ groups in 2014. For the first time in 2022, the Bronx’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade allowed an LGBTQ+ group to march openly.

Executive director of the Pride Center of Staten Island, Carol Bullock, who previously spoke out about her group being denied entry to the parade for four years in a row, told The Times that when the organizers invited her group to participate, she responded: “Heck yeah.”

“I am so happy we have taken this parade back for the Staten Island community,” she said. “I am finally going to march down Forest Avenue with my staff, my board, our supporters and our banner and celebrate our Irish heritage.”

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Original Article on The Advocate
Author: Ryan Adamczeski

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