By Patrick Markey
With St. Patrick’s Day drawing near, New York’s Irish gay and lesbian groups are stepping up their perennial campaign for inclusion in parades around the city, working through official channels, and also through meetings with local march organizers.
Last weekend, as part of their battle for inclusion, representatives of the Lavender and Green Alliance went to meet with organizers of the Brooklyn St. Patrick’s Day Parade at the committee’s installation for its grand marshal.
"We think it’s time to heal this divisive issue and make it a more inclusive celebration," said alliance representative Brendan Fay, who along with two other members tried to deliver a letter to Kathleen McDonagh, the parade chairperson.
"The reaction was one of caution and fear and concern. But these are steps to set up a dialogue," Fay said.
The letter was an invitation to attend the Alliance’s St. Patrick’s event in early March and an attempt to find some resolve for the issue, Fay said.
Sign up to The Irish Echo Newsletter
But McDonagh was less certain about the weekend meeting.
When asked whether she had spoken to Fay’s delegation at the installation, she said she had not. And as to the letter? "They may have given it to somebody at the dance. I don’t know," she said.
Fay said the Alliance is also trying to undermine arguments that it is excluded because of its members’ lifestyle choices have no place in a Catholic parade by working with the Catholic Coalition of Gay and Lesbian Ministries.
This week, the New York Police Department also rejected the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization’s application for a permit to hold a pre-parade demonstration on Fifth Avenue on St. Patrick’s Day, an ILGO spokesman said. This is the eighth year ILGO has been refused permission to protest its exclusion from New York’s Fifth Avenue parade.
"They offered a moving picket on the sidewalk, which is our constitutional right, so they have offered nothing at all," the spokesman said.