According to parade organizer Brendan Fay, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said that he will attend the parade, although the mayor’s office did not confirm this at press time.
Bloomberg already suggested in 2002 that he would not attend the main Fifth Avenue parade on March 17 because it continues to exclude a gay and lesbian contingent.
The parade’s theme this year will be in memory of the Irish-American antiwar protestor Philip Berrigan, who died in late 2002.
Once again the parade will feature a variety of cultures and music in keeping with its inclusive spirit.
Bloomberg boycotted the Italian-American parade on Columbus Day in October last year and went to an Italian restaurant in the Bronx after organizers refused to let him march with his guests, two actors from the “Sopranos,” because they said the hit TV show presents a negative image of Italian Americans.
In response to the Columbus Day incident, Irish gay groups, including Irish Queers, ILGO and the Lavender and Green Alliance, held a protest at City Hall on Monday with openly gay elected officials, asking if the mayor would apply the same criteria to the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade, from which gays and lesbians are banned for marching openly.
Bloomberg then spoke to reporters about his St. Patrick’s Day intentions for 2003, and said: “I don’t think that any of the censorship or discrimination makes any sense . . . but if the parade organizers found whoever I choose to invite next March . . . unacceptable, I would go have dinner in an Irish pub instead of an Italian restaurant.”
Just as the Fifth Avenue parade on March 17 attracts Irish gay and lesbian protestors angry about being excluded from the march, each year the parade in Queens has been the target of protestors describing it as immoral.