An LGBT+ group in the US is hosting its own St Patrick’s Dance after being banned from marching under its own banner in the annual parade.
The Pride Centre of Staten Island was told that gay groups were not allowed to participate in the parade, which took place on March 1. As a result, they organised a dance this Saturday for the LGBT+ community and its allies.
Jim Smith, one of the dance’s organisers, said the ban was very painful. “We’re doing our own event. I want to make it a welcoming event for the Island’s gay and lesbian population,” he told Silive.com.
In the past, LGBT+ groups have been barred from St Patrick’s Day parades across New York state. For over 20 years LGBT+ groups were banned from the largest St Patrick’s Day parade in the world – New York City – until that was overturned in 2014.
Staten Island remains one of the few places which has kept the ban in place. It’s the least populous borough in the city and also one of the most conservative. Only a few weeks ago that they also banned Miss Staten Island 2020, Madison L’Insalata, after she publically came out as bisexual. L’Insalata will be one of the attendees at the alternative dance event.
Miss Richmond County 2020, Gabby Ryan, is also set to make an appearance at the dance. Ryan has two mothers and refused to march in the parade earlier this month in solidarity with them.
“We want to make a statement. The statement is we’re here, we’re queer and we ain’t moving to Manhattan,” she said. “The [LGBT+] community is thriving. There’s more gay people than people could imagine and we’re trying to reach out to them.”
The Pride Center is pleased to share this event honoring Teri Russo's 80th Birthday!!! pic.twitter.com/y4VveJJklP
— Pride Center of SI (@pridecenterSI) March 3, 2020
It’s not just members of the LGBT+ community who have distanced themselves from the annual parade though. Politicians from the two main political parties in the US decided not to participate. Even the Catholic church has taken a stance. Joseph Zwilling, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of New York, told The New York Times that any priests who attend: “will do so on their own, not as officials of the archdiocese.”
President of the Staten Island parade committee Larry Cummings told a New York newspaper, The Irish Voice, why gay groups were banned from marching. “Our parade is for Irish heritage and culture,” he said. “It is not a political or sexual identification parade.” He added that: “Gays can march, but not under a banner.”
The dance itself will honour Teri Russo, an activist and the first woman to be Grand Marshal of Staten Island Gay Pride Parade.
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