Representatives from multiple LGBT+ organisations have learned that LGBT+ groups are not welcome in this year’s St Patrick’s Day Parade in Staten Island.
Carol Bullock, a representative of Pride Center in Staten Island, and Brendan Fay, the founder of the Lavender and Green Alliance, were applying for a spot on February 18 at the Blessed Sacrament Church, when they were told they were not welcome.
Bullock and Fay were told by the director of the parade, Larry Cummings, that allowing LGBT groups was against the rules, as “it’s not compatible with the church and the Catholic tenets,”. This decision is occurring due to a vote in favour of a ban from organisers in 2017.
“Our parade is for Irish heritage and culture. It is not a political or sexual identification parade,” Cummings told Irish Central Voice. He added, “The committee voted so that’s that. Those are the rules. Gays can march, but not under a banner.”
Bullock and Fay have also alleged that Cummings told them that even if Leo Varadkar displayed any visual association with LGBT identity, he would not be allowed to march.
Many LGBT+ groups in the New York City borough were hopeful to take part after Manhattan’s St Patricks Day Parade lifted its long-standing ban on queer groups in 2014.
“All we asked was for our Pride Center to march like every other community group – with our banner which has the Pride Center logo and reads Pride Center of Staten Island. Our First Amendment, free-speech rights, as well as our desire to march as Irish members of the LBGTQ community are once again denied,” Bullock said in a statement to media.
“The exclusion of the Pride Center of Staten Island from the St Patrick’s Parade is wrong. Irish people are known for our spirit of hospitality,” Fay added. “A cultural event in honour of the Irish and St Patrick himself, a refugee and immigrant ought to be welcoming and inclusive.”
Cummings was in no way influenced by the actions of the Manhattan march group, he told Irish Central Voice, “The Fifth Avenue parade has no bearing on Staten Island. They are two totally separate entities. We don’t worry about what goes on in Manhattan.”
For Bullock, Cummings refusal to include LGBT+ groups is a clear case of bias and an example of the homophobia encountered by the community on a daily basis.
“The refusal to allow us to march is an example of the daily struggles and homophobia faced by our community,” she said. “The Pride Center of Staten Island is the cornerstone for Staten Island’s LGBTQ individuals, families, and allies. There are nearly 500,000 people living on Staten Island and the Center is the Island’s only comprehensive LGBTQ program and service provider.”
© 2018 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.