New York street to be named after Belfast-born LGBTQ+ activist Tarlach Mac Niallais

Tarlach Mac Niallais, from North Belfast, will have a street named after him in New York where he has become a prominent gay rights campaigner.

Tarlach Mac Niallais and American politician Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Image: Twitter @CaraFriendNI

Born with the name Terry Nellis, Tarlach Mac Niallais moved from his home in the Newington area to the USA in the ’80s, and in a fortnight he will have a New York street named after him in the borough of Queens.

The honour comes as a result of his prolific work as an LGBTQ+ activist and will come to fruition on Friday, December 3, when the street in question will officially be dubbed ‘Tarlach Mac Niallais Way’.

Tarlach sadly died from Covid in April 2020, but the ceremonial unveiling of the new street name will be attended by his husband Juan Nepomuceno, sister Marie Burns, brother-in-law Seanie Burns, nephew Gary Nellis and Gary’s wife, Natalie Nellis.

Brendan Nellis, brother of the lifelong campaigner, spoke to Irish News about the occasion and what it means to Tarlach’s loved ones.

“The family are very honoured,” Brendan said, “He was part of what was known as the Lavender and Green Alliance (which celebrates Irish lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender culture and identity) which formed in 1990.

“Since then they had agitated for legal participation in the New York St Patrick’s Day parade. That came into being in March 2016 after more than 25 years of struggle.

“That was a fantastic event. Me and my wife Patricia went over to join it. It was a really, really emotional time because whereas before they (LGBT people who took part in the parade) were stopped, ridiculed and chastised, this time there were huge crowds who cheered them on to Fifth Avenue.”

He went on to say, “Since then they have now been officially allowed to walk in the St Patrick’s Day parade. Terry was one of the stewards for the Lavender and Green Alliance. He was a strong man with a big voice. He was asked the following year to be a full marshal for the big parade.”

As well as Tarlach’s work for the LGBTQ+ community, he was also a social work manager on a project for people with learning difficulties. Brendan described the 57 year-old activist as a “leader” and very deserving of the honour.

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