A Lavender and Green Parade for NYC

Mayor Bill de Blasio and the First Lady of New York City Chirlane McCray march with the Lavender and Green Alliance in the St. Patrick's Day Parade on Fifth Avenue in New York on Thursday, March 17, 2016. Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office

By Áine Mc Manamon, Advertising and Editorial Assistant
April / May 2016

The New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade this year added two first-time marchers to the roster: The Lavender and Green Alliance, a group of LGBT Irish, and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who had boycotted the parade since he first took office until it became inclusive for gay and lesbian groups.

Brendan Fay, who founded this Irish LGBT organization in 1994, made an announcement in September of last year on their Facebook page stating, “We celebrate the welcome! March 17 2016 will be a day for hospitality and inclusion.” Since 2000, the Alliance has organized a separate parade in Queens called St. Pat’s for All, as an inclusive alternative to the Manhattan march, which will still continue.

In 2015, Out@NBCUniversal was the first LGBT organization that marched on St. Patrick’s Day. While this was progress, the group is not of Irish descent and some accused the parade of making a corporate deal with NBC, the parade’s broadcaster. Because the Lavender and Green Alliance was still barred from the parade, de Blasio boycotted for the second year in a row.

With their inclusion this year, Mayor de Blasio welcomed the change in parade policy to allow all LGBT groups and ended his boycott. After starting out in the parade with members of the New York’s uniformed services, he later joined in with The Lavender and Green Alliance.

At an event in the Irish Consulate, the Mayor said, “For the last two decades there’s been a blemish on this city…it was a long, long road, but it’s something we can now put behind us because unity has been achieved.” He also thanked Cardinal Dolan and Pope Francis for their support. In relation to Pope Francis, de Blasio continued by saying, “People have felt his message and that is one of the reasons we are here today,” as the Pope is known for asking who is he to judge gay people.

Also at the Consulate, Daniel Drumm, a city councilman, accompanied the speakers and while describing the struggle of the LGBT community over the years, he briefly choked up. “There were many times when we wanted to give up and we wondered if we would ever see this day,” he said.

Frank McGreal spoke on behalf of the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee and gave Mr. Fay a very warm welcome: “To Brendan Fay and the Lavender and Green Alliance, I say, ‘Céad míle fáilte! One hundred thousand welcomes.’” ♦

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