Since 1991, Irish gays and lesbians have unsuccessfully pressed the organizers of the monster St. Patrick's Day Parade on Fifth Avenue to allow them to march openly.
That year, a contingent of out gay and lesbian marchers participated under Mayor David Dinkins' banner, and their appearance unleashed a torrent of abusive taunts from some in the parade and the crowd — much of it homophobic and racist — and a few tossed beer bottles.
In the intervening years, protesters have annually demonstrated against the exclusionary policy, though the civil disobedience of past parades, which included the arrest of Irish LGBT leaders who are now elected officials — such as State Senator Thomas Duane and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn — for attempting to step out into Fifth Avenue in a counter-march, has given way to more sedate pickets.
This year on March 17, about four dozen protesters affiliated with Irish Queers gathered at 57th Street and Fifth Avenue to express their anger at the AOH policy. The LGBT picketers were greeted at times with taunts and jeers from some marchers and others in the crowd.
Many elected officials have routinely boycotted the parade in solidarity with the excluded LGBT marchers, but some prominent leaders, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Senator Charles Schumer, and former Mayor Rudy Giuliani have participated, even as they have voiced disagreement with the AOH policy.