While LGBTQ folks and allies are preparing for the inclusive St. Pat’s for All festivities in Queens, the city is facing pressure to pull all public funds from the March 6 Staten Island St. Patrick’s Day Parade due to the ongoing exclusion of queer groups.
The Pride Center of Staten Island, backed by dozens of LGBTQ leaders and allies, issued a public letter calling on the city to avoid using any taxpayer dollars for the Staten Island St. Patrick’s Day Parade as long queer groups are banned from participating.
The letter comes after LGBTQ organizations were turned away yet again last month when they sought to register for the Staten Island St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Larry Cummings, the parade’s organizer, has continued to reject queer groups ranging from the Pride Center of Staten Island to the Gay Officers Action League and the firefighter and EMS group known as FireFlag.
The Staten Island Pride Center claims that the Ancient Order of Hibernians, an Irish Catholic fraternal group, organizes the borough’s event. The New York State Board of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, however, told Gay City news in 2020 that the parade “is not sponsored or affiliated with the AOH.”
Regardless of the organizer behind the event, advocates do not want taxpayers dollars contributing to it.
“Even in 2022, members of the LGBTQ+ community are continuing to have our identities swept under the rug and prevented from enjoying the same privileges as our straight counterparts,” Queens Councilmember Lynn Schulman said in a written statement. “It is disheartening that the Staten Island St. Patrick’s Day Parade organizers have decided to exclude some of their neighbors and community members in an event that should be open to all.”
Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, City Comptroller Brad Lander, Brooklyn Councilmember Crystal Hudson, Queens District Leaders Émilia Decaudin and Melissa Sklarz, Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club president Allen Roskoff, Stonewall Democratic Club of New York City president Justin Sanchez, and Lambda Independent Democrats co-presidents Derek Gaskill and Nicholas Tamborra also signed the letter.
A spokesperson for Mayor Eric Adams would not say whether the city would pull funds for the Staten Island event, but vowed not to participate as long as queer groups are banned.
“Throughout his career, Mayor Adams has stood and fought alongside the LGBTQ+ community, and his administration will continue that practice by serving all New Yorkers equally and fairly,” the mayor’s press secretary, Fabien Levy, said in a written statement. “We are still hopeful that the organizers of the Staten Island St. Patrick’s Day Parade will see the need for inclusion in our celebrations of cultural heritage and allow members of the LGBTQ+ community to participate. Until that time, the mayor will not participate in the parade.”
While the controversy rages on in Staten Island, the community is bracing for the return of the St. Pat’s for All Parade on the same day in Sunnyside and Woodside, Queens. The St. Pat’s for All event, which was founded in 2000, offers an opportunity for LGBTQ folks and allies to join together in an accepting environment.
This year’s event will commemorate the late Tarlach MacNiallais, an Irish immigrant and LGBTQ activist who made a mark in New York City for three daces before dying of COVID complications in April of 2020.
St. Pat’s for All founder Brendan Fay is stepping down from his role in the event and co-chair Kathleen Walsh D’Arcy will spearhead this year’s festivities. According to organizers, Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, State Senator Jessica Ramos, Borough President Donovan Richards, Governor Kathy Hochul, and Mayor Eric Adams are expected to attend.
LGBTQ groups slated to join the event include the LGBT Network, Dignity New York, and the Stonewall Democratic Club, among others.
The St. Pat’s for All Parade will begin at 43rd and Skillman Avenue at noon on March 6.