BY GAY CITY NEWS STAFF | Once again, the issue of inclusiveness for everyone hoping to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day divided the massive Ancient Order of Hibernian parade that travels up Fifth Avenue in Manhattan every March 17 from a smaller but no less spirited event held in Sunnyside and Woodside, Queens, the St. Pat’s For All Parade, held on March 7.
In Queens, the march was led by a group of elected officials and community leaders including (lead picture) grand marshal Daniel Dromm, an out gay City Council member (who shared the honor with Mary Lanning), out lesbian City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, march organizer Brendan Fay, Lieutenant Dan Choi, an Iraq War veteran discharged under the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy earlier this year after he came out publicly, Queens Democratic district leader Deirdre Feerick, and (towering above the crowd in the background) city Public Advocate Bill de Blasio.
The St. Patrick's Day East River Divide Lives On
Among marchers from all cultural backgrounds, tradition did get a nod with a bagpipe corps and a contingent of Irish language speakers, two of many Gaelic groups on hand.
In Manhattan this week, neither Raymond Kelly, the police commissioner who served as grand marshal for the 249th annual Ancient Order of Hibernians event, nor New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan were willing to speak specifically in response to Gay City News reporter Andy Humm’s questions about the AOH’s policy, dating back two decades, of excluding openly gay marchers.
Emmaia Gelman of Irish Queers told Humm that the 50 LGBT and allied demonstrators who turned out to protest along Fifth Avenue represented a larger group than last year. In a release, Irish Queers pledged to sue to bar police and fire department personnel from marching in uniform, stating that their presence in a discriminatory event is contrary to city law.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, as he has in past years, tried to have it both ways — marching in the inclusive Queens parade one week and the exclusionary Manhattan affair the next.
Newsday reports that Steve Levy, the Suffolk County Executive who abandoned the Democratic Party on March 18 to run for governor, marched, but ran into the AOH policy that bans signs — a rule the group has used for years to exclude marchers showing any indication of being gay.