First gay group marches in NYC St. Patrick’s Day parade, protests seek more

By Sebastien Malo
Mar 17, 2015

Protestors demonstrate advocating for the inclusion of gay marchers in the 254th New York City St. Patrick's Day parade as parade marchers make their way up 5th Avenue in the Manhattan Borough of New York, March 17, 2015. REUTERS-Mike Segar

Protestors demonstrate advocating for the inclusion of gay marchers in the 254th New York City St. Patrick's Day parade as parade marchers make their way up 5th Avenue in the Manhattan Borough of New York, March 17, 2015. Credit: Reuters/Mike Segar

(Reuters) - Shamrocks and rainbow banners waved on Tuesday over the first openly gay group to march in New York City’s main St. Patrick’s Day parade, but gay rights advocates and elected officials called for greater inclusion in the event.

Organizers of the city's 254th parade to celebrate Irish heritage shifted their policy this year for the first time to allow Out@NBCUniversal, an organization of gay employees of NBCUniversal, the parade broadcaster, to march in the procession up Fifth Avenue.

But the change did not ease criticism by gay groups such as "Irish Queers," and the city's political establishment, Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who shunned the event that remained closed to other gay marchers.

"I will not be marching, but I look forward to progress in the future," said de Blasio, noting the parade, said by organizers to be the oldest and largest such event in the United States, was still not "open to folks who would like to participate who don't happen to work for NBC."

Two dozen protesters, some waving signs reading "Who said St. Patrick was straight?", rallied on the sidelines of the parade led by Roman Catholic Cardinal Timothy Dolan, this year's grand marshal.

"We demand no more than anyone else but the same as everybody else," said gay rights activist and organizer Allen Roskoff.

"New York City has changed ... But the St. Patrick's Day parade are Neanderthals, are bigots," Roskoff said, as protesters gathered under a green banner reading "Let Irish Gays Into Irish Parade" and a rainbow banner saying "Boycott Homophobia."

Thousands of revelers in green hats and shirts, some with beards dyed green, cheered as bagpipers and drummers marched by under cloudy skies. Among them were British tourists Robert Paton and his wife, Karen Richards, who said gays should be allowed to march.

"Tradition holds people back at times," said Paton, a firefighter wearing a small beer-holding leprechaun toy on his shoulder. "They should be allowed to march, definitely."

A handful of hecklers expressed their disagreement.

"St. Patrick is not gay!" shouted University of Albany student Nicky Bulbs, 21, as he walked past demonstrators.

Other cities outpacing New York in welcoming gay marchers include Washington and Boston, which this year lifted a longtime ban on lesbian, gay and transgender groups and included two homosexual rights groups. Organizers previously had insisted that homosexuality conflicted with Catholic doctrine.

(Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Mohammad Zargham)



  1. Hon. Eric Adams
  2. George Arzt
  3. Lance Bass
  4. John Blair
  5. Mark Benoit
  6. Hon. Rodneyse Bichotte
  7. Hon. Jonathan Bing
  8. Erik Bottcher
  9. Robin Byrd
  10. Hon. Gale Brewer
  11. Christian Campbell
  12. Gus Christensen
  13. Hon. Martin Connor
  14. Hon. Jon Cooper
  15. Wilson Cruz
  16. Hon. Laurie Cumbo
  17. Alan Cumming
  18. Valorie Curry
  19. Michael Czaczkes
  20. Hon. Bill de Blasio
  21. Jon Del Giorno
  22. Aries Dela Cruz
  23. Kyan Douglas
  24. Hon. Daniel Dromm
  25. James Duff
  26. Hon. Ronnie Eldridge
  27. Hon. Rafael Espinal
  28. Hon. Herman Farrell
  29. Hon. Alan Fleishman
  30. Hon. Dan Garodnick
  31. Dan Gettleman
  32. Jason Goldman
  33. Emily Jane Goodman
  34. Hon. Mark Green
  35. Tony Hoffmann
  36. Hon. Brad Hoylman
  37. Binn Jakupi
  38. Hon. Letitia James
  39. Hon. Corey Johnson
  40. Camille Joseph
  41. Phillip Keane
  42. Greg Lambert
  43. Dodge Landesman
  44. Phillip McCarthy
  45. Matt McMorrow
  46. Michael Mallon
  47. Mike C. Manning
  48. David Mansur
  49. Cathy Marino-Thomas
  50. Troy Masters
  51. Hon. Carlos Menchaca
  52. Hon. Rosie Mendez
  53. John Cameron Mitchell
  54. Donny Moss
  55. Barry Mullineaux
  56. Hon. Paul Newell
  57. Denis O'Hare
  58. Noah Pfefferbilt
  59. Josue Pierre
  60. Bob Pontarelli
  61. Billy Porter
  62. Hon. Keith Powers
  63. Randy Rainbow
  64. Hon. Jenifer Rajkumar
  65. Hon. Gustavo Rivera
  66. Hon. Helen Rosenthal
  67. Maer Roshan
  68. Toby Russo
  69. Bill Samuels
  70. James Sansum
  71. Scott Sartiano
  72. Hon. Arthur Schwartz
  73. Lynn Schulman
  74. Frank Selvaggi
  75. Rev. Al Sharpton
  76. Hon. Jo Anne Simon
  77. Tom Smith
  78. Anne Strahle
  79. Hon. Scott Stringer
  80. Wayne Sunday
  81. Hon. Bill Thompson
  82. JD Thompson
  83. Hon. Matt Titone
  84. Hon. Ritchie Torres
  85. Sam Underwood
  86. Jessica Walter
  87. Patricia Nell Warren
  88. Wil Weder
  89. Seth Weissman
  90. Mel Wymore
  91. Emma Wolfe
  92. Hon. Keith Wright
  93. Zephyr Teachout