From: newsweek.com

For NYC's St. Patrick's Parade, the Protests Don't End

By Victoria Bekiempis
March 17, 2015

CATy5X0XIAEsfs-
Protesters say the parade excludes LGBTs. Victoria Bekiempis

 

At the corner of Fifth Avenue and 56th Street, in front of the Prada store, a group called Irish Queers gathered late this morning to protest the New York City St. Patrick's Day Parade. Abercrombie & Fitch is also on that block, and cologne from the preppy clothier occasionally wafted onto the sidewalk amid chants of "Let gays march!" Demonstrators were rallying against the parade's policy on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) persons, as they have done for decades.

And yet for the first time since the parade began in 1762, an LGBT group, OUT@NBCUniversal, is marching openly. OUT@NBCUniversal is the media company's LGBT and straight ally employee group. The Irish Voice broke news of OUT@NBCUniversal's participation this fall and reported that NBC, which has broadcast the parade for years, “was prepared to drop its coverage unless a compromise that resulted in the inclusion of a gay group was brokered" with parade organizers.

For many of the city's LGBTs, especially those who are Irish, the development is more of disappointment than a milestone. They feel OUT@NBCUniversal's participation is a bait-and-switch and still excludes Irish gays. They're incensed because activists who have fought decades for LGBT inclusion weren't invited to participate, they say.  

Activists unfurled an emerald green banner with white lettering that read: "Let Irish Gays Into Irish Parade" as the procession began. Several others held another rectangular banner that read "Boycott Homophopbia!" over a rainbow background. "What would Jesus do? Let Irish Gays March Too!" a black-and-white poster asked and answered, while another questioned: "Who says St. Patrick was straight?"    

Allen Roskoff, a prominent gay rights activist president of the city's Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, publicly slammed parade leadership and Out@NBCUniversal at the protest.

"The parade organizers are clearly bigoted, closed minded, and living in another century," he told Newsweek. "They refuse to accept change and acceptance of people who are seemingly different from them."

Roskoff criticized OUT@NBCUniversal just as harshly, saying that members "take care of their own within the corporation" and their participation is "totally disrespectful" of other LGBT persons.

"They stabbed the community in the back," Roskoff said. "They have accepted crumbs—and they have disgraced themselves."

Asked whether NBCUniversal had any comment on the ongoing protests, an spokeswoman referred Newsweek to a recent statement by Craig Robinson, executive vice president and chief diversity officer.

"In 1986, a group of men and women at NBC formed one of the first gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employee groups in the entertainment industry and corporate America. Almost 30 years later, OUT@NBCUniversal will be the first LGBT group to march under a banner in New York's venerable St. Patrick's Day Parade on March 17, 2015," Robinson said in the statement. "As a group that has long fought for inclusion and equality for our employees, we are mindful of the efforts of others, both within and outside of the company, that have led us to this historic point. We approach the opportunity with respect for the event's heritage, culture and tradition, as well as hope and excitement for this first step towards an increasingly inclusive era for the parade."

"Some people need to know when to stop protesting, lest they begin looking ridiculous," William F. B. O'Reilly, who helps handle publicity for the parade, commented to Newsweek. "Let them pick on some other parade now. The St. Patrick's Day Parade controversy is over."

Generally speaking, most attendees seemed focused on the procession. A sizable contingent of inebriated young adults seemed to focus on holding it together, and avoiding police.  

Bronx resident Rory Sanderson, who in the spirit of the parade sported a black-and-green sequin beret, said his Irish mother brought him to the parade from a young age and that for him, "it's just New York."

While he doesn't mind gays participating, he doesn't want them doing so under their own banner.

"Gays have been marching in the St. Patty's Day for a long time—since it started probably. There's probably some marching today," he said. "You wanna be included in society, so why do you have to march separately?"  

Ali Hakim, of Queens, disagreed with protesters, saying: "They have a gay day parade." 

Hakim was particularly worried about a small child waving a pride flag, he said, "Why are they trying to turn this kid gay before he's even able to talk properly?"

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio did not march in this year's parade because of ongoing controversy about LGBT inclusion, nor did City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. De Blasio also didn't march in the 2014 parade, making him the first mayor in two decades to boycott the event. 

Officers

BOARD OF GOVERNORS

  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. Robin Byrd
  9. Hon. Gale Brewer
  10. Christian Campbell
  11. Lisa Cannistraci
  12. Kathleen Chalfant
  13. Gus Christensen
  14. Erik Coler
  15. Debra Cooper
  16. Hon. Jon Cooper
  17. Wilson Cruz
  18. Hon. Laurie Cumbo
  19. Alan Cumming
  20. Valorie Curry
  21. Michael Czaczkes
  22. Hon. Bill de Blasio
  23. Jon Del Giorno
  24. Aries Dela Cruz
  25. Kyan Douglas
  26. Hon. Daniel Dromm
  27. James Duff
  28. Hon. Ronnie Eldridge
  29. Kathryn Erbe
  30. Hon. Herman Farrell
  31. Hon. Alan Fleishman
  32. Hon. Dan Garodnick
  33. Dan Gettleman
  34. Tommy Greco
  35. Hon. Mark Green
  36. Robert Grunnah
  37. Tony Hoffmann
  38. Hon. Brad Hoylman
  39. Binn Jakupi
  40. Hon. Letitia James
  41. Hon. Corey Johnson
  42. Camille Joseph
  43. Phillip Keane
  44. Greg Lambert
  45. Marc Landis
  46. Dodge Landesman
  47. Cameron McFadden
  48. Michael Mallon
  49. Mike C. Manning
  50. Cathy Marino-Thomas
  51. Hon. Carlos Menchaca
  52. Hon. Rosie Mendez
  53. John Cameron Mitchell
  54. Donny Moss
  55. Barry Mullineaux
  56. Ali Najmi
  57. Hon. Paul Newell
  58. Hon. Yuh-Line Niou
  59. Noah Pfefferbilt
  60. Josue Pierre
  61. Bob Pontarelli
  62. Billy Porter
  63. Joe Pressley
  64. Hon. Jenifer Rajkumar
  65. Neil Reilly
  66. Hon. Gustavo Rivera
  67. Barbara Rosen
  68. Hon. Helen Rosenthal
  69. Maer Roshan
  70. Toby Russo
  71. Bill Samuels
  72. James Sansum
  73. Scott Sartiano
  74. Hon. Arthur Schwartz
  75. Lynn Schulman
  76. Hon. Rebecca Seawright
  77. Frank Selvaggi
  78. Rev. Al Sharpton
  79. Taylor Shubert
  80. Hon. Jo Anne Simon
  81. Tom Smith
  82. Marti Speranza
  83. Anne Strahle
  84. Hon. Scott Stringer
  85. Wayne Sunday
  86. Hon. Bill Thompson
  87. Hon. Matt Titone
  88. Hon. Ritchie Torres
  89. Sam Underwood
  90. Derek Walker
  91. Jessica Walter
  92. Patricia Nell Warren
  93. Wil Weder
  94. Seth Weissman
  95. Justin Westbrook-Lowery
  96. Mel Wymore
  97. Emma Wolfe
  98. Hon. Keith Wright
  99. Zephyr Teachout