PROGRESS, But Is It Enough? NYC AND Boston Allow First Exclusively LGBT Float In St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Despite the NYPD’s opinion of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, it turns out another old New York institution does seek the mayor’s approval – the organizers of the famed St. Patrick’s Day Parade. While many cities and towns have a parade on or around the festive Irish holiday, New York’s Manhattan and Boston’s are generally regarded as the kings of the parades for St. Patrick and his party filled day.

Last year, Mayor de Blasio balked at marching in the parade, which has traditionally excluded any floats sponsored by an LGBT group. Mayor de Blasio’s decision to stand in solidarity was joined by Boston’s mayor and in turn 3 major sponsors, all brewers, Sam Adams, Heineken and Guinness all pulled their sponsorships of the parade in 2014.

De Blasio was the first mayor in 20 years to skip the march.

That protest by the mayors has been continued this year even after parade organizers in NYC announced that they would indeed allow an openly LGBT group, [email protected] to March. Some thought that the mayor might change his mind on staying clear of the parade, but in a news conference after participating in an inclusive parade in Queens, de Blasio both praised the announcement as “progress” but insisted that more must be done, saying, “we need something more for it to really feel like we’ve turned the corner.”

He would not commit to returning to this year’s parade. He said he wanted to see more progress before he could make that commitment adding,  “A lot of people feel — I think, rightfully — that that is too small a change to merit a lot of us participating.”

LGBT rights groups cautiously  applauded the announcement. In a statement, President of GLAAD, Mary Kate Ellis said:

It’s about time … Discrimination has no place on America’s streets, least of all on Fifth Avenue. As an Irish-Catholic American, I look forward to a fully inclusive St. Patrick’s Day Parade that I can share with my wife and children, just as my own parents shared with me. Until then, parade organizers must be held accountable to ending this ban once and for all.

In an interview, Ellis said de Blasio’s refusal to march and the loss of corporate sponsors were the “straws that broke the camel’s back.”

“I’m cautiously optimistic that this is definitely an important and historic step in the right direction but I will be watching to see how this unfolds over the next year,” she said.

Guinness Brewing has announced it will return to the parade, seeing the change as significant enough to rejoin the event. There has been no word on the matter yet from Heineken.

Meanwhile in Boston, it too has announced the inclusion of exactly one openly LGBT group as well, OUTVETS, that will participate in the parade in 2015. This has caused at least one group, the Catholic Immaculate Heart of Mary School, to pull out of the event. In an interview with Reuters, a spokesman for the school claimed that “it would appear we are condoning them.”

This comes at a time when his boss, Pope Francis, has made great efforts to reach out to the LGBT community going further than any past Pope in supporting people being who they are without fear of retribution, excommunication, or ridicule.

There also has been no announcement yet from Sam Adams parent company, Boston Brewing, on returning to the parade as a sponsor.

Boston’s mayor also has not said if he will return this year.

So where it seems progress has been made, progress that should be applauded, 1 token group in each respective parade obviously hasn’t been enough to sway either mayor into ending their non participatory protest. They want to see full inclusion, not token inclusion, and a parade where all are welcome to openly celebrate the festive holiday.

One final note. As Tyler Lopez showed in an article last year, none of this is an issue in Ireland, where LGBT floats are regularly featured in St. Patrick’s day parades. Like in America, the holiday is more about getting plastered than parades. Also, they  pointed out that St. Patrick’s Day is not even a religious holiday, and that the name should be changed. Perhaps Patty’s Day partiers should skip parades all together, make like Barack Obama and the rest of us, and head to the pub.

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H/T: Featured Image via

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