LGBTQ groups welcomed for the first time in the 2019 Brooklyn St Patrick's Day parade. 

The inclusion of LGBTQ groups in this year's Brooklyn St Patrick's Day parade has signaled yet another victory for those battling for inclusivity on March 17 Irish American celebrations. Within New York City, Staten Island now remains isolated as the sole borough not allowing for groups identifying as gay or groups hoping to march with a pride flag. 

In a letter to their members, the Brooklyn Irish LGBTQ Organization (BILO) expressed their delight that their contingent was accepted to march in the Park Slope/Windsor Terrace parade behind their banner. 

“The Irish- and Irish-American community in Brooklyn is diverse and for the first time this parade will fully reflect this diversity,” said BILO co-founder, Lisa Fane.

“We look forward to marching behind our banner with our family and friends in a unified parade - joining so many other neighborhood community groups in a joyous and fun celebration of Irish culture.”

Read more: Staten Island St. Patrick’s Day parade committee criticized, boycotted after LGBT group exclusion

BILO co-founders Matt McMorrow and Lisa Fane with Assemblymember Robert Carroll. (Image: Gabriele Holtermann-Gorden.)

BILO co-founders Matt McMorrow and Lisa Fane with Assemblymember Robert Carroll. (Image: Gabriele Holtermann-Gorden.)

Fane and the other BILO founders, along with local Brooklyn Assemblymember Robert Carroll, sent letters to parade organizers in January 2019 requesting that BILO be allowed march behind its banner this St Patrick's Day. Having sat down with organizers of the parade also, the group's application was accepted in February. 

Fane noted the support of Assemblymember Carroll, whose grandfather was the original founder of the Brooklyn parade, telling IrishCentral of the responsibility Carroll felt in making sure that the parade was diverse. 

“As a lifelong resident of Windsor Terrace whose Grandfather started this parade in 1976, whose father was the announcer for this parade for many years and who participated in this parade every year growing up, I applaud the Irish American parade-committee decision to allow BILO to march in this year’s parade” said Carroll (D-WF), who represents Brooklyn’s 44th Assembly District which includes the neighborhoods of Park Slope, Windsor Terrace, Kensington, Victorian Flatbush, Borough Park, Ditmas Park, and Midwood.

Read more: Timeline of the NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade’s LGBT controversy

Another great article highlighting the historic nature of @BKLGBTQIrish’s marching in this year’s Brooklyn St. Patrick’s Day Parade. I was proud to help facilitate this happening! #ErinGoBragh

— Robert Carroll (@Bobby4Brooklyn) March 5, 2019

“My Grandfather founded this parade to commemorate the American bicentennial and to celebrate the Irish and the contributions of Irish Americans to this country and I know that he would be proud to know that the parade is welcoming the Brooklyn Irish LGBTQ contingent." 

Brooklyn Irish LGBTQ Organization (BILO) was formed by LGBTQ Brooklynites of Irish descent to raise awareness of and celebrate the diversity of the Irish and Irish-American community in Brooklyn.

Many of their members, including Fane, were involved in the fight for inclusion in the main Fifth Avenue St Patrick's Day Parade, a decades-long battled that was finally resolved in recent years. 

Celebrations of our heritage are far richer when they reflect diversity and inclusion. I'm proud that @BKLGBTQIrish will march in this year's #Brooklyn #StPatricksDay Parade, and I applaud the work they and @Bobby4Brooklyn have done to make this possible.

— Eric Adams (@BPEricAdams) March 6, 2019

While no LGBTQ groups had applied to march in the Brooklyn parade since 1999, the last attempts saw refusals from parade organizers and lead to arrests of those protesting against their exclusion. 

BILO are now eager to spread the word that all are welcome to become a part of this positive revolution of acceptance in Irish America, after years of sacrifice from those determined to march in a parade in their own borough. 

On Sunday, March 17, 2019, the 44th Annual Brooklyn St. Patrick's Day Parade kicks off at 1 p.m. and runs from Prospect Park West and 15th Street down to 7th Avenue and Garfield Place then back over to Prospect Park West.

The Parade Grand Marshal for 2019 is Bernadette Buckley Kash, who runs the Buckley School of Irish Dance. Aides to the Grand Marshal this year include Christopher Coughlin, a drummer from the Clann Eireann Pipe Band; Mary Nolan, a Gaelic Sports commentator; Scott Richard Lloyd, a member of the United Emerald Societies of NYC; and Rita Donion, a teacher at P.S.230 in Brooklyn.

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