The New York City St. Patrick’s Day parade has come and gone. A gay group marching with its own banner took part for the first time, and Fifth Avenue didn’t cave in as a result.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan led the parade as grand marshal in this transformative year, and he did his job with aplomb. The hundreds of thousands of marchers and spectators who filled the avenue in a sea of green enjoyed every minute of the Irish takeover of the city.
The annual fuss leading up to March 17 in Manhattan certainly gives us plenty to talk about and write about, but at the end of the day the 255-year-old parade marches on.
The inclusion of OUT@NBCUniversal, the LGBT group from the parade’s NBC broadcast home, was a giant step taken by the parade committee – with Dolan’s blessing – in an effort to deal with the controversy over the right of gay groups to march with a banner.
Irish gay groups weren’t kind to OUT, criticizing members for accepting the parade invite and charging that they were little more than corporate pawns willing to sell out and give the parade committee cover.
To their credit, OUT didn’t fight back. Their marching unit was cheered on the avenue, and their spokespeople said they hoped for more inclusivity in the years ahead.
Next year’s line of march should, without question, make space for the Lavender and Green Alliance, the well-respected Queens-based Irish LGBT group that’s been a part of the local Irish community for years. Lavender and Green aren’t drive-by Irish. Their members are committed to Irish causes of all kinds, and they continued to hold out hope for a further compromise on this year’s parade right until the very end.
Next year must be their year to take part in the Fifth Avenue march for the first time. At this point there’s no valid reason at all for the continued exclusion. They will be a most welcome addition.
What of New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who boycotted the parade again this year because it wasn’t inclusive enough for him?
The mayor should be worried about bigger problems it seems – like his troubling tendency to show up late at virtually every public appearance.
His continued tardiness more than a year into his administration is quite shocking at this point, and reared its head on two occasions during green season – 30 minutes late for the Rockaway parade in Queens, and 15 minutes gone before he showed up at the traditional Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on March 17. It’s disrespectful to those awaiting his arrival, and pretty embarrassing personally, one would think. Or maybe he just doesn’t give a damn.
In reality, the mayor wasn’t missed one bit on Fifth Avenue. Nor were the other politicians on the City Council who were unsatisfied over OUT’s place in the line of march.
There’s no question de Blasio’s absence from last year’s march started the chain reaction that led to this year’s invitation to OUT. He should have shown further leadership by accepting the parade committee’s move, joining the parade and advocating for Irish LGBT inclusion in 2016.
So, until next year…