New York Mayor Bill de Blasio is sure to come under increased pressure not to march in the 2015 St. Patrick’s Day Parade now that the Irish Queers group has announced it will protest.
However, Brendan Fay’s St. Pat’s for All and its Lavender and Green Alliance did not join Tuesday’s press event organized by Irish Queers, nor will Fay’s groups join with Irish Queers to apply to join the 2015 march.
The fact that Fay is taking the high road is no surprise as there is no equivalency at all between St. Pat’s for All/Lavender and Green and Irish Queers. The former are legitimate grassroots Irish groups, while the other is a once a year protest phenom.
Fay’s and his groups have been part and parcel of New York’s Irish American community for many years. Fay has taken part in discussions with the New York St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee and the Irish government over finding a resolution.
St. Pat’s for All and Lavender and Green came quite close to achieving that and will be bitterly disappointed that they have been ignored now that an historic concession has been made.
Fay’s groups also found time to establish a dignified parade in Queens notable for its inclusionary policies that has grown stronger every year.
They have also joined in other battles central to the Irish community such as legalizing the undocumented. They have more than established their bona fides which are what the Parade Committee looks at.
St. Pat’s for All and Lavender and Green should be allowed to march as they represent true grass roots Irish organizations.
Irish Queers is a much more radicalized group that has very little profile in the community and which has shown up on St. Patrick’s Day to protest. Apart from that, they are invisible in the community, other than when a belligerent press release is called for. It is hardly likely that de Blasio will be swayed by their latest protest.
Other gay organizations seemingly intent on seeking to march are in danger of misunderstanding the entire concept of the parade. It is for groups with an identifiable Irish connection.
It is hard to argue, as the gay groups are doing, that the NBC network group does not have a deep link to the parade.
NBC has televised the march for 20 years. One of the network’s top executives, Frank Comerford, was grand marshal in 2012. The head of NBC’s OUT@NBCUniversal Andrew Brewer specifically mentions his Irish heritage on his Facebook site.
Is it a perfect compromise? No, but it does concede the vital principle of allowing a gay group to march which is what de Blasio should consider first and foremost when making his decision about marching in 2015.
Having conceded that principle of allowing a gay group to march, the St. Patrick’s Parade Committee may have hoped they were out of the woods and home free.
It was a massively significant concession, but there is a clear line of thought that it is Fay’s groups that should have been offered the first opportunity to march proudly on Fifth Avenue. That was an opportunity missed.
It is a complex situation on both sides of the debate. The New York Parade Committee and 2015 grand marshal Cardinal Timothy Dolan have taken a massive step, first revealed in last week’s Irish Voice, and one that has won headlines all across the world.
The gay organizations have won a massive victory, a tribute to their consistency and endurance during a more than 20-year battle to be included.
Both still have a lot to learn from the other, and the matter will by no means be resolved by March 2015. But important first steps have been taken.