Activist group Irish Queers and New York City council member Danny Dromm protested on the steps of City Hall this week against the exclusion of Irish gay groups in this year’s St. Patrick's Day parade.
What is most significant is that the only gay Irish group with real standing in the New York Irish community, the Lavender and Green Alliance headed by Brendan Fay, wasn't there, preferring to continue to negotiate.
“We have a month to go,” Fay told the Irish Voice. “The doors are still open and 2015 could be a celebration we can all be proud of.”
And he's right.
The protest created an interesting headline on the Reuters report. It read “Even with shift, NYC St. Patrick’s Day parade draws gay protest.”
In others words, WTF? There is a gay group marching in this year’s parade, called Out@NBCUniversal. It is a seismic concession by the organizers, something that was unthinkable just a few years ago. Cardinal Timothy Dolan has agreed to head the march knowing full well a gay group is included. It is a huge gesture of conciliation.
Yet the gay groups protesting dismissed that gesture. Irish Queers is a fit-for-purpose once a year serial boycotter of the parade. Their website is an angry harangue against the parade and cops who are alleged racists. They are the Irish equivalent of Act Up.
Danny Dromm has hardly distinguished himself as an Irish issues advocate either.
This is the man who, at the behest of the mayor, sponsored the bill to drive the horse and carriages out of Central Park and herd 50 Irish-born drivers into unemployment at the same time.
Yet Danny Boy feels free to pontificate.
Here is what Reuters reported he said: “‘The issue has never been about having a gay group in the parade," Daniel Dromm, a City Council member, said at a news conference outside City Hall where he was joined by Irish Queers, a group that has organized annual protests of the parade. "It has always been about having an Irish gay group in the parade. For the parade organizers to try to pull this trickery by allowing an organization called OUT@NBC to march in the parade is not a solution."
That is blatantly false. It was always about the principle of allowing a gay group to march. That has been conceded. In my opinion it happened twenty years too late, but, nonetheless, fresh thinking in the parade committee, especially by Vice Chairman John Lahey, provides an opening and an opportunity to make an historic breakthrough.
Of all people, Brendan Fay and his organization deserve to march in the parade. They have earned it over the years, staging an alternative parade in Queens, being open and inclusive and above all involved on issues outside the parade such as immigration and Northern Ireland.
A way must be found to have them included in the parade and I am very happy to see talks are ongoing. A possible solution is the fact that a right to life group had now been included outside the normal parameters of the parade so there seems to be an opening there to include the Lavender and Green. I suspect a lot of people, myself included, would be very happy to march with them in solidarity on what would be an historic day.
Organizers should know that they are the true representatives of the Irish gay community, not Irish Queers or Danny Dromm, both seeking another cheap headline.