Irish L.G.B.T. activists accuse parade group of ‘trickery and bigotry’

Jeff Mulligan of Irish Queers blasted the “closed-door deal” to allow a group of L.G.B.T. NBC employees to join the parade on March 17.  Photos by Gerard Flynn

Jeff Mulligan of Irish Queers blasted the “closed-door deal” to allow a group of L.G.B.T. NBC employees to join the parade on March 17. Photos by Gerard Flynn

BY GERARD FLYNN  |  Because it falls on her brother’s birthday, local City Councilmember Rosie Mendez isn’t exactly sure what she’ll be doing this St. Patrick’s Day, when the floats and bands make their noisy way up Fifth Ave. past the cheering crowds.

But despite a recent decision by the parade committee to allow an L.G.B.T. group to march for the first time, Mendez still won’t be marching, she told reporters Tuesday on the steps of City Hall.

Last September, the parade committee announced plans for the first time to allow an L.G.B.T. group, Out@NBCUniversal, made up of members of the network that televises the parade, to participate.

That decision hasn’t won over many in the L.G.B.T. community, according to speakers at Tuesday’s press conference. Slamming the move as a cynical ploy by the organizers, they accused them of “trickery and bigotry.”

The protest included Emmai Gelman of the group Irish Queers, who are among the many who are very unhappy that the parade organizers didn’t reach out to them before deciding to allow the NBC group to join in. They  suggested that corporate sponsorship may have played a role in the parade group’s decision.

In a September interview with BuzzFeed, Irish Queers called including the NBC group a “deal made behind closed doors between parade organizers and one of their last remaining sponsors, NBC.”

Rosie Mendez, the East Village’s city councilmember, said she won’t be marching along Fifth Ave.

Rosie Mendez, the East Village’s city councilmember, said she won’t be marching along Fifth Ave.

Insufficient room is being given as this year’s reason for the continued exclusion of other L.G.B.T. groups from the parade. But Queens Councilmember Daniel Dromm — who, like Mendez, is openly gay — called on the parade committee to follow Ireland’s all-inclusive example and have a change of heart.

Veteran gay-rights activist, Allen Roskoff, president of the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, warned elected officials that march that they would be “watched.”

“Too many elected officials are playing politics” over the parade, Roskoff declared, adding that he would be watching those who participate. He said he was “very proud of City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito’s decision not to attend.”

Although she was not able to attend, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer issued the following statement:

“We have boycotted the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Manhattan for a simple reason: Refusing to allow Irish L.G.B.T. New Yorkers to celebrate their heritage and their identity by marching in the parade is discriminatory.”

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