It was a historic St Patrick’s Day in New York yesterday as gay groups were permitted to march under their own banners for the first time ever.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, who had boycotted the parade over the exclusion of LGBT groups, joined marchers from the Lavender & Green Alliance as they made their way down to Fifth Avenue.
“People worked together. They overcame it,” said de Blasio. “People will be able to express their pride, their pride as Irish-Americans, their pride as L.G.B.T. Americans, their pride as New Yorkers.”
Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald was also in attendance and marched behind the Lavender & Green banner, saying she was “absolutely exhilarated,” reports The Irish Times.
“It has been a long time coming and it is so brilliant that the banner is carried in the year of the commemoration of the Rising because this is what it is about – it is about inclusivity,” she said.
The inclusion of gay groups see the end of a decades long battle between LGBT activists and the Ancient Order of Hibernians, a conservative group which helps organise the event.
Last year a single gay group marched: members of Out@NBCUniversal, staff of the television network which broadcasts the parade. An alternative, inclusive parade, St Pat’s for All, began in 2000 and in 2015 was attended by Mayor de Blasio, who boycotted the main parade due to its exclusion gay groups.
Campaigners welcomed the historic change. “I call it a day of history and hospitality,” Brendan Fay, member of the Lavender & Green Alliance who campaigned tirelessy for the right to march, told the New York Times.
“I never thought back then that I’d be marching up Fifth Avenue with my spouse, Tom, with the mayor and everybody celebrating inclusion.”