Sunday, March 2, 2014

St. Pat's for All Parade

I had a wonderful time participating in the annual St. Pat's for All Parade on Skillman Avenue in the Irish-American New York City neighborhoods of Sunnyside and Woodside in Queens on March 2, 2014.  The fantastic parade was created 15 years ago in response to the hateful and bigoted ban on Gay and Lesbian banners by the organizers of the St. Patrick's Day Parade on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.  This year, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio made a statement by boycotting the Fifth Avenue parade because of their exclusion and joining the St. Pat's for All parade instead because of its policy were everyone is welcome to celebrate.  This parade is what New York City is all about. This is a parade that celebrates inclusion, diversity, unity. That is what this city is about. That is what has made this city strong,” Mr. de Blasio told us from the main-stage before kicking off the parade. My approach has been to embrace parades that are inclusive. And that’s the standard we’re going to hold. We are here to honor the extraordinary Irish heritage of this city and we want to do it in a way that respects all people and all communities," de Blasio said to a loud roar from the crowd. "This is exactly the way I think we should celebrate in New York City - in an inclusive way."

Other elected officials who participated included NY Senator Michael Gianaris, Public Advocate Letitia James, City Comptroller Scott Stringer, and State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, Manhattan Borough President Gail Brewer, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., along with Congressional members Joe Crowley, Carolyn Maloney, and Grace Meng.  The NYC Council Members included Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito,  Andrew Cohen of the Bronx, Mark Weprin of Queens Village, Costa Constantinides of Woodside , Paul Vallone of Bayside, and Out Gay NYC Council members - Majority leader Jimmy Van Bramer, Rosie Mendez of Manhattan's Lower East Side, Corey Johnson of Chelsea, Daniel Dromm from Jackson Heights, Carlos Menchaca of Brooklyn, and Ritchie Torres of the Bronx.

Also included in the parade were notable names from from the Emerald Isle Motherland.  They were Irish Drag Diva sensation from Dublin -  Panti Bliss, Irish Consul General Noel Kilkenny And Irish Cabinet Member Ciaran Cannan.

The Grand Marshal's of the Parade were former Senator Tom Duane and Terry McGovern, founder of the HIV Law Project. "You have answered exclusion with inclusion and acceptance, met hatred with love and hospitality," McGovern told the crowd from the stage. "We march today for human rights, we march against discrimination, and we honor that complex, living, evolving, beautiful landscape called Irish culture. I am so certain that what we are doing today, resisting exclusion, is cultural."  

I so happy to be interviewed by the gorgeous Sean McCarthy for and I was also quoted in the Queens Chronicle newspaper.