LGBTQ members denied participation in Staten Island's St. Patrick's Day parade

STATEN ISLAND, New York (WABC) -- Members of the LGBTQ community on Staten Island are vowing to continue fighting after being denied, once again, a chance to march in the St. Patrick's Day Parade.

Brendan Fay is proud to be Irish, Catholic and gay.

Five years ago, he was the grand marshal for a St. Patrick's Day parade back in Ireland. He's also marched on Fifth Ave. But this year he has been denied the celebration on Staten Island.

"Exclusion is not Irish. Exclusion is not Catholic. And exclusion is most definitely not in the spirit of New York," Fay said.

Fay is the founder of the Lavender and Green Alliance for Irish LGBTQ members.

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On Sunday, he and other groups applied to march in the St. Patrick's Day Parade on Staten Island.

Eyewitness News reporter Lucy Yang was told all LGBTQ organizations were denied on the spot.

"It's a punch to the gut. It's a great celebration and we want to be a part of that and included. Instead, we're being discriminated against," said Carol Bullock of the Pride Center of Staten Island.

Joyce Garrison's group represents gay officers, mostly from the NYPD. Her members -- good enough to protect the city -- but not good enough to celebrate.

"I'm praying they can open their eyes and see what's wrong with the exclusions," said Garrison of the Gay Officer's Action League.

After years of pressure, pride groups are now allowed in the big parade on Fifth Ave. But on Staten Island, the application reads in bold face and capital letters: "This parade is not to be used for and will not allow political or sexual identification agendas to be promoted."

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"I believe hearts and minds can change in a New York minute," Fay said. "The day will come when the rainbows will be flying along with Irish tri colors."

Eyewitness News reached out to the organizer but so far, no response.

The parade kicks off on March 6. Those desperately trying to be included promise they will never give up.


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