Gay-friendly NYC St. Pat’s Parade to Find ‘New Focus’

NEW YORK — The founder of an LGBT-friendly St. Patrick’s Day parade said Saturday that the inclusive celebration will go on even though the city’s big St. Patrick’s Day procession in Manhattan has dropped its ban on gay groups.

St. Pat’s for All founder Brendan Fay said he expects 2,000 marchers at Sunday’s event in Queens.

Organizers of the Manhattan parade, on Fifth Avenue, had banned gay groups marching under their own banners. But the groups will be allowed at this year’s event, the nation’s largest, on March 17.

Fay said, “The original reason for the St. Pat’s for All is gone, but it has grown more diverse and more inclusive over the years.”

He said the Queens parade will now focus on diversity in all forms. Participants this year include members of several ethnic communities, including Koreans, Mexicans and Puerto Ricans, and poets, artists, musicians and athletes.

The parade will start with a moment of remembrance honoring men and women who spent years fighting for gay rights, especially activists who tried to walk in the Manhattan celebration and were arrested.

Meanwhile on Saturday, Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, was among the marchers in the Queens County St. Patrick’s Day Parade in the Rockaways, a waterfront community once known as the Irish Riviera for its large ethnic Irish population.

De Blasio, serving his first term as mayor, had declined to march in the big Manhattan event the last two years, but he said this week he has ended that boycott now that it has fully dropped its longstanding ban on allowing gay and lesbian groups to march under their own banners.

VERENA DOBNIK, Associated Press



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