LGBTQ Exclusion in St. Patrick’s Day Parade


On Sunday, March 5, Staten Island held the 59th annual St Patrick’s Day Parade. Out of those 59 years not one year has the Pride Center been allowed to march. The SI Pride Center is a group centered around upholding the needs and wants of the LGBTQ+ community on Staten Island. Staten Island is the only borough in all of NYC that refuses to allow LGBTQ+ people to march in the St Patrick’s Day Parade. 

Every year the Pride Center registers to enter the parade and every year they are turned away. It has been such an annual rejection that it has become a spectacle that people will purposely come to watch in support for the Center. Larry Cummings, the president of the Ancient Order of the Hyberthians on Staten Island, keeps denying the Pride Center and all LGBTQ-identifying people from marching in the parade. In fact, in 2020 Miss Staten Island, Madison L’Insalata was banned from marching in the parade after coming out as bisexual. And this isn’t the only instance of blatant prejudice and mistreatment of the LGBTQ+ community that has happened in the parade. According to the Staten Island Advance, councilman Joe Borelli was also banned from marching in the parade because he wore a small pride flag pin on the outside of his jacket. 

The Pride Center has been protesting and taking a stand against this discrimination by creating their own events. Every year the center  has a rainbow run before the parade to support of the LGBTQ+ community. Recently I went to the parade and asked people around the parade their view on the issue of LGBTQ+ exclusion in the parade and in Staten Island as a whole.  The general consensus is that most people are outraged that the LGBTQ community is being ostracized from, what Shawn Riley calls “one of the biggest pieces of public life on our Island.’’ Riley is  the great-grandchild of the founder of the parade committee on Staten Island (The Ancient Order of the Hyberthians) and a member of the LGBTQ+ community. 

Each year the protests get larger and the parade viewers diminish in number.  Deirdre Armitage, a native Staten Islander,  feels strongly about the protest, “Hopefully we won’t need this [the protests that the Pride Center organizes], but if we do there are many many more allies that we will mobilize for next year.” When asked the same question Jeremiah Jurkiewicz, the coordinator of the LGBTQ+ Resource Center at CSI, said “The more people the more pressure it puts on and the parade committee, I think we saw great support today….. and I think the more people that get involved the easier it will be to change.” 

When asked if they think that LGBTQ+ exclusion is a major issue on Staten Island Shawn Riley said, “ absolutely, it’s really sad when you look at every other St. Patrick’s Day parade and there’s LGBT people that walk…. I think a lot of the Island takes a very colorblind ‘I treat everyone the same’ stance but you can’t say you treat everyone the same when LGBT people are being excluded from public life.” 

Deirdre Armitage says she, however, believes that Staten Island has come far in terms of LGBT acceptance, it’s just the parade that is lagging behind.

 Jennifer Armitage Lawson, the mother of two Curtis High School students, adds, “it has been getting so much better, that the parade is holding onto the side of old misguided values instead of what is actually going on in people’s hearts.” From the number of people supporting the Pride Center and going to the Rainbow Run, that seems true.

The Mayor of New York City, Eric Adams, was at the Rainbow Run hosted by the Pride Center and did not walk in the parade. The parade only lasted about an hour and a half as opposed to other years. Curtis groups did not march in the parade, the only high schools that marched were St Joseph by the Sea and Monsignor Farrell.