All New Yorkers will come together in two weeks to shine with pride during this year’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Thursday afternoon that on March 17 he will end his boycott on the Fifth Avenue parade as the ban prohibiting members of the LGBT community from marching has been dropped.
“Who are we as New Yorkers, we are a place that believes everyone has the potential for greatness, everyone matters, everyone should be included. This is who we’ve been for centuries,” de Blasio said.
For the past two years, de Blasio has opted out from participating in the parade — the first time in two decades that a mayor has done so — over the rule that did not allow gay groups from being a part of the event.
According to the New York Daily News, last year the ban was dropped partially when a group of gay employees at NBC were allowed to march.
“For last two decades there’s been a blemish on our city because we couldn’t be what we’re meant to be,” de Blasio said. “For the first time in decades the whole Irish community will come together to celebrate.”
De Blasio added that along with honoring St. Patrick and celebrating the 100th anniversary of Easter Rising — a landmark in the battle for Irish freedom — March 17 will also honor Ireland’s achievement in the world. According to the mayor, Ireland became the first nation to vote for marriage equality — opening the door for others nations to join in the change.
During his announcement, the mayor also pointed out that with dropping the ban New York City is showing that although there are messages of “exclusion and separation,” it does not represent what most Americans — and New Yorkers — feel.
“That’s why today is even more important because it’s not just what it means to us. It’s New York once again sending the message that New York values are American values,” de Blasio said. “We get to experience our proud New York values on March 17 together.”
Members of the Lavender and Green Alliance, an Irish LGBT group which through the years has voiced its opposition and fought against the ban, will be one of many marchers during the parade.
“Your words of welcome have transformed a bitter and painful divide in our community and city,” Brendan Faye, co-founder of the group, said while choking back tears. “We look so forward to marching proudly up Fifth Avenue with our banner.
The City Council — who also boycotted marching in the parade the previous years — will now also participate on March 17.
Councilman Daniel Dromm — who is an openly gay member of the City Council — could not hold back his tears during the Thursday announcement and remembered the struggles faced to get to this point.
“There were many times we wanted to give up and wondered if we’d ever see this day,” Dromm said. “Today is a day of reconciliation and healing for us.”