Let LGBT People March in Brooklyn's Irish American Day Parade

To the Organizers of the Brooklyn Irish American Day Parade:

We, the undersigned, are once again requesting that Lavender and Green Alliance, a group comprised of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Brooklyn residents of Irish descent, be permitted to march in the Brooklyn Irish American Day Parade, proudly behind Lavender and Green Alliance’s banner.  For over a decade, the members of Lavender and Green Alliance, as well as other LGBT groups, have been excluded from participating in the annual parade.  With each passing year, the exclusion becomes more and more of a blot on our borough and sullies its reputation as a haven of vibrant diversity.

That Lavender and Green Alliance should be barred from marching in the parade solely because of the sexual orientation of its members is unconscionable.  In the past, we were told that gays and lesbians were welcome to march in the parade, as long as we did not display the banner that distinguished us from other groups.  Meanwhile, sanitation workers marched behind banners that distinguished them as proud Irish sanitation workers.  Irish police officers proudly marched in their uniforms.  Even our four-legged friends, such as Irish Setters and Irish Terriers, had a banner to walk behind.  Yet LGBT Irish Americans were told that sexual orientation is nothing to be proud of.

While it may seem silly to be proud of one’s sexual orientation—true, there are no straight pride celebrations—it is important to remember why LGBT people are proud and must continue to be proud.  For decades—indeed, centuries—LGBT people have been the victims of scorn, hatred, discrimination and violence.  For most of history, we have been forced to hide our sexual identities and lead lives in painful isolation, distrust and dishonesty.  During World War II, LGBT people were systematically hunted, tortured and murdered by the Nazis.  And even to this day there are many places in this country and throughout the world where it is unsafe to be an openly gay person.  But in the past several decades, the LGBT community—in the U.S., Ireland and many other nations throughout the world—has fought very hard and achieved great victories for the rights, dignity, safety and acceptance of our members.

Today, Brooklyn is where a great number of LGBT people—many of Irish descent—choose to call home.  We are lawyers and doctors, teachers and nurses, bartenders and police officers.  Some of us are in long-term committed relationships.  Some of us are married and have children.  We lead our lives the way most people do, but we remain proud of the continuing struggle that has made it possible for us to live in a place, like Brooklyn, where we can lead our lives openly, raise families and feel connected to a broader community.  Surely, any Irish person can relate to this sense of pride.

We ask that you reconsider your position and allow the members of Lavender and Green Alliance to march proudly behind their banner.  Let the Brooklyn Irish American Day Parade proudly reflect the rich diversity of Brooklyn’s Irish American community.

Sincerely,

Lambda Independent Democrats of Brooklyn

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