Park Slope

First LGBTQ+ group to march in a Brooklyn St. Patrick’s Day Parade

March 7, 2019 By John Alexander

This month marks the first time an Irish LGBTQ+ group will be marching in the Irish American Day/Brooklyn St. Patrick’s Day parade on Mar. 17 in Park Slope and Windsor Terrace.

The co-founders of Brooklyn Irish LGBTQ+ Organization (BILO), Lisa Fane and Matthew McMorrow, sent a letter to the Irish American Parade Committee in January asking to march in the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

Assemblymember Robert Carroll, who represents Park Slope and Windsor Terrace, wrote a letter in support of BILO and helped arrange a one-on-one meeting with the parade committee for Fane, McMorrow and himself.

The group received a letter earlier this week from the parade committee leadership notifying them that BILO will be able to march in the parade, making it the first openly LGBTQ+ organization to march in the parade’s history.

The decision came on the heels of backlash to the Staten Island St. Patrick’s Day Parade committee’s decision not to allow the Pride Center of Staten Island to march under its banner in the Mar. 2 celebration.

Matt McMorrow and Lisa Fane of BILO with Assemblymember Robert Carroll. Photo by Gariele Holtermann-Gorden

“As a lifelong resident of Windsor Terrace whose grandfather founded this parade in 1976, whose father was the announcer for this parade for many years and who participated in this parade every year growing up, I applaud the Irish American parade committee decision to include BILO in the line of march for this year’s parade,” Carroll said.

“My grandfather founded this parade to commemorate the American bicentennial and to celebrate the Irish and the contributions of Irish Americans to this country, and I know that he would be proud to know that it is now welcoming to all,” he added.

In fact, Carroll told the Brooklyn Eagle that he considered it to be a unique responsibility to help make sure that Brooklyn’s St. Patrick’s Day parade be welcoming to all individuals. He said that the parade was a family tradition and that it was one of the first initiatives he chose to undertake after his election to the Assembly in 2016.

“I am so glad that everyone was able to come together to honor Irish heritage and culture and make this the first fully inclusive St. Patrick’s Day parade in Brooklyn,” Carroll added.

Ceremonies for the 44th annual Park Slope/Windsor Terrace St. Patrick’s Day Parade will start at Bartel Pritchard Circle, Prospect Park West and 15th Street, at 12:30 p.m.

The parade kicks off at 1 p.m. and will travel up Seventh Avenue to Garfield Place before heading back to Prospect Park West and 15th Street. Bernadette Buckley Kash, founder of the Buckley School of Irish Dance, will serve as this year’s parade grand marshal.

The Park Slope St. Patrick’s Day Parade is one of two parades held in Brooklyn. The 26th annual Bay Ridge St. Patrick’s Day Parade takes place a week later on Mar. 24.

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