New York City's St. Patrick's Day Parade has been marching on since 1762. This year, the LGBTQ community was allowed to participate for the first time when parade organizers lifted a long-standing ban.
"This is a massive victory," Irish-American Emmaia Gelman, 41, told CBS News. The outlet reported that although Gelman had attended the parade religiously for two decades, she attended as a protester. This year marked her first as part of the event.
LGBTQ activists have been protesting the parade for the past 25 years. They even sued the parade organizers during the 1990s to demand inclusion. The judge sided against them on the grounds of protecting the parade organizers' First Amendment rights.
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The activists continued to persevere through public protests, and Mayor Bill de Blasio showed his support by skipping the parades. He marched in the parade for the first time today as mayor.
New York-based LGBTQ group the Irish Queers also marched in the St. Patrick's Day Parade for the first time. Since its formation in 1996, the group has led the effort to advocate for more inclusion in the parade.
The Lavender and Green Alliance, another local LGBTQ organization, will join the Irish Queers in the parade after over two decades of protesting the ban.
"I never thought I'd see the day when I could march up Fifth Avenue in the St. Patrick's Day Parade with my husband," Brendan Fay, chairman of the Lavender and Green Alliance, said via the Washington Post. "When we started in 1991, after getting arrested so many times for protesting the parade, wow, what a moment this is."
Cover image via Kobby Dagan / Shutterstock.com and MNStudio / Shutterstock.com.