Church leaders denounce St. Patrick’s Parade restrictions; Staten Island holds back while the world evolves

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Leaders of the Metropolitan Community Church are denouncing the exclusion of LGBTQ organizations, individuals and allies from the Staten Island St. Patrick’s Day parade, scheduled to take place next weekend.


“Our parade is for Irish heritage and culture,” Parade Committee President Larry Cummings reportedly told The Irish Voice in 2018. “It is not a political or sexual identification parade.”


Well, no; it’s not.  But Irish heritage includes recognition of LGBTQ people.


“It is worth noting that the people of Ireland voted in favour of same-gender marriage in 2015, so it is rather ironic that the parade is banning LGBT groups,” said Rev. Cecilia Eggleston, moderator of MCC churches worldwide.  “Irish heritage includes LGBTQ people, and the parade in Staten Island should, too. – not as a ‘Gay Pride’ event, but as an inclusive one that recognizes the presence and contributions of Irish-Americans who happen to be LGBTQ.”


“For my 15th anniversary as Pastor of MCCNY, the Church sent me and Mary Jane, my spouse, to Ireland and Italy,” said Rev. Pat Bumgardner, who has served MCC’s church in New York City for 40 years. “I wanted to see the Vatican, and Mary Jane wanted to return to the land of her family’s origin.  She is first-generation Irish in this country, her mother and father both having immigrated as young people who then met here.  Her mother was 16 years old when she boarded a ship alone and came looking for a new life.


“Our experience in Ireland was of a culture and a people who are hospitable and kind, who welcomed us into their homes, who went out of their way to help us find what we were looking for, and who shared sometimes quite intimate and personal stories about their own lives.  It was a trip and an experience we will never forget, and one that made it crystal clear to me that what people like the organizers of the Staten Island St. Patrick’s Parade are doing in excluding anyone who even tangentially supports the lives of LGBTQI people is anything but Irish or a tribute to Irish culture and heritage.


“On the contrary, it is a tribute to the bigotry and animosity and the so-called ‘faith-based’ prejudice of a tired and Biblically unfounded prejudice.  Larry Cummings’ comment that, ‘Our parade is for Irish heritage and culture.  It is not a political or sexual identification parade,’ has actually made the gathering just that – a political and sexual identification parade that glorifies the accident of being born heterosexual and nothing more than that.  Irish culture, Irish heritage – what should truly be celebrated about the Irish – is their open-hearted welcome of all God’s children.”