Saturday, March 6, 2010

Note From Dan Choi Who Wants You To March With Him Tomorrow (Sunday 3/7/10)

I am honored to march in the INCLUSIVE ST. PATRICK'S PARADE tomorrow, in Queens, NYC.

I hope you can join me in this act of solidarity and principles. The traditional St. Patrick's Day Parade disallows openly gay persons to march and serves as a shameful reminder of bigotry, exclusion and discrimination in our day. Even though the St. Patrick's parades in Ireland are inclusive of openly gay marchers, the NYC parade still discriminates. I urge the parade organizers (Ancient Order of Hibernians) and New York City to march on the right side of justice and history, as the organizers of the NYC Lunar New Year Parade have decided.

Irish Americans and Catholics have suffered discrimination and bigotry throughout their history in America and they must wake up to the hypocrisy in the oppression and discrimination that some of them inflict upon the LGBT community today.

I am particularly honored to march with fellow champions in the LGBT Community: NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn, an Irish American who is boycotting the discriminatory parades, newly-elected NYC Councilmember Daniel Dromm, and Community Organizer Mary Lanning. (see press release below)

The Irish also provide an example for open and honest military service, and in national values that include LGBT citizens. It is time for America to do the same.

Personally, as a serving member of the New York Army National Guard, and the Fighting 69th Infantry Regiment (an historically Irish American unit) I firmly believe the values we fight for as soldiers can and must be fully manifest at home. This resonates with me deeply as a member of a unit once composed of second-class citizens. I am proud to serve in my capacity not only as a soldier but as an American citizen who stands on the promises of our country: liberty and justice for all, without discrimination and bigotry.
Dan Choi
PO Box 231501
New York, NY 10023
(714) 654-0828

I am also honored to serve alongside Judy Shepard as Grand Marshal of this year's NYC LGBT Pride Parade: Heritage of Pride.

Tomorrow's parade route, times, subway stop and afterparty info are after the jump.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                   
Contacts: Brendan Fay (718) 721-2780
Kathleen Walsh D’Arcy (718) 898-8140

March 3, 2010                                                                                    
Newly-Elected Councilmember Daniel Dromm and Community Organizer  Mary Lanning To Lead March 7th Inclusive St. Patrick’s Parade
Mayor Bloomberg and Speaker Quinn To March; Irish support for Haiti & Chile key theme
(NYC) Councilmember Daniel Dromm and Mary Lanning, Chair of the NYC Clothing Bank are the scheduled grand marshals of the inclusive Queens St. Patrick’s Parade, Sunday, March 7th, 1PM. Dromm and Lanning will lead the “St Pat’s For All” parade, which begins at 43rd Street and Skillman Ave. in Sunnyside and ends at 61st in Woodside, Queens.

Fay said “Our St Pats for All 2010 is a generous coming together of businesses, communities and musicians who for a few hours turn the streets of Sunnyside and Woodside into an “Ireland of the welcomes”. Hospitality is at the heart of this inclusive St. Patrick’s celebration, which welcomes the diverse immigrant communities of Queens, as well as gay contingents.

Fay said “As an expression of support and in solidarity with Haiti & with our  the shared experiences of Irish hunger, famine and death, the relief organization Concern will march. Also raising awareness will be the Haitian band, Brother High: Full Tempo & student group Hope for Haiti.

New groups in the parade this year include the San Simon Bolivian dancers and members of the Chilean community, which will be celebrating Ireland as well as it’s own 200 years of Independence, while calling for awareness of and aid for victims of their country’s recent earthquake and tsunami tragedies. NAACP Queens returns recalling Frederick Douglas’ visit to Ireland during the famine. The Mexican community also returns with banners and dance honoring Our Lady of Guadalupe and the San Patricio Irish immigrant brigade, which defended them against U.S. invasion. Bolivians and Peruvians will honor the life of Roger Casement and his humanitarian work in Africa and South America.

The parade is result of months of meetings hosted by Sunnyside residents Patrick Langhenry and Raisa Wu. District leader Deirdre Feerick will again host an Irish breakfast. Local  Council member Jimmy Van Bramer will welcome the parade to Sunnyside. Council member Van Bramer was arrested with Speaker Quinn and Brendan Fay at other St Patrick's parades in the Bronx and on 5th Ave which continue to exclude LGBT groups

The celebration opens with blessings by Protestant, Catholic, Jewish and Native American leaders. Deputy Consul General Brendan O’ Caollai will represent the Irish Government.

St. Pats For All 2010 began with a concert at the Irish Arts Center on Tuesday, March 2nd and bringing musicians and performers which include The Washington Square Harp & Shamrock Orchestra, Niall O’Leary School of Irish Dance, Malachy McCourt, Michael Patrick McDonald, Keltic Dream Dancers of P.S/ 59 and modern dancer Russell Brown. Arriving from County Clare was master bodhran player Brian Fleming who blends African drumming rhythms with traditional Irish aires.

Irish groups marching include the O’Donovan Rossa Society, Brehon Law Society, Rosemary Nelson memorial group, Irish language group An Slua Nua, and The Winged Fist organization (carrying banners of Irish American sports heroes of the 1908 Olympics). Also marching will be local Queens Boys and Girls clubs, The Girl Scouts, the FDNY Office of Recruitment, Catholic and Protestant parishes, including the St. Nicholas of Tolentine parish. Gay community groups include the parents group PFLAG Queens, members of Lavender and Green Alliance, Dignity NY (a group for LGBT Catholics) and SAGE (a senior citizen outreach program). The American Red Cross will serve tea and hot chocolate.

 Parade honoree Dromm is the New York City Council’s only openly gay Spanish-speaking Irish American. Chair of the council’s Immigration Committee, Dromm is a St. Pat’s for All parade co-founder, teacher and UFT organizer. A unifying leader for Queens and for the City, Dromm, along with his mother Audrey, pushed back against tides of ignorance and prejudice in the Queens public scholl system and communities. Lanning, community leader and insurance executive, is also Chair of the NYC Clothing Bank and of YES!Solutions, providing food, clothing, and relief efforts to immigrant families, displaced children, the elderly, and the homeless.

“In banners and words we honor Irish heroes St. Brigid, St. Patrick, peacemakers Dan and Phil Berrigan, Ita Ford, Maura Clarke and Mother Jones. Human rights lawyer Frank Durkan and 9/11 chaplain Fr. Mychal Judge were the parade supporters and so we proudly honor them as well,” said Fay.

Parade sponsors include  YES! SOLUTIONS, Time Warner, Technical Career Institute, Skyline Hotel, UFT, the Irish Arts Center, 1199, Dignity/NY, and local Sunnyside/Woodside businesses, including Butcher Block, Bar 43, The Kettle, Saints & Sinners and Pure Spa.

Co-chair Kathleen Walsh D’Arcy, writer and social worker states that the “St. Patrick's parade embraces everyone young and old in Queens, the most ethnically diverse borough of New York. Children are the stars of this parade. In the words of the Irish constitution ‘we cherish all the children equally' and we proudly host children performing throughout parade, watching along the route, and enjoying the festivities with their families. The best part of the parade is watching the expressions on kids' faces as they watch the puppets and hear the pipers,” said D’Arcy.

Parade begins at 43rd St. and Skillman Ave at 1pm, Sunday March 7th. Subway stop: 40th St. on the 7 line. To register or learn more about the parade, visit or call 718-721-2780. Post parade party at Saints & Sinners, 60th St. and Roosevelt Ave.
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For more information about NYC's inclusive St. Patrick's parade log on to our web site:
New York, NY 10023

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