City Council Speaker Christine Quinn boycotted the parade over the flap, and a Democratic group says it was hassled when it tried to march in solidarity with gays and lesbians.
“They tried to take us out,” said Dominick DeRubbio, 25, of the Young Democrats of Richmond County. He said that parade organizers and police swarmed the group – which includes both gay and straight members – when it started marching wearing rainbow pins and other symbols of the gay pride movement.
“He grabbed my jacket and tried to rip the [rainbow] ribbon off of me,” St. Jermaine Endeley, 20, said of his confrontation with a parade official. “It’s not fair. This is America. I can wear what I want.”
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Parade organizer James Haynes did not return several calls for comment, but a parade official insisted to The News that “no group was excluded” from the parade.
Leaders of Staten Island Pride Events, a social group, said they were told they could march only if they agreed not to carry a banner that would violate Catholic doctrine.
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The group then turned to Quinn for help – and got banned.
“The told us we couldn’t march because we contacted Christine Quinn,” said Gerard Mawn, a Staten Island Pride co-founder. “I was stunned.” Mawn instead joined Quinn at an inclusive parade in Sunnyside, Queens.
The Staten Island parade is partly funded by the City Council, which gave its organizers $2,500 last year.
Quinn, an Irish-American lesbian who has marched in the Staten Island parade for the last five years, usually with her father, said she won’t return until everyone is included.
Quinn has long boycotted the Fifth Ave. St. Patrick’s Day parade for the same reason.