Gays first marched openly in Chicago’s downtown St. Patrick’s Day parade in the mid-1990s, said Tracy Baim, an authority on Chicago’s gay rights movement. She and other gay rights advocates said they weren’t aware of any recent problems with participation, although none could remember any groups trying to march in recent years.
In Savannah, Ga., where Irish immigrants and their descendants have been celebrating St. Patrick’s Day for 190 years, openly gay groups have long been absent from the city’s parade.
Local gay business leaders began lobbying for a slot in the parade in the 1990s, but were told by the private committee that organizes the parade that its applications were denied because they were “pushing a political agenda,” said Savannah gay rights activist Kevin Clark.
Clark said the group stopped applying about 10 years ago, deciding that issues such as domestic partner benefits and gay marriage were more important.
“In the big scheme of things, participating in a St. Patrick’s Day parade just doesn’t rise to the level of being worth exerting a lot of energy,” Clark said.