Staten Island’s St. Patrick’s Day parade banned Miss Staten Island Madison L’Insalata from participating after she came out as bisexual.
L’Insalata, 23, came out to the New York Post on Saturday, and said she planned to show her support for the LGBTQ community during the Sunday parade by wearing rainbow attire.
“There’s no rule against me wearing a rainbow,” L’Insalata said. “I want people to see the colors and ask questions.”
But hours later, she was banned from participating in the parade for “safety reasons.”
Parade director Larry Cummings contacted pageant director Jim Smith and told him that none of the pageant winners, including L’Insalata, would be riding in the parade, with all winners and their drivers banned.
Two pageant winners — Miss Staten Island’s Outstanding Teen Angelica Mroczek, and Miss Richmond County Gabrielle Ryan — had already announced plans to boycott the parade over its lack of LGBTQ representation.
Ryan, whose mother is lesbian, told the Post that her title meant “standing up for what is right and challenging what is wrong, and not just using it as an opportunity to take photos in a pretty crown.”
The Staten Island parade is the only New York City borough that continues to refuse to allow LGBTQ groups to openly participate.
Speaking to the Staten Island Advance last month, Cummings called the parade “a non-sexual identification parade and that’s that,” and said a local Pride Center would not be allowed to participate.
“No, they are not marching,” he added.
But Staten Island District Attorney Michael McMahon told the Advance that Cummings claims of “safety” concerns in banning L’Insalata were questionable.
“The New York City Police Department is in charge of the safety of the people here marching at the parade. I trust them,” McMahon said on Sunday. “I would leave that for them to decide, and I don’t think that’s really a very valid argument.”
Speaking to CNN, L’Insalata said she did “not see [the ban] coming at all.”
“It was a curveball,” she added. “But when I heard it, I was shocked and a bit upset.”
Smith, the pageant director, told CNN that he wasn’t surprised at Cummings’ reaction to L’Insalata’s coming out, saying he “knew nobody would change his mind” about banning the pageant winners.
“It was very difficult to tell them,” he said. “I felt screwed. This was one of the biggest events of the year in Staten Island.”
L’Insalata ultimately attended the parade, wearing a rainbow scarf and sticker, but as a spectator rather than a participant.
WCBS-TV reports that a number of community leaders and fellow spectators applauded her when she appeared, and L’Insalata said she hoped it would further discussion about LGBTQ representation in the parade.
“I knew that people would talk about it, and that’s all I wanted,” she said, “Because the more people that know about it, the more likely it is to change.”
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