THE STATEN Island St Patrick’s Day Parade has been marred by controversy when a local beauty queen was removed from the event after revealing she is bisexual.
Miss Staten Island, Madison L’Insalata, was originally set to ride the parade route in a red Corvette this past Sunday, March 1.
However, the 23-year-old was abruptly banned from taking centre stage at the event after coming out in an interview with The New York Post.
Larry Cummings, parade president of the Richmond County St. Patrick’s Day Parade, made the decision late on Saturday evening, just hours after the story broke.
Ms L’Insalata was informed of the news by Jim Smith, the director of Miss Staten Island Scholarship Pageants, who said he was contacted by a concerned Mr. Cummings.
"I was stunned by the whole thing. I wasn't prepared. He just said we're worried about her safety, like he's doing us a favour," Mr. Smith told CBS News.
Ms L’Insalata was banned along with another unnamed pageant queen who supported her.
The parade’s organising committee, which operates under the local Ancient Order of the Hibernians chapter, previously came in for criticism after barring the Staten Island Pride Center from participating in the tax-funded event for the third year running.
Mr Cummings defended that decision in an interview with the Staten Island Advance last week, arguing the event was “non-sexual identification parade.”
The parade is only St. Patrick’s march in New York’s five boroughs to prohibit gay groups from participating.
In the wake of the decision, Mayor Bill de Blasio and a handful of local politicians opted to stay away from the parade in protest at the plans.
Ms L’Insalata wasn’t the only person to be blocked from marching in the parade.
City Councilman Joseph Borelli told The New York Post he was refused entry after it was noted that he was wearing a tiny pride pin.
Marching bands from Tottenville and Port Richmond high schools were also apparently turned away for refusing to remove LGBTQ symbols from their uniforms.
There are now growing calls for Mr Cummings to be removed, with an online petition attracting more than 5,000 signatures at the time of writing.
Despite losing her place in the parade, Ms L’Insalata still turned up at the parade standing in among the crowd in a rainbow scarf and heart sticker.
Ms L’Insalata told CBS: “I am proud of Staten Island and I am proud of the title that I have because I know that myself and all the other girls involved do a lot of really great things for our community.
“So it’s a shame that this really great community event, we ended up not being allowed to be a part of.”