March 16, 2016 at 4:03 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
LGBT contingent cheered in St. Patrick’s Parade
St. Patrick's Parade, gay news, Washington Blade

An LGBT contingent in last Sunday’s St. Patrick’s Parade was cheered by the crowd. (Photo courtesy of Dignity Washington)

Crowds that lined Constitution Avenue, N.W., on Sunday, March 13, to watch D.C.’s 45th Annual St. Patrick’s Parade greeted an LGBT contingent with enthusiastic cheers and applause, according to D.C. LGBT Center official Pat Hawkins and Dignity Washington President Daniel Barutta.

Hawkins, who describes herself as a proud Irish lesbian, served as chief organizer of the LGBT contingent, which was sponsored by the D.C. LGBT Center. Barutta, who says he’s a proud gay Catholic, helped organize Dignity Washington’s participation in the contingent. The group, among other things, sponsors a weekly Sunday Catholic Mass for LGBT Catholics and their families and friends.

“We had a really good reception,” Hawkins told the Washington Blade. “People were so surprised to see us. When they realized who we are they clapped and cheered. They were really nice.”

Hawkins said 30 to 40 people marched in the LGBT contingent. She noted that the LGBT contingent this year was placed in the middle of the parade.

Barutta said he and fellow Dignity members were moved by the positive reaction to the LGBT contingent from crowds that lined the parade route along Constitution Avenue between 7th Street and 17th Street, N.W.

Dignity members wore bright green clothing and rainbow colored sashes. They carried the group’s large banner that, among other things, says “DC’s LGBT Catholics.”

“We got a really good reaction from the crowd from kids to elderly people giving us the thumbs up,” said Barutta.

Sunday’s parade marked the second year in a row that the D.C. LGBT Center organized a contingent in the parade.

In a little-noticed development, parade organizers last year named the D.C. Center’s LGBT contingent as one of 14 contingents out of a total of over 100 to receive a trophy for special recognition. According to parade organizer Susan Sullivan, a panel of judges designated the D.C. Center contingent in the 2015 parade as the “Best Novelty Group.”

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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