Tarlach MacNiallais, whose activism for LGBTQ rights extended to New York City’s St. Patrick’s Day parade, has died of COVID-19 complications.
MacNiallais died April 1, and his death was reported Friday by The New York Times. He was 57.
He was an organizer of the St. Pat’s for All Parade in Queens, which included LGBTQ contingents when they were banned from the higher-profile St. Patrick’s Day parade on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. He had long advocated for LGBTQ inclusion in the Manhattan parade, which finally happened in 2016. He eventually became a member of the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade formation committee, and he marched in the Fifth Avenue parade with the Lavender and Green Alliance in 2016, according to the Times.
He continued participating in the St. Pat’s for All Parade as well, and he was among the marchers in this year’s edition, held March 1. At the after-party at Saints & Sinners Pub in Queens, as the crowd sang and cheered, MacNiallais’s voice was “soaring above the lot of us,” his friend Brendan Fay told the Times.
MacNiallais was also an advocate for people with developmental delays, having worked for A.H.R.C. New York City, an organization serving this population, for 35 years.
He was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and became an activist as a university student, both against British rule and for LGBTQ rights. When conservatives in Northern Ireland were fighting to maintain the country’s antisodomy laws and launched a campaign called Save Ulster From Sodomy, MacNiallais helped organize a campaign titled Save Sodomy From Ulster. The repressive laws were eventually repealed.
MacNiallais, who moved to New York City in the 1980s, was diagnosed with COVID-19 in mid-March. Survivors include his husband, Juan Nepomuceno, along with nine siblings, and three stepchildren.