(PEOPLE) For the first time in history, LGBT groups will be marching under their own banners at Thursday's iconic New York City St. Patrick's Day Parade.
Hundreds of gay and lesbian participants are expected to walk in the Fifth Avenue event – and they couldn't be more excited for the cultural and societal welcome.
"After 25 years of waiting, of exclusion, of protest, today we celebrate with our Irish community. Today, we are accepted," Brendan Fay, founder of Lavender and Green Alliance, an Irish LGBT group, tells PEOPLE. "Today we cross a historic threshold as Irish people. And I have to say we are feeling the joy of this moment."
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