Staten Islanders marched proudly in the New York City borough's annual St. Patrick's Day parade Saturday but Miss Staten Island was restricted to the sidelines, reports CBS New York.
Just hours after Madison L'Insalata came out publicly as bisexual, CBS News reported that organizers banned her from taking part.
"It's really hurtful. Nobody likes to feel rejected from their community," said 23-year-old L'Insalata.
Director of Miss Staten Island Scholarship Pageants, Jim Smith, broke the news to L'Insalata on Saturday night, according to CBS News. Smith said parade organizer Larry Cummings called him to say L'Insalata and another pageant queen who supported her were banned.
"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," L'Insalata said. "So it's a shame that this really great community event, we ended up not being allowed to be a part of."
She showed up at the parade anyway, wearing her rainbow scarf and heart sticker, but was only able to watch.
Cummings has been harshly criticized for continuing to ban the Pride Center of Staten Island from participating in the parade. CBS New York tried to speak with Cummings by phone and at his home, but the station's reporter and crew were asked to leave.
L'Insalata went to the parade anyway and CBS News says her mother thought it was hard to watch. "It was hurtful," her mother said.
"I knew that people would talk about it, and that's all I wanted. Because the more people that know about it, the more likely it is to change," L'Insalata said.
CBS News reported that she was applauded by community leaders for her decision to show her true colors at the parade. She's hoping it sparks conversation and inclusion.