NEW YORK (AP) _ The Empire State Building, which is illuminated with green lights every St. Patrick's Day and red, white and blue for the Fourth of July, will be awash in lavender this month to honor Gay Pride Weekend.

The building's managers agreed to the special display after six years of lobbying by homosexual rights groups. The lavender lights will be on June 22-24. Lavender is the traditional color of the gay rights movement.

''We are in total agreement with ... leaders who seek to end the bigotry and discrimination directed against gay and lesbian New Yorkers,'' the manager, Helmsley-Spear Inc., said in a statement. ''We hope our participating will help end the type of ignorance that breeds this mindless prejudice.''

The decision was made at the request of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. It was one of hundreds of requests for special lightings the 102-story building receives annually.

Helmsley-Spear's statement did not say why the decision took six years. A spokesman, Robert Udowitz, declined to elaborate.

On June 21, the top 30 stories of the Empire State will be illuminated with black, gold and green lights - the colors of the African National Congress - to mark the June 20-23 visit of ANC Deputy President Nelson Mandela, Udowitz said. On Monday it was blue for ''Unity Day,'' promoting racial harmony.

In other annual displays, the tower is illuminated with yellow and white lights during Easter week and red, black and green lights for Martin Luther King Day.

Gay Pride Weekend includes a march of as many as 150,000 people.