11/19/14

Op-ed in the Irish Echo -- Un-burying Irish queer lives

The Irish Echo has been running letters and opinion pieces challenging the NYC parade organizers to catch up with Irish culture, and drop their ridiculous ban. The miserableness of letting NBC gay employees march, but not Irish LGBTQ groups, is noted. Larry Kirwan wrote a particularly nice piece last week.

It's been impossible to post links to those pieces because the paper is not really online, but some clips are here.

Today the Irish Echo printed an Irish Queers op-ed. Given the effort to silence Irish Queers and sanitize queer Irish history, we really appreciate it! Here is the original version, which includes a few bits of history that didn't make it into the Echo.

Maybe you remember: the early 1990s were a time of queer political rising, much of which was centered in New York. I was growing up in New York then but I didn’t know much about it. When ACT UP protested Cardinal O’Connor’s campaign against condoms, I was in ninth grade about 40 blocks away, oblivious. A year later the Irish Lesbian & Gay Organization marched in the St. Patrick’s Day parade, unwelcomed by the parade committee but invited by a breakaway AOH Division 7. ILGO, joined by Mayor David Dinkins, were assaulted and taunted all along the parade route. I did hear about that. My grandmother had given me a t-shirt and I’d been wearing it to shreds – it said Life’s Too Short Not To Be Irish! On the back of it, in pearlescent fabric paint, I lettered it “I.L.G.O.” It was just in solidarity. Grown people tittering and panicking over the gays, and then bullying them on the street! I was indignant. Our English teacher, Kathleen somebody, raised her eyebrows high as I passed her in the hallway. That was the extent of my participation in the New York queer explosion of those years.

I landed in Belfast in 1994. I’d dropped out of college and needed to go somewhere. My family had roots in the North. By then I had come out myself. ACT UP, ILGO, and the Lesbian Avengers – all home to queer Irish émigrés who had worked in republican and pro-choice and feminist movements at home in the 1980s – had been churning out the queer Zeitgeist. Although I missed it in New York, I had finally caught it in college. Knowing nothing about the Irish queer political currents that carried me, I arrived in Belfast a queer activist.

Queer organizing in Belfast was small, constrained by everything from the Troubles to religion to the permanent absence of privacy. There was no queer group at Queen’s University, where I was enrolled; there had been one, it seemed, but no one would lend their name as a contact and it fell apart. I called a meeting, and the cast began to assemble. There was a young waif from Lurgan, always seen in his pancake makeup, bristling as joyfully with contempt for authority as with love for a crowd of laughing queers parading down the street toward Lavery’s. (He’s still my beloved favorite.) A tired man from West Belfast had had and was still having a very rough time. He usually came around with a younger friend, both of whom were always in battle over housing, always recently bashed and bruised. There was a great woman who – to my happiness – embraced the idea of direct action. She went on to be a union organizer. There were drummers, waitresses, revolutionaries, zine-makers, and more. It was a terrific crowd.


When the term ended and I was leaving, again no one would lend their name to the group. We brainstormed. We eureka’d: a telephone number without a name was just as good, as long as someone could always answer it. A telephone needed to be somewhere – we needed a space. We could do that. If we disbanded now, no worries at all. We’d gather our resources and meet back up in a year, and then we would make it happen.

I came home. Giuliani was mayor, Bratton was police commissioner, and together they were attacking poor people, people of color, people with AIDS, and any activists who protested. This particular time in Ireland – on the heels of feminism, the frustrated abortion rights movement, and the ongoing power of the Catholic church; and in the North, following the Hunger Strikes and Save Ulster from Sodomy – saw many politicized queers exiled to New York. Here they had formed Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization, joined ACT UP, and cofounded the Lesbian Avengers. ACT UP was at a fever pitch trying to build and protect public supports for people with AIDS, and fight the biases used to justify letting them die. The Lesbian Avengers were challenging the erasure of lesbians from history and school curricula, with the slogan “I was a lesbian child.” ILGO had decided it should march in the St. Patrick’s Day parade, the biggest celebration in the world of Irishness and the Irish diaspora experience. All three groups shared the logic that making queers invisible did violence both to the past and literally, daily, to queers. The parade organizers, representing the closed, church-bound Ireland from which they had come, could not bring themselves to admit that Irish queers were real, much less a central part of Irish life and history. The parade had become a flashpoint for struggles over queerness, religion, policing, immigrant community politics, and the City’s complicity in homophobia and violence. In truth, Irish politics and queer politics had never been separate; only the connections obscured. Now the ties were laid absolutely bare.

I went to an ILGO meeting early in 1995 to ask whether ILGO could help fundraise for a queer space in Belfast. It’s a joke now, that memory; fundraising was never going to happen, ILGO was not that kind of girl. But I was drawn in. The meetings were more than planning sessions. They were multigenerational in-gatherings of queers that taught politics. They broke with good manners in the face of crisis that was killing queers. They rejected the idea that dialogue and demands always had to be reasonable, and that peaceful activism couldn’t express rage toward people who were responsible for terrible things. They taught collectivism, building ideas and plans together, sharing responsibility, and passing along skills, difficult as the meetings often were. They taught that it was important and possible to do things without funding – we never stopped hearing that the Lesbian Herstory Archives bought its Brooklyn townhouse with $1 and $5 donations mailed in from lesbians everywhere – and that queer groups especially always had people with an incredible range of experience, skills and access. Most critically, they taught that it was possible to do things that sounded impossible: add queer history and sex ed to the NYC public school curriculum, or force the US government to invent better medications for HIV. (No one dreamed it would be easier to make the US government deal with AIDS and homophobia than to get an Irish gay group into the Irish parade.) Later, when I’d left that space, the exact same things felt less possible; it had been a communal effect.

In 1997 I was in Belfast again, as promised. I’d raised no money, but had bought boxes and boxes of used and remaindered books from queer shops. I started meeting my old friends for coffee, and they found other people to join in. We deliberately talked about the community space project as if it were already happening. (That was advice from Dermot Burke, who had opened An Béal Bocht in Riverdale a few years before. It was fantastic advice.) We made a primitive website announcing the project, and put up signs. More and more Belfast queers came to planning meetings. There were more musicians and more waitresses, social workers and civil servants, an East Belfast taxi driver, a witch, a student union president, a disproportionate number of Jews, students, more revolutionaries, a farmer, and many, many queers without an occupation. Before long the whole thing was real.

Queer Space opened in January 1998, in a space rented with a small loan, at the bottom of Botanic Avenue. On a crowded pre-opening workday we painted it purple, and someone drew a mural in the style of Keith Haring. We set up a coffee pot and a donation basket. Two women from the Shankill took on the task of keeping both full. Emma Donaghue sent a set of her novels to Queer Space that week, and we unboxed them along with the tattered books I’d brought over. We hung a bit of handkerchief art painted by a queer republican prisoner. Two West Belfast women delivered a huge amount of comfortable furniture. We were home.

Queer Space was intensively modeled on the direct action collectivism of the New York groups. To publicize the opening, we sent a press release; the reporter called Ian Paisley for comment, and the article generated a short controversy. In that way our publicity was taken care of and visitors streamed in. We made a mission statement and rules by consensus, and settled on the name Queer Space after hours of debate in a packed room. We took up direct action, wheatpasting Belfast with signs about lesbians, protesting Newt Gingrich’s visit to North Belfast, convening queers and Asian immigrants who had started to come under attack, and truly I can’t remember what else. The coffee box paid the rent, and it paid back the start-up loan less than a year after Queer Space opened its doors.

When Matthew Shepard was killed and queers in New York City were standing off against riot police on horseback, I came home. Some of the other Queer Space folk moved on to more official politics, especially when the Good Friday Agreement made queers a protected minority. Queer Space carries on these 16 years later. I would claim that it changed everything in Belfast; that it opened up possibilities at a time when people were ready for a change, and other stars were aligning too. Queer Space still turns out Belfast queers for antiracist action, most recently in support of Anna Lo, the Stormont MLA hounded out of office by anti-Chinese racism. Queer Space always comes out for Irish Queers on St. Patrick’s Day parade protests, although Belfast queers are incredulous that we’re still not allowed to march. Funny how the tables have turned.


The story of Irish queers and the parade is really the story of the transit between Ireland and New York of ideas about liberation. It’s the story of how Irishness hasn’t been only Catholic or white or male, nor especially polite, nor limited to venues marked “Irish.” These are true and important stories whether anyone likes them or not. When the parade exclusion comes up, we’re often told we’re not really part of the Irish community, as if it’s that – rather than homophobia – that keeps us out. It’s a pitiful attempt at diversion, but there’s something in it. After two decades of being shoved out of Irish history by the New York parade, why at all would Irish LGBTQ folk stick around the official Irish American community? We have not. Our communities don’t do dinner dances, nor play golf, nor elect Irish American candidates to office. Just as queers have made their own spaces forever, we make our own worlds here. They are Irish worlds in spite of begrudgers’ wishes to the contrary. The transit between queer Ireland and queer New York is as vibrant as ever. Look for it.

A different conversation in the Irish Echo...

The Irish Echo isn't online in any accessible way, but there's been a pretty rational and supportive conversation happening there about the sad parade sadness.

Here are some clips:

So many miles, so many changes
by Larry Kirwan, 11/18/14

“Where once Irish embassy and consulate officials preferred the lace-curtain certainties of D.C. and NYC, now they travel nationwide to festivals and cultural events, as willing to listen as to lecture. And still I feel that a certain potential is unrealized – and I’m not talking about investment in Ireland, or boosting tourism; no, rather a meeting of minds, or even more importantly perhaps, a union of hearts between the home country and the Diaspora…

“Irish America is often seen to be rigid and static. Nothing could be further from the truth. The social changes of the last few years have been startling: legalized gay marriage is sweeping the states along with a general forbearance, if not total, acceptance of this alternate life-style. But then there’s always been a latent Libertarian streak in American culture that encourages people to be what they are.

“How odd then that cosmopolitan New York City should provide the one major issue with which Irish Americans can be whipped every year. Though there was initial relief on both sides of the Atlantic when the LGBT group from NBC was invited to march in the 2015 St. Patrick’s Day parade, it has since come to be seen for what it is – a short-term effort to stop the hemorrhaging of sponsorship...

“We can argue ‘til the cows come home about Catholic doctrine and who should or shouldn’t march, but it’s time to put all that behind us and use plain and unvarnished logic…

“We’re a big people, we handled Know-Nothings and the tragedy of 9/11; we can take cultural change in our stride, and in a couple of years both the Irish in Ireland and Irish America will look back and wonder what the fuss was all about.”

 -------------

Letter ("Lost the Plot") 10/21/14

"One has to wonder if years of marching to the sound of bagpipes has taken its toll on the hearing and senses of the NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee for its current decision to allow OUT@NBCUniversal to march in the 2015 St. Patrick’s Day parade would seem to indicate that they are certainly tone deaf and addled.

That an LGBT group would march in the NYC parade was a moral, never mind pragmatic inevitability, and it is not my intention to question that. If the decision was made to allow an Irish or Irish American LGBT group to march many of us would breathe a sigh of relief…

However, in its continued impersonation of the Keystone Cops, the parade committee has thrown the baby out with the bath water… the parade has now become “Irish Optional” with participation and placement up for sale…

Meanwhile, groups that are Irish American the other 364 days of the year… [are] pushed to the back of the parade to march up empty streets and past an empty reviewing stand as the committee has long since retreated to a warm room where they can pat each other on the back over a cocktail.

The NYC St. Patrick’s Day parade committee has lost the plot… They have “taken the soup” and have sold their soul, and the parade, to corporate sponsors.

10/12/14

Join IQ for prisoner letter writing, monthly.

Irish Queers is meeting monthly for political prisoner letter-writing! Please contact us to be added to the announcement list for letter-writing plus eats, drinks, and/or good company.

For October we'll be joining ABC's letter-writing/vegan dinner this coming Tuesday, Oct. 14 @ 7pm. After that, we'll be Irish Queers-ing it up with our own writing/meetings, in addition to supporting other folks' events.

Here's ABC's event description. Please come!

WHAT: Political Prisoner Letter-Writing Dinner
WHEN: 7pm (sharp), Tuesday, October 14th, 2014
WHERECAGE – 83A Hester Street (UPSTAIRS) New York, New York 10002 (directions below)
COST: Freeluke_o'donovan
Have you ever been squarely punched in the nose? If so, you know how disorienting it is. Of course there’s the pain, but with the punch comes a lot of blood and a shockwave through your skull. Your head gets rocked back and the violence is all too palpable. The language and imagery of violence is again (still?) in vogue, popularized by folks who have likely never meted out or received much of it. It’s difficult for us in NYC ABC not to feel disgusted when we see this trend followed in radical communities, knowing the kind of violence our friends and comrades regularly endure. 
It is with violence and a radical defense against it in mind that we focus our next political prisoner letter-writing dinner on Luke O’Donovan. On New Year’s Eve of 2013, Luke was seen dancing with and kissing other men at a house party. Later in the night he was insulted with homophobic slurs, and attacked by several people. Luke unsuccessfully attempted to escape, at which point several witnesses reported watching between 5 and 12 men ganging-up on Luke and stomping on his head and body, evidently with the intent to kill him. Luke was called a faggot before and during the attack. Throughout the course of the attack, Luke and five others were stabbed. Luke was subsequently imprisoned and charged with five counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon as well as one count of attempted murder while none of the other individuals involved in the altercation were charged. 
Luke’s trial concluded on August 12, 2014, when he accepted a plea deal. While initially facing over 100 years in prison, the deal Luke accepted includes two years in prison and eight years on probation. At the time of sentencing, the judge added to the negotiated plea that Luke will bebanished from the state of Georgia for the eight years of his probation.
We’re lucky to have a guest speaker who was in Atlanta for Luke’s court proceedings and will have more information on Luke’s case and ways to help.
While we expect to see you on Tuesday, if you can’t make it, please take the time to write a letter to Luke: 
Luke Patrick O’Donovan #1001372271Washington State PrisonPost Office Box 206Davisboro, Georgia 31018 
The deal, as always, is that you come bringing only yourself (and your friends and comrades), and we provide you with a delicious vegan meal, information about the prisoners as well as all of the letter-writing materials and prisoner-letter-writing info you could ever want to use in one evening. In return, you write a thoughtful letter to a political prisoner or prisoner of war of your choosing or, better yet, keep up a long-term correspondence. We’ll also provide some briefupdates and pass around birthday cards for the PP/POWs whose birthdays fall in the next two weeks thanks to the PP/POW Birthday Calendar. 
DIRECTIONS:
Getting to CAGE is simple:
From the J/M/Z:
Essex Street Stop: Walk west on Delancey Street (toward Essex Street, away from Norfolk Street) and make a left on Essex Street. Walk three blocks and turn right onto Hester Street. We’re two and a half blocks down, on the right.
From the F:
East Broadway Stop: Walk north on Rutgers Street (toward East Broadway, away from Henry Street), that becomes Essex Street, and turn left on Hester Street. We’re two and a half blocks down, on the right.
From the B/D:
Grand Street Stop: Walk east on Grand Street (Toward Forsyth Street, away from Chrystie Street) and turn right on Orchard Street. Walk one block and turn right onto Hester Street. We’re a few storefronts down on the right.
If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch. Otherwise, we’ll see you at supper.
This event is brought to you by your friendly neighborhood Anarchist Black Cross.

NYC ABC
Post Office Box 110034
Brooklyn, New York 11211
nycabc[at]riseup[dot]net
http://nycabc.wordpress.comhttp://www.facebook.com/nycabchttp://twitter.com/nycabchttp://instagram.com/nycabchttp://www.abcf.net/nycFree all Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War!
For the Abolition of State Repression and Domination!

10/10/14

Irish/queer communities to Mayor & NYC Council Speaker: the ban is not lifted, keep the pressure on!


Mayor deBlasio & Speaker Mark-Viverito:
Keep up the boycott of the NYC St. Patrick’s Day parade until Irish LGBTQ groups can march under their own banner.

Oct. 9, 2014

Dear Mayor de Blasio and Speaker Mark-Viverito,

Last year, your public boycott of the anti-gay NYC St. Patrick's Day parade finally paved the way for corporate sponsors to drop the parade. Their departure created pressure on NBC, one of the last remaining sponsors and the broadcaster of the parade, who put pressure on the parade organizers to finally end their ban on Irish LGBTQ groups.

Instead of that pressure leading to Irish LGBTQ groups taking their rightful place in the community's parade, OUT@NBCUniversal has jumped into the space it created. OUT@NBCUniversal is the gay employee/marketing group of the parade's sponsor. The Irish LGBTQ community is still excluded from the parade. The “lifting of the ban” is a sham.

Parade organizers have said that Irish LGBTQ groups may “apply” to march in future St. Patrick’s Day Parades from 2016 on, claiming that there is no room for another group in 2015. This is the same ruse they used in 1991 when they wanted to exclude the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization. When Mayor Dinkins called their bluff and offered to expand the march to allow ILGO in, the organizers came out in the open with their anti-gay reasons for excluding them. This year, when Irish LGBTQ groups applied, parade organizers quickly declared that applications were closed. In the fallout from this gay-panic response, the Catholic League also dropped out of the 2015 march, leaving the parade short of one large contingent. As before, parade organizers simply refuse to let Irish LGBTQ groups march in the newly-opened space.

State and national LGBTQ advocacy groups, as well as groups in Ireland, are supporting the demand for Irish LGBTQ groups to march openly and freely, rather than seeking to march themselves or supporting OUT@NBCUniversal's participation.

Irish LGBTQ groups have also asked OUT@NBCUniversal to withdraw from the parade until Irish LGBTQ groups are part of the parade.

We write to ask that you continue to publicly boycott the parade until Irish LGBTQ groups are accepted into the line of march, and march openly, as full and respected members of the Irish American community.

Because the parade organizers have made misleading claims like “gays are welcome to march, just not to be identified” and now “the ban is lifted, but only for NBC employees”, it's important to be clear about what constitutes inclusion. Irish LGBTQ groups must be able to march just like other contingents: with the group name on a banner identifying the contingent as Irish LGBTQ people. Last year in Boston, parade organizers tried to negotiate with an LGBTQ contingent to march under the word “equality.” But the organizers refused to allow a banner to say “LGBT” or “gay”, as if those were dirty words. So the LGBTQ group rightly declared that parade organizers were not actually willing to lift the ban, and they refused to march. New York City also cannot accept such pretenses at inclusion.

We deeply appreciate your support. Please be in touch with your response, or if we can answer any questions.

Sincerely,



Gaby Cryan, Emmaia Gelman, & J.F. Mulligan
Irish Queers

Kate Barnhart, Executive Director           
New Alternatives for LGBT Homeless Youth

Mary E. Bartholomew, Esq.

Sandy Boyer

Rev. Pat Bumgardner
Metropolitan Community Church - NY

Suzy Byrne

Leslie Cagan

Kailin Callaghan, Lead Organizer
Rockaway Wildfire

Fidelma Carolan, Regional Officer (N. Ireland)
UNISON

Kelly Cogswell, Author of Eating Fire: My Life as a Lesbian Avenger

Michael Czaczkes, President
Lambda Independent Democrats of Brooklyn

Kara Davis, Queer Activist

Bill Dobbs, Gay Civil Libertarian

Erin M. Drinkwater, Executive Director
Brooklyn Community Pride Center

Ronnie Eldridge, Former New York City Councilmember

Jennifer Flynn, Executive Director
VOCAL-NY

Kathleen Gaul
Community Leader at TUSLA, Ireland
Emily Jane Goodman, New York State Supreme Court Justice, Ret.

Marie Honan

Tony Hoffmann, President, Village Independent Democrats*

Stephanie Hsu, Secretary
New York Association for Gender Rights Advocacy (NYAGRA)

Andy Humm and Ann Northrop, Co-Hosts
Gay USA

Esther Kaplan

Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz

Marjorie Dove Kent, Executive Director
Jews for Racial and Economic Justice

SL Korn, Queer Activist

Gareth Lee,
Queer Space Collective Belfast

Bertha Lewis, Executive Director
Black Institute

Mark Libkuman, Open Flows Community Technology Cooperative

Scott Long, Human Rights Activist

Amanda Lugg, Director of Advocacy
African Services Committee

Alan Levine, Civil Rights Attorney

Father Bernárd Lynch, London, Chair of Camden LGBT Forum

Anne Maguire, ILGO

Eileen Markey, Writer

Malachy McCourt

Lucy McDiarmid

Matthew McMorrow, Manager of Government Affairs
Empire State Pride Agenda

Zenaida Mendez, President
National Organization for Women-NYS

Megan Mulholland
QUEEROCRACY

Dr Tina O'Toole, Founder member of LINC Cork
University of Limerick, Ireland

Pauline Park, Executive Director
Queens Pride House

Edward Pass

Allen Roskoff, President
Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club

Sarah Schulman, Distinguished Professor of the Humanities, City University of New York-College of Staten Island

Arthur Z. Schwartz, President of Advocates for Justice and Democratic District Leader for Greenwich Village

Tom Shanahan, Civil Rights Attorney

Ailbhe Smyth, LGBT Rights Campaigner
Former Head of Women's Studies and Senior Lecturer, University College Dublin (UCD)


Brad Taylor

Zephyr Teachout, former candidate for Governor, Professor Fordham Law School, and author of Corruption in America

Jay Toole
Jay’s House

Andy Velez

John Voelcker

Urvashi Vaid, Senior Fellow, Center for Gender & Sexuality Law, Columbia Law School*

Maxine Wolfe, Professor Emerita, City University Graduate School

Joan Wile, Author, and Founder, Grandmothers Against the War

Tim Wu, Candidate for Lieutenant Governor/Professor Columbia Law School

Adalah-NY: The New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel

Lesbian Herstory Archive

MIX NYC: Queer Experimental Film Festival

Queer Nation NY







*Asterisk indicates organization listed for identification purposes only.



9/15/14

Irish LGBTQs to Gay Inc: Please don't apply to march

[This letter was emailed to national LGBT advocacy organizations on Sept. 7 and 8, 2014.]

9/8/14

Dear LGBT advocacy organizations,

As we're sure you know, Irish LGBTQ groups have been fighting for inclusion in the NYC St. Patrick's Day Parade for over 20 years. Irish Queers (and its predecessor, the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization, and other groups and allies) has suffered hundreds of arrests for civil disobedience, many years of protesting from the sidelines, and an endless history of enduring insults, threats and beer bottles thrown by parade participants and spectators. Brendan Fay and His Lavender and Green Alliance created a now much-respected and beloved St. Pat's for All inclusive parade in Queens.

Nothing has deterred us from showing up every year on Fifth Avenue and continuing to demand inclusion as Irish people and Irish-Americans in what should be our parade, too. Our annual exclusion is the subject of worldwide headlines every year.

Now the headlines have changed. But the war is not yet won. Parade organizers are trying to finesse their loss of major sponsors by offering a place in the line of march to an LGBTQ employee group from NBC (the parade broadcaster). Parade organizers did not discuss this with any of us, nor have they made a single move to include an actual Irish LGBTQ group.

So we are making formal application for inclusion in the 2015 Parade. We would like your support. We would like you to show up at our press conference on Tues., Sept. 9, at 9am on the steps of the NY Public Library at Fifth Ave. and 40th St. We would like you to contact the parade organizers to support our application. 

And we would like you NOT to apply to march yourselves. This is an explicitly Irish heritage parade. That's why we should be included. Because we are groups of Irish LGBT people. This parade is unique. Unlike the LGBTQ Pride Parades or the Puerto Rican Day Parade or most others, this one does not welcome all comers. It's very closed and specific.

Please do not apply to march. Please support the application of Irish LGBTQ people to march.

Thank you,

Irish Queers
Lavender and Green Alliance
St. Pat's for All

9/11/14

Parade "too long" to let IQ in? Catholic League has just made room.

The Catholic League, huge supporter of the parade till now.
The NYC St. Patrick's Day parade is a hot mess. Being secretive and bossy and then trying to keep your story straight is super complicated. The parade organizers did something silly when they conspired with NBC to let its gay employee marketing group join the parade, but not Irish LGBTQ groups.

Amazingly, it seems like they thought it would pass quietly, or even that they'd be celebrated for their magnanimity. After all these years, they still don't get that you can't run a community's parade -- a very diverse community of millions across many countries -- as if it were a secret club with offices in a locker room.

They also seem to think we don't remember the tricks they've used in the past to pretend they weren't excluding anyone. (Set aside the strange argument that LGBT people are welcome to march as long as they march in the closet, unidentified.) First they tell us (through the press) that we "can apply to march" and then they tell us they can't take our application because "they're under pressure to shorten the parade." Are we talking about 1992 or 2014? Hard to tell!

The parade committee unleashed an outpouring of support for LGBT marchers when they announced the (fake) end of the ban last week. Given that outpouring, they panicked when all of NYC's Irish LGBT groups applied to march. Hemming and hawing, they pretended the applications were suddenly closed. No more room in the parade! The position is filled! Fifth Avenue is only so many blocks long, you know.

But the Catholic League got thrown out with the parade's panicky bathwater. They'd been promised an anti-abortion group could apply and march in exchange for NBC's gay marchers. Who knew the applications would be gay-panic-closed before they got to do that? The logistics of exclusion are really so complicated. So the Catholic League has pulled out of the parade.

And that makes room for one more contingent. It seems there's room in the parade after all for Irish LGBT people, huh,

9/9/14

Statement: Still here, still queer, still Irish; and applying to march.


(Photo: Donna Aceto, Gay City News 9/9/14)

Sept. 9, 2014

Last week we learned that the NYC St. Patrick's Day parade made a backroom deal to invite OUT@NBC Universal, a gay marketing group, to march in the 2015 parade. Today, Irish Queers are applying to march in the 2015 St. Patrick’s Parade, along with Lavender and Green Alliance and St. Pat’s for All.

It’s no secret that parade organizers don’t want to admit that Irish LGBT people are part of the Irish community; and that they use their control over the parade permit to keep us out. Two decades of calls from Ireland and NYC to end the bigotry have not changed the parade committee’s minds.

They’re under pressure now, but they haven’t changed their tune. When Guinness, Heineken, and elected officials dropped out of the parade last year, NBC told the parade committee they couldn’t keep sponsoring unless the anti-gay ban were lifted. So OUT@NBC offered itself as a painless solution. Gay corporate staff can march (under a banner that doesn’t say the word “gay”), NBC saves face, and the parade keeps NBC’s sponsorship – without doing a thing to end the exclusion of Irish LGBT groups.

Parade organizers have said in the press that Irish LGBT groups “can apply to march in future years” and that inviting NBC’s gays is “a gesture of goodwill.” This is an unwelcome bit of Irish nostalgia. ILGO was also told by parade organizers in the early 1990s to "apply to march." The organizers pretended ILGO was on a waiting list because the parade was too long, and made excuses for refusing our application that were uncovered later in court.

Now, less than a week since their “gesture of goodwill”, the parade committee is saying they can’t entertain our application because they’re “under pressure to shorten the parade.” ARE. YOU. SERIOUS.

We’re submitting our application today. And we’re calling on OUT@NBC Universal to refuse to march until Irish LGBT groups march in the Irish parade, under our own banners. We call on OUT@NBC not to be pawns in this triangulation of homophobia, money, and PR.

We want to march up Fifth Avenue as an Irish diaspora that has finally joined Ireland in rejecting religion-fueled bigotry. Let Irish queer groups finally take our place in this year's parade.


###

9/7/14

Join IQ for press conf. - applying to march!

Please join Irish Queers, the Lavendar and Green Alliance and St. Pat's for All this Tuesday as we announce our applications to march in the St Patrick's Day parade in 2015.


Tues. Sept. 9, 9am

Steps of the NY Public Library, 40th St and Fifth Ave.!


Last week parade organizers announced a secret deal permitting only the gay employee group of the parade's corporate sponsor -- and not any Irish LGBTQ groups -- to march in the parade. 


We apply while remembering that ILGO was also told by the parade organizers to “apply to march”. The parade organizers- many of the same people who will review our application now, told ILGO that they were on a waiting list, which was a lie. Applying again is “our gesture of goodwill”.


So many hundreds of queers, Irish community activists, and supporters have worked to end bigotry and exclusion in the parade -- come out, everyone!


Info: 917-517-3627 or irishqueers@gmail.com


Web: http://irishqueers.blogspot.com

9/3/14

Statement on St Patrick's Parade/OUT@NBC announcement

Irish Queers -- along with the scores of LGBT individuals, groups, and allies who have fought since 1991 for a parade that includes the whole Irish community -- is learning about the change in the NYC St Patrick's Day parade at the same time as the rest of New York City and the Irish community. We welcome this cracking of the veneer of hate, but so far Irish LGBT groups are still not able to march in our community's parades. The fight continues.

This is a deal that was made behind closed doors between parade organizers and one of their last remaining sponsors, NBC. It allows NBC's gay employees to march, but embarrassingly has not ended the exclusion of Irish LGBT groups. The parade organizers have said, astoundingly, that we "can apply" in years to come.

To the extent that parade organizers have changed their tune, it's the result of Irish Queers' many years of organizing, which led to last year's refusal to march by Council Speaker Mark-Viverito and others, and Mayor de Blasio, the withdrawal of major corporate sponsors and escalating criticism of uniformed city workers marching in the Parade.

We welcome this small victory, but our call remains the same -- the parade must be open to Irish LGBT groups, not "in subsequent years" but now. (We remember too well how parade organizers used fake waiting lists to bury our appications before.)

The Irish community in Ireland and abroad is far more progressive than the parade committee, having abandoned the secretive power-mongering of the days when the Catholic Church held sway over politics. We still hope NYC will catch up. This has been a long, long journey and struggle. It is time for Irish LGBT people, marching under our own banner, to take our rightful place in the St. Patrick's Day Parade.

Info: 917-517-3627 or irishqueers@gmail.com

irishqueers.blogspot.com