Writing ourselves into history.

Thanks to Maggie Lally and Lisa Fane for the photo!
Here's a photo from our best-ever evening out: a warm and friendly toast at the end of a long, bitter road. Hooray for constant friends!

Incredible as it may seem, we now have to write ourselves into history. (We will, it's all good!) There are always the deniers. New Yorks' Irish and Irish American influential homophobes spent many years denying the actual existence of Irish LGBT people, and many more years denying our role in Irish home and diaspora communities. Some might have been happy enough to admit Irish gay people existed, but Irish queers and political radicals had to be cast as outside agitators: never really Irish.

For those who never liked Irish queers, it's easiest now to pretend that the parade committee just had a change of heart. Easiest to pretend the change has nothing to do with a quarter century of protest against the smallness of imagination represented by the parade committee and its politically-wired supporters. The work of pretending away Irish queers, activism, and the gains of civil disobedience has already begun in some of the reporting on the end of the parade ban.

That's a silly pretense, but it's effective. Wherever that story sticks, it makes protest seem wrong-headed. Instead, it routes all conversations about injustice through the boardrooms and backrooms that have created the injustice in the first place. There we become people who wait for change, know our place, never question the set up, nor the foot that kicks us, as the song says.

So our work isn't done until we secure the history, and claim the victory for refusing to shut up when told, and working outside the channels of power.


Thanks and goodbye to Brian Friel

Brian Friel, by Colin Davidson
"For the late playwright the past and our images of it were slippery and treacherous. Truth lay not in public facts but in private fictions."

Read Fintan O'Toole: The Truth According to Brian Friel (10/2/15)


Step out for a victory celebration! This Saturday.

Hey everyone! WE WON!!! The victory in the St. Patrick's Day parade belongs to everyone who supported the protests and organizing over the last 25 years. Stop by for a toast with Irish Queers!

Saturday, Oct. 3
Stonewall Inn, 53 Christopher St. NYC

A toast to never accepting crumbs instead of justice. And to communities sticking together in our many battles against police bigotry, the religious right, and big money politics.
YES WE #$%^& DID!



OMG!!!! We seriously won.
We are happy and relieved to announce that, after 25 years of struggle, we have won! The NYC St. Patrick’s Day parade has dropped its bigoted ban: an Irish LGBTQ contingent will finally march with its own banner in the parade next March 17th.

From the beginning, our demand has been for an Irish LGBTQ contingent to march behind their own banner saying who they are, like all other contingents. Today’s decision to invite the Lavender and Green Alliance does just that!

This is a victory for the grassroots organizing, civil disobedience, and street protest of the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization and its successor, Irish Queers. Protests held the line year after year where politics constantly failed. It’s also a victory for our beautiful queer and Irish community of support, stretching from New York City to Ireland and beyond.

The parade issue has never just been about LGBTQ people. Irish people’s struggles are part of our identity: challenges to religious bigotry, demands for women’s rights, Irish republicanism, and struggles against racism in New York and Ireland are irreducible parts of the Irish experience. Irish queers have often been at the forefront of those struggles. We are proud of the complexity of our lives and histories.

The desire to march and the protests against exclusion began as part of Irish queer people’s work to stem the homophobia-fueled tide of AIDS deaths, to push back on the power of the church in Ireland, and to end the pretense that Irish queers are not a central part of Irish culture and politics. Even as other battles were won, the parade’s ironclad combination of bigotry, religion, money, and city politics made it a long holdout against justice. We are tired but happy to see the end of it.

Our thanks: we’re thankful to the many ordinary New Yorkers who supported us over the last 25 years, as well as the many elected official who refused to march in the parade while we were left out. We’re thankful for David Dinkins and others who made real, tangible tries at giving Irish queer people their rightful place in the parade. And we’re grateful to and proud of the original members of the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization – who were also part of ACT UP, the Lesbian Avengers, and other important queer activist forces – who laid the groundwork for this victory.

We look forward to marching up Fifth Avenue with our community!


Irish Queers statement on John Dunleavy’s ouster

After John Dunleavy’s 25 years of being the standard-bearer for religious homophobia, Irish Queers are of course glad to see him go. Dunleavy’s contributions to the Irish community include likening Irish LGBT people to the KKK, and claiming that being openly gay is a political statement (while insisting with a straight face that the NYC St. Patrick’s Day parade is not a political event.) His positions finally became untenable; it’s only incredible that it has taken so long.

The reasons behind Dunleavy’s ouster are something to celebrate. In the referendum on May 22, Ireland roundly rejected homophobia and the authority of the Catholic church to dictate Irish culture. Irish Queers and its predecessor, the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization, have staged the same battle at the parade. We have posed the legacy of Irishness as a powerfully diverse set of experiences – and a history of throwing off chains – against the religious vision of Irishness as a closed, provincial identity that erases so many people’s real lives. The question of whether queers can take our place in Irish history and culture is now settled.

But the NYC St. Patrick’s Parade Committee is not led by the Irish or Irish American community. The parade is still exclusively held by the same men who enforced anti-gay bigotry over the past two decades. Their version of “inclusion” last year amounted to adding OUT@NBCUniversal instead of an Irish LGBT group. (OUT@NBC were so tightly controlled that, when asked by reporters how it felt to march, gay marchers they said they weren’t allowed to discuss it.) Who knows what exciting version of inclusion they’ll offer us this year with the addition of one more handpicked, battened-down group?

Some voices in Irish New York politics have called for parade organizers to end to the ban on “good” gays – those who have not protested, but instead participated in the fundraiser-and-mass circuit where the parade’s homophobes are welcomed. Taking that advice would be in keeping with the Parade Committee’s history of making the smallest change possible without actually opening the parade to Irish LGBT communities. But we were never in this to reform the men of the Parade Committee.

In breaking other chains, Ireland has represented itself brilliantly – from the referendum, to the rise of antiracist movements, to insisting that water is a human right. If the parade can’t catch on, it will find itself like John Dunleavy: out of time.


Watching Ireland's gay marriage referendum from queer NYC

Photo: mashable.com
Along with the rest of the world, we're watching Ireland today for the marriage referendum. We're not big on marriage… gay marriage in the US has been used as a way to take apart the queer movement that sees gender, race, class, health care, housing, policing, and corporate power as all part of the same web.


Ireland is another place.
  • In Ireland, the campaigning around the referendum has turned up some really intense homophobia, and we hope today's vote shows a victory over that.
  • Conservative religion and church power in Ireland have been challenged so importantly and beautifully in the past decade or so -- today's vote is another huge challenge, and that's unquestionably fabulous.
  • The NO campaign has tried to portray African and other migrants in Ireland as religious, conservative, and homophobic in an ugly racist fashion that mirrors how Western churches have been pushing homophobic laws in African states. Migrants have spoken out against the NO campaign's racism, and against homophobia. Today's YES vote will turn that racism on its head, we hope.
  • The YES campaign has been extremely white (not to mention full of images of queers as just regular folks, which is different in Ireland than here, but not so different...) We hope today's YES vote will make space for queers to be queer again, rather than normal.

 Good luck to Ireland from NYC Irish Queers.


Irish Queers gives it back to OUT@NBC (video)

Today, the day before the annual NYC St. Patrick's Day parade [protest], we thought we should swing by OUT@NBCUniversal's Facebook page. We're already completely appalled by OUT@NBC, the corporate gay/straight/marketing alliance that's marching in the antigay parade to the exclusion of the actual Irish queer groups who have been shoved aside for the last quarter century. But the video we found on their Facebook wall surpassed our expectations of badness.

NBC had made a sort of fake news piece where a gay NBC anchor Thomas Roberts (of Sochi boycott-violating fame) was interviewing the main OUT@NBC guy about how terrific it was that they were marching in the parade. In the video, they pretend to take on the concerns of the LGBT community about how OUT@NBC is undermining us. But they end up assuring everyone who has panned them for undermining the Irish struggle for inclusion (okay, so that's everyone, then) that they're actually doing it for us. Between the smarminess and the squirming, it would be a somewhat satisfying train wreck to watch if it weren't so totally deplorable.

OUT@NBC's video frankly exceeds the capabilities of an outraged press release in response. And OUT@NBC refuses to return our calls, so our options for reply are limited. But we're not the silent types! So you can watch the NBC puff piece here -- or you can watch Irish Queers' version below, in which we rage-eat cookies and finally get to talk smack to the stuffed shirts of OUT@NBC. Are we mad? Yeah, we are. In the American sense of the word.


Press release: At Tues. parade protest, plans to celebrate Irish LGBTQ icons, Bronx cheer for corporate sponsors

PRESS RELEASE – for immediate release
Date: March 15, 2015
Contact: Emmaia Gelman on 917-517-3627

Irish LGBTQ Protest of Exclusion Continues at 2015 NYC St. Patrick's Day Parade
Irish Queers welcome support from NYC officials & Ireland; condemn corporate sponsors.

Press Conference: Tues. March 17, 10:45am at Fifth Ave below W. 57th St.
Protest: Tues. March 17, 11am-1pm, same location.

Irish Queers and allies will protest the exclusion of Irish LGBTQ groups from the St. Patrick's Day Parade this Tuesday, March 17 at 11am. This year’s protest will feature images of cherished figures whose Irish or Irish-American and LGBTQ identities are inseparable – all of whom would be closeted or banned by the parade organizers.

Irish Queers is proud to count on the support of Mayor de Blasio and the City Council, who have again withdrawn their participation from this year’s parade, because the parade continues to marginalize and shame Irish LGBTQ people. We’re also proud of the ongoing support for inclusion coming from Ireland – gay and straight – where New York’s bigoted parade is widely regarded as an embarrassment. 

The parade committee's admission this year of the gay/straight alliance of their corporate sponsor, NBC, is not inclusion of Irish LGBTQ groups, but more exclusion. The demand has always been for Irish LGBTQ groups to march under banners that say who we are without shame – not corporate groups, marching behind an “OUT” banner that avoids mentioning “lesbian”, “gay”, “bisexual”, or “transgender.”

“There is no logic to letting OUT@NBC march except as another way to keep Irish LGBTQ groups out,” said Gaby Cryan of Irish Queers. “The parade organizers have claimed a right to discriminate against us because they’re running it as a Catholic procession. But even the Cardinal calls it ‘a celebration of all things Irish.’”

Guinness and Heineken have joined NBC in supporting the discriminatory parade while also claiming that they oppose discrimination.

“Guinness and Heineken, after dropping their sponsorship of the antigay parade for just one year, have used NBC’s trick as an excuse to resume sponsoring it. It’s totally perverse that Heineken has offered to put money into the inclusive Queens parade as well as the antigay parade. Playing both sides harms the LGBTQ community, and adds insult to injury,” said Eustacia Smith of Irish Queers.

Irish LGBTQ groups have been fighting to take our place in our community’s parade for 25 years. We hope that next year’s parade will finally see the end of discrimination – and that corporations and others who say they support inclusion will work with the Irish LGBTQ community, rather than through back room deals.



Thanks for a beautiful night.

Under a veil of snow, in a warmly lit cellar painted with murals of dancers, with full glasses, and in friendly company -- that's how Irish Queers and supporters spent last night at the Parlour.

Thanks again to Colm Tóibín, Sarah Schulman, and Charles Rice-Gonzalez for reading, storytelling, and drawing the connections between us all. Also to our surprise musical guest Susan McKeown, whose music and friendship have been part of Irish LGBTQ organizing in NYC since the beginning.

Big love to everyone who came out in the snow. It felt like family.