Press release: Happy St. Patrick's Day, making history!

Date: March 17, 2016

Happy St. Patrick's Day from Irish Queers, making history together at the NYC St. Patrick’s Day parade!

Irish Queers are delighted to be on this side of the barricades for once! We may be more at home with the circumstance than the pomp in this parade, but in this contingent we're surrounded by the NYC Irish LGBTQ community in celebration mode, which is a rare pleasure. It's also a sweet reunion of sorts, although many of us are missing: moved home to a much-changed Ireland, lost to AIDS and homophobia, or driven away by the sadness of too long a struggle. For those of us who have spent every St. Patrick's Day for the last quarter century in battle on Fifth Avenue, the bitterness is not swept away by a single day in the sun -- but today a very cold shadow lifts, and our future St. Patrick's Days are returned to us for celebration rather than protest.

Our marching is a celebration for the whole Irish community. We're joined here by supporters from the the Irish community, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising together -- a rebellion whose gift to Irish culture is a constant reference point for organizing ourselves in the face of powerful injustice, taking principled risks rather than playing it safe and wrong, setting our own terms, and refusing half-measures.

It's a celebration for the whole queer community, which is so widely familiar with bigoted figureheads collaborating with the religious right, courts, and public officials. We're especially proud to be joined here by friends from the Ugandan queer community (Freedom and Roam Uganda, the first lesbian empowerment organization in Uganda) recognizing the importance of this victory over cultural erasure; and by supporters from the many NYC LGBTQ communities who have turned out on Fifth Avenue with Irish Queers over the years.

To queer communities in Ireland, we shout a long-distance "go raibh mile maith agat" (not least for putting religious homophobia to a referendum, that was clever!) A special shout- out to our family in Queer Space Belfast, we adore you. Hope to see you all soon!

Irish Queers NYC


Contact: Emmaia (917) 517-3627, JF (212) 289-1101, or Gaby (718) 909-3956

What they wore: IQ's Gaby Cryan on "Closet Case!"

Seamstress and fashion plate Gaby Cryan takes to the airwaves on "Closet Case!"


Why we fought (This year we march! - Gay City News 3/16/17)

"This Thursday, Irish Queers will break with 25 years of protest against the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade and march up Fifth Avenue in the actual parade. Believe that we are overjoyed that we don’t have to protest anymore. As per the rules of the parade, we’ll be in “business casual attire” and will be stripped of any message besides “we’re Irish, homosexual, and finally in this @#$%^ parade.”

"...Plenty of queers have asked why we fought so long to get into a parade that 1) clearly doesn’t want us; 2) is without a doubt the dullest parade in the city; and 3) is packed full of cops and army dudes, not in a sexy uniform kind of way.
"Here’s why it mattered enough to push on for 25 years..."
 Read more: http://gaycitynews.nyc/year-march/

Updated: On the march! Joining in the Irish LGBTQ contingent in 2016 NYC St. Patrick's Day parade.

This March 17th, the first Irish LGBTQ contingent will march in the 2016 NYC St.Patrick’s Day parade. Members of Irish Queers and the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization will join the Lavender and Green Alliance contingent, along with many of the tireless activists who have struggled against exclusion over the past twenty five years, worked toward the day when the parade celebrates the depth and breadth of Irish community.

The Lavender and Green Alliance will march with its banner, "Lavender and Green Alliance / Muintir Aerach na hÉireann: Celebrating Irish Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Culture and Identity."

The Irish LGBTQ contingent will also carry a second banner reading "England Get Out of Ireland." This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising, in which Irish insurrectionists battled to end British colonial rule. The LGBTQ contingent will march in honor of the vision, hope, and commitment of Irish people’s struggles against empire and repression. This year’s parade is a continuation of this work as we strive to create a world that make's good on the promise of the Irish Proclamation to "cherish all the children of the nation equally."
(Original post 3/3/16)

For more information about marching please email irishqueers@gmail.com.

UPDATE (3/16/17)

Originally Lavender & Green Alliance, in agreement with Irish Queers, had planned to have a second banner in the LGBT contingent. Aside from the lead banner "Lavender & Green Alliance/Muintir Aerach na hÉireann: Celebrating Irish Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Culture and Identity" it was also planned to have an "England, Get Out of Ireland" banner, as allowed within the Parade's rules and in recognition that the Irish LGBTQ group is marching to celebrate the centenary of the Rising and in support of the aspirations of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic, whose ideals remain unfulfilled.

After the decision was announced, there were concerns raised internally by some members and allies of LGA that the second banner (i) would not be reflective of the diversity of political views among those who plan to march in the contingent, and, (ii) that it could become a distraction in the media from the central issue of LGBT inclusion in the Parade.  In response to these concerns the LGA parade committee voted unanimously not to have a second banner, at least for this year.

Some of us strongly disagree with that decision, because it dilutes the politics of the contingent and silences a political message that is central to the Irish LGBT community.  Although we are not all in agreement with the decision to remove the second banner, we still plan to march together and to celebrate this hard-fought victory over bigotry and homophobia.


Bittersweet: what's been won, and what has not

Irish Queers are delighted that the parade's ban is ended, and look forward to joining the Irish LGBTQ contingent on Fifth Avenue. We've always held that our struggle is against bigotry, though, and all the celebrating and political fist-bumping is turning that on its head.

The mayor stood yesterday surrounded by Irish Americans and announced that New York City is a beacon of inclusion. It is better now for Irish queers. But in New York City, racist police killings are still the subject of constant protest. Homeless people are being swept off of streets in gentrifying neighborhoods by police cars draped in pink "breast cancer awareness" ribbons, no less. Gentrification is causing deaths and destroying communities literally every minute.

So yes, we successfully pushed the Parade Committee into ending a policy that was embarrassing them. But to paint the city "inclusive" with that small brush is to conveniently forget what's really happening here, and to use Irish LGBTQ people as your tool.

The mayor's press conference showed just how much can be papered over with a victory.

Some claimed the victory was won by putting the kettle on. Decades of protest and pressure didn't do it, just queers and bigots talking lovingly to each other.

A Parade Committee member lauded the end of the ban with deluded, Islamophobic nonsense about how "our Judeo-Christian beliefs" are what ended the ban, and "the West is about inclusion!" No one on the mayor's stage uttered a word of objection. (Update: we've been asked to note that attendees on that stage who objected felt unable to interrupt the Mayor's press conference to say so. The Mayor did not object.)

Nor are we allowed any accounting for the still-sitting members of the parade committee who enthusiastically supported the parade throughout its ban on Irish LGBTQ groups, and dismissed and degraded the protests. But we're supposed to stay grateful and quiet in case we upset the new "unity."

We fought 25 years for this victory. We don't want it misused. The NYC Irish community still has its progressives and it still has its bigots. NYC has its moments of inclusion, and its deep traditions of violent exclusion. We gladly celebrate the end of the parade's ban on Irish LGBTQ marchers. We don't agree to forget what hasn't ended.

(Originally posted 3/4/16)


Reflections on the long march to marching (Washington Blade 3/9/16)

(Photo: wnyc.org)
Read JF Mulligan's reflections on the (often inconvenient) history preceding this year's queer contingent in the St Patrick's Day parade:

"There are many answers to why this change has come. In reality it is probably a combination of things. But let’s talk about it, hear people take responsibility and not back away or silence these narratives..."
"...Some of the many Irish values I cherish are to be contrary, to stand up for what is right, and to not be afraid when everyone else is walking down the road to stop and walk the other way."


Resolutions 2016: Refusing white supremacy

Some of us may be wizened old queers with crusted-over hearts, but even we can find promise in the New Year. 2015 has been a tough year for hope. But -- mercifully -- white privilege has been made so stark that it has completely undone the idea of bystanders. We're all in the soup, and it's how we swim around in it that makes the difference.

Here are some ideas for pledges to white people to avoid supporting white supremacy, where we have the power to do it. Also some links that are related, but that definitely don't contain all the answers. It's just a starting point for thinking about how 2016 can be different because we make it so.


  • patronize restaurants or other venues where the front staff are all white, and the kitchen/rear staff are all people of color.
    Ethical eating app (ROC NYC)
  • call or involve police as a substitute for attempting to resolve problems with strangers or take care of another person.
  • rent an apartment from which another person has been evicted -- and I will ask why an apartment is vacant before renting it.
    Rent Responsibly App


  • cop-watch as a matter of habit: I will openly observe police on the street when they are questioning or arresting someone, and ask the person under police control if they are okay or need help.
    Color Of Change on CopwatchNYC
  • participate in at least two public protests or actions each year that have been organized by people of color contesting white supremacy -- in person, not online.
    NYC Shut It Down


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)