5/22/15

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.

But...

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.

3/16/15

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.





3/15/15

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.


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3/4/15

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.


3/3/15

City Limits: Mayor de Blasio can do more than boycott

Exposing the parade organizers' sideways cuts at a religious "free speech" right to discrimination, and the NYPD and City Hall's wildly underreported support for the bigoted message of the parade... And calling on a mayor who has shown he cares about this issue to step all the way up to end the excuses.

Mayor must reckon with St. Patrick's Parade Legacies
3/2/15

http://citylimits.org/2015/03/02/op-ed-mayor-must-reckon-with-st-patricks-parade-legacies/

"De Blasio's boycott alone may not be enough to end the discrimination, but he has the authority to do even more. The question of how to deal with the anti-gay parade has long been muddied by a 1993 court case refiguring it as a private, anti-gay Catholic procession. The mayor's boycott of the parade obscures another problem: City Hall has long supported the parade organizers' exclusion of Irish LGBT groups, and it hasn't stopped yet. If negotiations are underway – the mayor hasn't acknowledged them, but media reports have – then it's time to set the record straight on these two legacies. And it's time for the mayor to take the additional steps he can."

Statement on de Blasio boycott, Guinness, and NBC - March 3, 2015

Statement from Irish Queers and allies
March 3, 2015

We are heartened that Mayor Bill de Blasio gets that the inclusion of NBC’s corporate gay group in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade is, as he said on Sunday, “too small a change to merit a lot of us participating who have wanted to see an inclusive parade.” To end the 24-year boycott of the parade the organizers need to include identifiable Irish LGBTQ groups—who have long been welcomed in St. Patrick’s Day parades in Ireland. We are angered but not surprised that Guinness, which had long sponsored the exclusionary parade, is back in as a sponsor after a one-year hiatus.

We are appreciative that our allies—from elected officials such as Council Speaker Melisssa Mark-Viverito and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer to grassroots organizers and groups such as the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club to big LGBTQ advocacy organizations including GLAAD, the Empire State Pride Agenda, and the Anti-Violence Project—have held strong against the parade committee’s effort to divide us by admitting the NBC group.

Our message to the parade organizers is simple: Embrace your own. End the ban. Let us march with our people as who we are.

We urge Mayor de Blasio to hold fast and help end this exclusion once and for all. We will continue to boycott the parade until then and will once again protest the parade on March 17 on Fifth Avenue and W. 57th St. if a just resolution is not reached.

2/25/15

(Unless you work for NBC) Protest the NYC St. Patrick's Day parade 2015.

Like (almost) everyone, we hoped that 2015 would see the end of the ban on Irish LGBT groups marching in the NYC St. Patrick's Day parade. Tragically, the religious-right leopards have not changed their homophobic spots. Under pressure to lift the ban, they've admitted OUT@NBC, a gay employee and marketing group of their sponsor, to march. Irish queer contingents -- who would show that Irish LGBT people are actually part of the community -- are still totally banned. (If you want a laugh: Cardinal Dolan claimed the NBC gay employees are actually an Irish LGBT group...)

Please join Irish Queers and allies in protesting the bigoted NYC St. Patrick's Day parade on March 17, 11am-1pm. The protest will be just below 57th Street on Fifth Avenue. Hot drinks and cameraderie afterward, as usual!

For more information, or to reach us on the day, feel free to call (212) 289-1101 or email IrishQueers@gmail.com. And if you want to send us a shout-out on Twitter (@IrishQueers) or Facebook, we'd love to hear from you that way.

xo
Irish Queers

2/19/15

What IrishCentral says, and what it means.

Photo: Niall O'Dowd's Facebook page, where he declares
himself an "expert in all things Irish and Irish American."
We've often thought of starting a section on this blog called "Why does the Irish Voice/IrishCentral  hate us now?" The publisher Niall O'Dowd, and his wife/columnist Debbie McGoldrick, have devoted a LOT of effort to dumping on us. Especially when we're winning a little on the parade issue, they inevitably print a story that talks about how we're not really part of the Irish community and don't "deserve" a spot in the parade.

We've never bothered to write those posts before. But now we're close -- really close -- to overturning the ban. And O'Dowd has predictably come for us with his claws out. So we'll take this on, hopefully just the one time.

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What he says: Irish Queers doesn't have "real standing" in the Irish community, unlike another Irish gay voice who is "preferring to continue to negotiate."

What he means: Irish Queers is the follow-on group from the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization. O'Dowd was initially supportive of the group, which he claims to have started by publishing a meet-up notice in the Irish Voice in 1990. His vision, it seems, was that New York's downtrodden Irish LGBT immigrants would find each other, form a social circle, and have no politics other than his own. What happened instead was that Irish queer immigrants -- some of whom were already politicized and none of whom was interested in crowning O'Dowd as their rescuer -- formed a social and political group. ILGO challenged the Catholic Archdiocese, the sexism and racism of the New York Irish political establishment, and the regime of brutally enforced politeness that tried to muzzle queers, Irish republicans, and other protesters.

So when O'Dowd says Irish Queers don't have standing, he means we don't have standing with him, and with the entwined business, political, and religious power brokers who run official Irish politics.

He also means that the Irish community in New York is a tiny, closed circle of people who can be brought in or pushed out -- and not the expansive, bustling community of New Yorkers who share in different aspects of Irish culture, different relationships with Ireland, and wildly different politics. He means: "I own this b****!"

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What he says: "Irish Queers is a fit-for-purpose once a year serial boycotter of the parade. Their website is an angry harangue against the parade and cops who are alleged racists. They are the Irish equivalent of Act Up."

What he means: O'Dowd knows nothing about Irish Queers that he doesn't read in the paper or on this blog, and even there we're only of interest to him when we talk about the parade. He's not interested in our work on antiracism from an Irish perspective in New York, nor our support for Irish activism on Palestine, nor activities like supporting political prisoners. But he does think we're Irish enough to be the Irish equivalent of ACT UP, so there's something. (P.S. A lot of those ungrateful ILGO queers he "saved" were also in ACT UP!)

He also means that challenging racist policing has nothing to do with Irish politics or community. Really, he thinks that!!

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What he says: "Of all people, Brendan Fay and his organization deserve to march in the parade. They have earned it over the years, staging an alternative parade in Queens, being open and inclusive and above all involved on issues outside the parade such as immigration and Northern Ireland."

What he means: There are good queers and there are bad queers. Instead of asking politely for bigots to be nice to them, bad queers confront them on the street and in the press. Instead of negotiating deals in smoky rooms, they prefer public conversations about right and wrong. Good queers go to Mass, they attend fundraisers, they preserve the sanctity of the back room deal. Good queers are grateful to O'Dowd.

He means (it seems?) that homophobia and religious bigotry would have naturally faded under the withering pressure of an alternative parade. That the 25 years of protest at the parade, and of civil disobedience in which queers laid their bodies on the line against church and NYPD violence, were rude diversions by imposters "seeking a cheap headline."

He means he wants to rewrite the history, just at the moment that we win. He wants queer challenges to the NYPD, the church, the City, and the old conservative bastions of Irish New York fade to away. In their place, he wants the story to be that asking nicely is what did the trick. Fat chance.

2/18/15

March 3 - Colm Tóibín, Sarah Schulman, Charles Rice-Gonzalez for Irish Queers!

We are bursting with the announcement of our upcoming reading and fundraiser-ette! And grateful for some public, celebratory Irish and queer space; there's not much of it.

Colm Tóibín, Sarah Schulman, and Charles Rice-Gonzalez will read from their work.
(Yes, we are star-studded, thank you for noticing!) We may also have a special musical guest... stay tuned for that announcement!

It all happens on March 3, 6:30pm at The Parlour on W. 86th and Broadway. We'll ask for $5-$20 at the door, but it's hard times, friends, and we won't turn anyone away for lack of funds.

See you there! xo IQ

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/1552527311696368/

Flyer for March 3 reading