12/28/08

"Gay-bashing tirade shames Christians" opinion piece in Irish Independent

"Since coming to America, I've had any number of people assume that I'm virulently Catholic. To them, that's as Irish as shamrocks and St Patrick's Day drunkenness. In fact, like most Irish people my age -- I'll be 30 in '09 -- I'm not religious at all. And so it would be easy for me to think that the ramblings of old red socks in Rome have no bearing whatsoever on my day-to-day life. He raises his doddery old head above the parapet every so often to say we shouldn't use condoms and that gay people are bad and we all just roll our eyes and vaguely wonder when will he die?"

To read more of this opinion piece by Donal Lynch in response to the pope's latest sexist, homophobic speech, click here.

11/23/08

In the news...

Irish boyband Boyzone has a male love interest for its openly gay member, Stephen Gately, in their latest music video. Reverend David McCullough, minister of Dromore Reformed Presbyterian Church in Northern Ireland, had this to say about the video:

The message of the Boyzone video is yet another subtle effort of the homosexual propaganda machine. This video, that will be watched by millions, is sending out a deadly message to young people. (?!!!?)

To read more, click here. To watch the video, click here.

Click here to read Maureen Dowd's op-ed column on the soon to be released Harvey Milk biopic and Proposition 8. Harvey Milk was the first openly gay elected official in American history and served on San Francisco's Board of Supervisors. He was murdered by Dan White, an Irish Catholic former policeman and former city supervisor who opposed Milk’s equal rights initiatives for gays.

11/18/08

New report on LGBT people in the West of Ireland reveals isolation and discrimination

Many LGBT people feel isolated and socially excluded. Isolation and social exclusion are linked to poorer health, lower educational attainments, lower economic success and lower degrees of happiness and fulfilment. Conversely, embracing diversity is known to have proven effects on the individual and larger community. This very important piece of research contains evidence of the realities faced by LGBT people in the region. It is my hope that this will result in a more inclusive society here in the West of Ireland, where being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender will no longer result in experiencing discrimination or isolation.

- Éamon Ó Cuív, Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs speaking on a new report on LGBT people in the West of Ireland.

To read more about the report, click here.

11/17/08

Donate to Hate - More lies from the NYC St. Patrick's Day Parade Committee

The Irish Echo recently ran an article about how the NYC St. Patrick's Day Committee "needs a helping hand" and is launching an online donation drive. Like every other nonprofit on the planet, the parade committee is bracing itself for a decrease in donations due to the economy.

But in true AOH fashion, the committee is using manipulation and lies in its plea for donations for their annual procession of religious bigotry. They claim the parade is completely funded by individuals, or as they say in their fundraising letter, "completely funded by donations from generous people just like you." This is not entirely true. In a 2007 article published by the Irish Examiner USA, John Dunleavy bragged about the parade committee's links to corporations:

Dunleavy credits his good friend, the late Jim Barker, for bringing in sponsorship for the St. Patrick's Day Parade, which costs between $600,000 - $700,000 to run annually. The figure includes $300,000 for the TV air time, $23,000 for the reviewing stands on Fifth Avenue, as well as permits, sashes, port-o-potties, painting the green line up Fifth Avenue, and other expenses. Until a few years ago, Dunleavy ran the whole operation out of his home. The committee now has a small office in the Bronx and hired an administrative assistant to handle things as the parade continues to increase in size.

"Jim was a master salesman, a modern day PT Barnum," Dunleavy said. "A number of years ago, WPIX-TV, which had broadcast the parade for 35 years, cut back the hours because they couldn't sell the ads. We decided to switch to WNBC-TV, which made it easier to sell the sponsorships. We buy the time, hire our own producer, Mike Mathies, and control the content. Major supporters include Quinnipiac University, Guinness, and Ford Motor Company."

"Jim went to Villanova with Jim O'Connor, an executive at Ford. The Guinness sponsorship is a natural one," Dunleavy explained. "We are fortunate that Frank Comerford, president of WNBC, is on the board of the St. Parade's Parade Committee. In order to get work done, you need a combination of Irish and Irish Americans."

So what is really going on here? Buying air time? Selling sponsorships? It's hard to tell. According to the parade committee's 2007 990, they raised $96,265 in direct public support (translation: from generous homophobic people like you, including foundations and corporations). They raised $388,000 in indirect public support (translation: from other organizations like colleges, AOH chapters and Catholic churches).

In addition to the sponsors mentioned by Dunleavy to the Irish Examiner, other corporate sponsors of the parade include: Yonkers Raceway, CelticBrands.com, The Padded Wagon, Turtle Wax, and US Bank Irish Connections Visa Card.

During the last decade, the parade has had its financial integrity questioned by both AOH insiders and outsiders. In 2001, the New York Times ran an article on William J. Flynn's resignation as president from the parade committee. One of the main reasons mentioned in the article for his resignation were around financial transparency. In 2002, former Attorney General Eliot Spitzer investigated the parade committee's finances. It was alleged that the late Jim Barker and his public relations firm accepted payments from the Ford auto company for parade advertising instead of making payments to the nonprofit entity.

To top it all off, the fundraising plea on one of the parade committee's websites mentions that the city "offers no financial subsidies to the Parade despite the fact that the City take (sic) in millions of dollars in tax revenue from Parade participants."

Well AOH folks, this is the price you pay for having a private, religious procession down Fifth Avenue (a public space) on March 17th. We still have a separation between church and state, and the City has anti-discrimination laws, so your discriminatory event should not be entitled to any financial subsidies.

With the passing of Proposition 8 in California, much attention is being paid to the Mormon Church and other groups that invested so heavily in homophobia. This ridiculous fundraising plea in the Irish Echo has re-reminded us to step up following the homophobic money floating around the Irish American community sponsoring this discriminatory parade.

10/22/08

Meeting News

Irish Queers will no longer be meeting at the LGBT Center on the first Tuesday of each month. Please e-mail for details about how to connect & get involved.

8/11/08

New AOH President Against Coalition Building for Immigration Reform

Remember AOH President Jack Meehan and his pledge to ramp up the AOH's anti-choice efforts? He just got voted out at the AOH convention in New Orleans at the end of July. The new AOH president, Seamus Boyle of Philadelphia, has pledged to make immigration reform the main focus of his presidency. Below is a snippet of an interview he gave to IrishPhiladelphia.com:

Q.
Do you feel like the Irish need to work with other immigrant groups to achieve reform? I mean, fundamentally, this is not an Irish issue so much as an immigrant issue, is it? Can we really achieve any progress on Irish immigration without finding common cause with, say, Latin American or Asian groups?

A. I think that the Irish have more to offer than some of the other groups and I do not mean to degrade any nationality. The Irish have a head start on other groups because the have a tremendous work ethic, great education and speak English, and that is an advantage for employers. We as Irish are not looking for anything except to be treated fairly.


Sounds pretty racist from over here, Seamus. If you don't mean to degrade any nationality, why are you implying non-Irish immigrants don't have a strong work ethic, are not well educated, and don't speak English? Seamus Boyle and the modern day AOH have much more in common with nativists than they'd like to think, that's for sure.

8/5/08

NYC Outraged By Cops Gone Wild

WHAT: A Press conference to denounce Cops Gone Wild, a call for an end to the criminalization of those who lawfully document police activities. Speakers will also address the lack of discipline for those who harass, intimidate, and physically assault New Yorkers, especially those Officers who intentionally makes false official statements regarding their misconduct.

WHEN: Wednesday, August 6, 2008 at 10 am

WHERE: In front of One Police Plaza

The latest episodes of police brutality and misconduct captured on video will be the focus of a press conference on Wednesday, August 6, 2008 at 10am, in front of One Police Plaza. The event will bring together an unprecedented number of elected officials, social justice organizations and civil rights groups who are outraged and determined to put a stop to police brutality and the criminalization of those who document it.

Among the groups and individuals expected are: Attorney Norman Siegel, AudreLorde Project, CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities, Casa Atabex Ache, Center for Constitutional Rights, Council Members Rosie Mendez and Charles Barron, FreeWheels Bicycle Defense Fund, Immigrant Justice Solidarity Project,International Action Center, Justice Committee, Make The Road NY, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, National Congress for Puerto Rican Rights, Nodutdol for Korean Community Development, Peoples' Justice for Community Control & Police Accountability, Social Justice Leadership, Times Up! Environmental Group and VAMOS Unidos.

Click here to watch a 12 minute video showing NYPD officers harass and arrest cyclists and those documenting these arrests during one ride lastyear.

Click here to watch video of NYPD officer repeatedly beating a handcuffed army veteran on the ground with a metal Baton.

Click here to watch video of Officer Patrick Pogan violently knocking Christopher Long off his bicycle on July 25th.

7/30/08

In the news.....

Iris Robinson is still making news for her homophobic views, most recently comparing same-sex relationships to child abuse. Whatever.

The Northern Ireland Parades Commission has given permission for Belfast Pride to go ahead this Saturday without any restrictions. During the Belfast Pride festivities last weekend, Peter Tatchell, speaking at the "Love is a Human Right" dinner sponsored by Amnesty International, called on Iris Robinson to step down AND claimed King William of Orange had male lovers. To read more, click here.

Foyle Pride was officially launched today in Derry. The festival, which will take place from August 18-25 will feature an "Iris Robinson tribute." Last weekend, the iconic Free Derry wall was painted over to coincide with Pride week by over 100 artists. Check it out:


The Free Derry wall normally looks like this:


6/23/08

2 of convictions of New Jersey 4 overturned

Last Thursday, a NY state appeals court overturned the convictions of 2 of the NJ4.

Terrain Dandridge, 21, whom a jury found guilty of second-degree gang assault, had her conviction reversed and indictment dismissed. Originally, she had been sentenced to 3 1/2 years. She cannot be re-tried on any charges and was expected to be released from prison yesterday. She is expected to meet with Angela Davis in the Bay Area today.

The court also overturned the charges against Renata Hill, 26, who was found guilty of second-degree gang assault and third-degree assault, but she can be re-tried. The court ruled that the judge's instructions to the jury on the gang assault charge in the original trial were incorrect, therefore her conviction on that charge could not be upheld. Hill was originally sentenced to eight years in prison, but hopefully she will be released from prison since she has already been incarcerated beyond the 1 year maximum penalty for the third-degree assault.

Following this case has been very important to the work of Irish Queers in New York City. First and foremost, because of our history as Irish/Irish American people, we understand the importance of self-defense and honor the bravery of those that dare to rise up against hatred. No woman, queer or otherwise, should EVER be incarcerated for defending herself against someone that is threatening their safety, but sadly this is an all to familiar story in our racist/sexist/classist/homophobic "criminal justice" system.

(And for those that might be unclear, street harassment (cat-calling), addressing people as "fucking dykes", spitting on them, choking them, pulling out chunks of their hair, and saying, "I'll fuck you straight", is threatening behavior. This behavior is even more triggering when you've already seen one of your friends, Sakia Gunn, murdered in 2003 for proclaiming her queerness and rejecting the advances of a straight man).

Secondly, we see the harsh sentences (and insulting comments) handed down by Judge Edward J. McLaughlin in the original trial within the context of the infamous homophobia of the NY Irish/Irish American community. Every year on March 17th at the St. Patrick's Day Parade, men like Judge McLaughlin are given our city streets to proudly celebrate their bigotry and assimilation under the guise of preserving and protecting "traditional" (?) Irish culture, as if homophobia/transphobia/misogyny/racism/classism are essentially Irish. While some in the queer community don't understand why we bother to continually challenge the St. Patrick's Day Parade, we see Judge McLaughlin's actions in the case of the NJ4 as a perfect example why our work is necessary…because Irish/Irish American bigotry has severe consequences in the LGBT community.

While we are happy that the convictions of Terrain Dandridge and Renata Hill have been overturned and that Judge McLaughlin's biases and incompetence have been called out, it doesn't make up for what these women have gone through. We will keep following this case and will post more information as it becomes available. Appeals for the remaining NJ4, Patreese Johnson and Venice Brown, are under way.

6/21/08

Dublin Pride and the Irish Queer Archive

Check out this article on Dublin Pride and the Irish Queer Archive that was transferred to the National Library of Ireland earlier this week.

6/11/08

Acquitted!

A Belfast court today unanimously acquitted of six protesters from the Derry Anti-War Coalition of destroying property belonging to Raytheon, a multinational arms company. For article from The Derry Journal, click here.


6/10/08

Going to see Prisoner of the Crown


We've picked a night to go see Prisoner of the Crown at the Irish Rep. E-mail us for details.

Support the 4th Annual NYC Trans Day of Action for Social & Economic Justice

Irish Queers has signed on as allies of the 4th Annual Trans Day of Action. Though we are probably most well known for our 17 year (and counting) stand-off on Fifth Avenue over the St. Patrick's Day Parade with the bigots of the Ancient Order of Hibernians (and FDNY & NYPD), we are active on a variety of social justice issues. Unlike most of the NYC Irish/Irish American community, we hold in our hearts a reading of Irish history that champions resistance and fights oppression against all odds. For this reason, we see standing with TransJustice and all Trans and Gender Non-Conforming People of Color as not only an expression of our loyalty and solidarity to our queer community, but also as an expression of what being Irish truly means to us. Please stand with us and support this important march @ City Hall Park @ 3pm on Friday, June 27 to kick off Pride weekend.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------
The 4th Annual NYC Trans Day of Action for Social and Economic Justice

Points of Unity

Initiated by TransJustice of the Audre Lorde Project, a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Two-Spirit, Trans and Gender Non-Conforming People of Color Center for Community Organizing

We call on our Trans and Gender Non-Conforming (TGNC) community and on all of our allies from many movements to join us for the 4th Annual Trans Day of Action for Social and Economic Justice. We as TGNC People of Color (POC) recognize the importance of working together alongside other movements to change the world we want to see. We live in a time when people of color, immigrants and poor people are disproportionately underserved, face higher levels of discrimination, heightened surveillance and experience increased violence at the hands of the state. It is critical that we unite and work together towards dismantling the transphobia, racism, classism, sexism, ageism, ableism, homophobia and xenophobia that permeates throughout our movements for social justice. Let’s come together to let the world know that TGNC rights will not be undermined and together we will not be silenced! These are the points of unity, which hold together the purpose of this important march:

*We demand that TGNC people have equal access to employment and education opportunities. We are outraged by the high numbers of TGNC people who are unemployed. Many TGNC people continue to face blatant discrimination and harassment from employers due to systemic transphobia. Few TGNC people have access to opportunities for learning in a safe school environment. TGNC people demand that all employers and educational institutions implement non-discrimination policies that respect the rights of all workers and students and that they comply with the NYC Human Rights Law that prohibits discrimination against gender identity and expression!

*We demand that all people receiving public assistance entitlements including TGNC People of Color, be treated with respect and dignity. We stand in solidarity with all people living on public assistance. The NYC agency responsible for the administration of public welfare, the Human Resources Administration (HRA), continues to ignore our demands to address the systemic problems that exist internally and perpetuate the transphobia and harassment faced by TGNC people of color when applying for benefits such as welfare, access to shelters, access to culturally competent and sensitive healthcare, drug treatment programs, adult protective services, eviction prevention, and other essential services. We demand that the NYC HRA: conduct an internal investigation of these incidents; follow NYC ‘Guidelines Regarding Gender Identity Discrimination’ and develop means of enforcement; implement mandatory cultural competency training on gender identity/expression; implement a fully accessible process for reporting incidents of discrimination; and, commit to prioritize hiring of TGNC employees.

*We demand the full legalization of all immigrants. TGNC people deserve the right to access competent and respectful immigration services. We demand that the consulates of all countries respect and honor our identities and issue passports and other documentation that accurately reflects who we are. We oppose the guest worker program, the Real ID Act, enforcement provisions to build more walls and give greater powers to the Department of Homeland Security, increased barriers for asylum seekers, the HIV ban and other anti-immigrant policies that continue to divide our communities.

*We stand in solidarity with all prisoners, especially the many TGNC people behind the walls who are often invisible even within prisoner’s rights movements. We call attention to the under-reported accounts of severe violence and rape that our community faces at the hands of correction officers and other prisoners. We demand an end to the torture and high level of discrimination TGNC prisoners face. We demand that all TGNC prisoners receive competent and respectful healthcare. We oppose the continued growth of the prison industrial complex that continues to target our communities, yet we recognize that TGNC people need access to services and facilities that lessen our vulnerability to violence within the present jails and prisons. We are opposed to the closing of the “gay and Trans housing” unit on Rikers. We call attention to the criminal injustice system that increasingly puts POC, immigrants, TGNC people and poor people behind bars - further criminalizing our communities and our lives.

*We demand that TGNC people have access to respectful and safe living spaces. Many TGNC people face severe discrimination from landlords and housing administrators displacing us from our homes due to gender identity or expression. A disproportionate number of TGNC people have been or are currently homeless. However, many homeless TGNC people continue to face discrimination when trying to access shelters and other assisted living programs. NYC law and the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) state that people will be placed in shelters according to that person’s gender identity and that discrimination based on gender identity will not be tolerated. We demand that all DHS shelter administrators continue to provide adequate Trans sensitivity trainings for all personnel and enforce clear non-discrimination policies that respect the dignity of all homeless people.

*We demand that all children and youth, under the jurisdiction of the Administration of Children Services (ACS) and Private Foster Care Agencies, have the right to the freedom of gender expression and identity. In the 2002-landmark case Jean Doe v. Bell, it was established that children in NYC’s foster care system cannot be discriminated against for being transgender and cannot be forced to only wear clothing associated with their birth gender. Government institutions like ACS and private foster care agencies must be accountable for the health of people under their care, and recognize that this responsibility must include TGNC people and Trans related health care. We demand that ACS initiates a full investigation of all the incidents of misallocation of personal funds and the violations of confidentiality issues that have negatively affected the lives of children and youth under their care.

*We oppose the Bush Administration’s “War on Terrorism” as an excuse to legitimize the expansion of the U.S. as a imperial super power and to justify a national security strategy that is really meant to militarize our boarders and heighten surveillance and control over people living in the U.S., separating our communities by fostering feelings of hate, xenophobia, and violence. Every day we see more and more of our basic human rights like healthcare, jobs, education, housing, privacy, self-determination and the right of dissent slipping away from all of us. We must stand up now to demand the immediate removal of all U.S. troops from all countries under occupation and demand an end of use of U.S. dollars to cultivate and sponsor wars against people in the U.S. and abroad.

*We demand justice for the many TGNC people who have been beaten, assaulted, raped, and murdered yet these incidents continue to be silenced, misclassified or blamed on the victim. The police and the media continue to criminalize us even when we try to defend ourselves. An increase in hate crime laws will not solve the problem but will give increased power to the state to put more people in jail. Instead we call for a unified effort for all of us to look deeper into the root causes of why these incidents happen. As a society that seeks social justice we seek to find ways of holding people accountable and coming to a joint understanding of how we can make our communities safer for all of us. Like many other oppressed communities like communities of color, immigrants and the poor, TGNC people are also targeted, profiled and brutalized by the police. We demand an end to the profiling, harassment, arrest, brutality and murder that occurs at the hands of the police! These incidents of violence do not occur in isolation, and are aggravated by racism, sexism, classism, xenophobia, misogyny, ageism and damaging strict heterosexist values.

We stand in solidarity with the family of Sean Bell, who are still tirelessly working towards justice after the police were later acquitted of charges. We stand in solidarity with the Jersey 4, 4 Lesbian women arrested in the West Village for defending themselves from a man that assaulted them. We stand in solidarity with Miriam, a transgender woman who was pushed out the window of her 4th floor apt and left for dead. We commemorate the memory of Amanda Milan, Sakia Gunn, Ruby Ordeñana, Gwen Araujo, Erika Keels, Victoria Arellano, Lawrence King, Saneesha Stewart and the many other brave souls we have lost, who struggled and lived their lives fearlessly day in and day out, being true to who they were. They keep the fire of struggle burning within all of us.

On June 27, 2008, TGNC People of Color and allies will take on the streets of New York City once again and demand justice to let the world know that the Stonewall rebellion is not over and we will continue fighting for social and economic justice, raising our voices until we are heard. We call on all social justice activists from communities of color, the LGBT movement, immigrant rights movement, the anti-war movement, the reproductive rights movement, youth and student groups, trade unions and worker organizations, religious communities and HIV/AIDS and social service agencies, both local and organizations around the country to endorse this call to action and to build contingents to march in solidarity together on June 27, 2008.

Click here for more information about TransJustice.

Same old DUP homophobia

Last Friday, Iris Robinson, MP representing Strangford and Chair of the Northern Ireland Assembly's Health Committee....as well as the wife of new First Minister Peter Robinson, suggested that a man that was viciously queer-bashed and left for dead could be "cured" of his queerness through therapy.

Stephen Scott, 27, was attacked last Wednesday night by 3 youths as he walked home near Ballyduff Brae in Newtownabbey (Co. Antrim). He was treated for broken ribs, as well as head and leg injuries. He spoke to the BBC News and urged other victims of homophobic violence to come forward.

Iris Robinson made her now infamous comments on BBC Radio Ulster, where she graciously offered up a "a lovely psychiatrist who works with me and who tries to help homosexuals turn away from what they are engaged in. He is a Born Again Christian and has links all over the world and I have met people who have been turned around to become heterosexual and who have gone on to get married and raise families."

What the f&*k ever.

She also said homosexuality was "disgusting, nauseous, loathsome, shamefully wicked and vile", that her strong Christian upbringing meant she would never change her views, and nothing would stop her from speaking out on the issue.

Meanwhile, Martina Anderson of Sinn Fein has described the remarks as "outrageous" and claims Mrs. Robinson's comments call into question her ability to chair the Assembly Health Committee. Sinn Fein is calling on Mrs. Robinson to resign as Chair of the committee.

6/3/08

Court room support needed today for NJ4

Two of the New Jersey 4, Renata Hill and Terrain Dandrige, have their appeal hearings TODAY at 2pm. If you can attend, please be advised that lawyers for the 4 have all asked supporters be extremely quiet and respectful in the courtroom since its different than a regular jury trial. Please come out if you can!

Tuesday June 3rd
2pm
27 Madison Ave. (Enter at 25th street & there is only one court room.)

Monthly meeting at the Center tonight.....

is CANCELLED.

6/1/08

Events Today

Counter-Protest at the Salute to Israel Parade - Join Adalah-NY and other New York groups to support Palestinian rights and to inform New Yorkers that 60 years of ethnic cleansing, dispossession and apartheid is nothing to celebrate. Counter-Protest is from 11AM-3PM on the west side of 5th Avenue between 58th & 59th streets (a location that is very familiar to us Irish Queers). Take the R, N to 5th Avenue (use only west exit marked Central Park South near downtown end of platform); F to 57th St. (at 6th Av.); Q to 57th St.-7th Ave; take 4, 5, 6 to 59th St (at Lex.)

Queens Pride Parade & Festival - The parade kicks off at 12pm at 89th Street and 37th Avenue, and goes down 37th Avenue, ending at 75th Street. The Multicutural Festival begins at 11:00AM and ends at 6:00PM and is located on 37th Road and stretches from 73rd Street to 77th Street. Take take the E,F,R,G subway trains to Roosevelt Avenue/Jackson Heights station, or take the #7 subway train to 74th Street - Broadway station.

5/31/08

On Gay Marriage & Gavin Newsom...

After reading Cahir O'Doherty's May 29th Irish Voice article titled, Newsom Applauds Gay Marriage Ruling, we couldn't help but make a few comments.

It's great to see the Irish Voice covering LGBT issues! Not all Irish/Irish Americans are hardcore homophobes, and it's nice to see an Irish paper profiling issues pertaining to those of us Irish folks that fall outside of an ultra-conservative Catholic world view.

While it is positive that Gavin Newsom, an Irish Catholic heterosexual man from a privileged family, has stood by the affluent sector of the LGBT community in the fight for marriage equality, it is important to remember that Newsom is not a friend to all sectors of the LGBT community.

In the city of San Francisco, Newsom was responsible for Care Not Cash (Proposition N), a paternalistic program designed to cut cash grants given to homeless people in general assistance programs in exchange for encouraging them to enter shelters and seek other social services. This program limited the autonomy of homeless people and attempted to keep them off the street and out of sight, and was also meant to ensure any cash issued was not being used to buy drugs or alcohol.

In another attempt to "improve the quality of life" in San Franciso, Newsom also sponsored Proposition M, known as the "aggressive anti-panhandling measure." This measure defined "aggressive panhandling" as touching, following or threatening people and banned all forms of begging near ATMs, parking lots, check-cashing businesses, median strips, highway ramps, and on public transportation. (This measure even made it so that Girl Scouts could no longer peddle their cookies in Safeway supermarket parking lots.)

(And that's just a bit on two of Newsom's policies. Really, we could go on and on.)

We point this out because contrary to stereotypes, not all LGBT people are rich & white. Our community is every community - Black, Asian, Indigenous, Latino, white, multi-racial, multi-ethnic, rich, poor, working class, middle class....you get the picture. The gay marriage ruling in California is a step forward, and it is commendable that Governor Paterson here in NY is seeking to recognize same-sex marriages from other states, but it is crucial that LGBT folks stay active on issues beyond gay marriage. To us, Gavin Newsom cannot be considered a hero to the LGBT community when he has such a strong record on "quality of life" issues that criminalize poor folks, which includes LGBT folks.

So again, kudos to the Irish Voice for covering more Irish/Irish American LGBT issues, but we can't in good conscience join in on any Gavin Newsom admiration. But blogs were made for this very reason, to debate and voice other opinions. And in our case, our opinions always veer to the left and are always tied to a human rights for all framework.

5/30/08

Support the Raytheon 9!

In 2006, members of the Derry Antiwar Coalition organized an occupation of a local facility of Raytheon, a U.S.-based weapons maker and world's largest producer of guided missiles to protest Israel's war on Lebanon. Nine activists were arrested and charged with vandalizing the building. They are currently on trial and could face time in prison if convicted.

For daily trial updates, click here.

To read Shaun Harkin's interview with Eamonn McCann, click here.

Click here to sign the petition in support of the Raytheon 9.

5/26/08

Film about Bobby Sands wins award at Cannes

Hunger, a film about Bobby Sands, received the Camera d'Or award at the closing ceremony of the Cannes Film Festival. For more information about the film, click here and here.




Bobby Sands died on May 5, 1981 after 66 days on hunger strike in the struggle for human rights and political status for all Irish Republican political prisoners incarcerated in Northern Ireland. He was only 27 years old. Bobby Sands was one of ten men to die in the Hunger Strike of '81. The demands of the prisoners included:
  • The right not to wear a prisoner uniform (since they were not criminals)
  • The right to free association amongst Republican political prisoners
  • The right as political prisoners not to do prison work
  • The right to organize their own educational and recreational facilities
  • The right to one weekly visit, letter and parcel

For more information on the Hunger Strike of '81, click here.

More on Prisoner of the Crown...

(Painting by Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin)

The Irish ultimately replied that – straight or gay – Casement had died for Ireland, and they honored his sacrifice. When his coffin lay in state in Dublin’s Garrison Church of the Sacred Heart, 165,000 mourners filed past to pay their respects.

Click here for the full Irish Voice review of Prisoner of the Crown.

5/19/08

Wanna go see Prisoner of the Crown at the Irish Rep?


Wanna join Irish Queers to see Prisoner of the Crown, a play about Roger Casement? Send us an e-mail and we'll let you know when we're thinking of going.

From the Irish Rep's website:


PRISONER OF THE CROWN, a broad and bitter indictment of judicial abuse, is the riveting story of the trial of Sir Roger Casement, an Irish patriot and one of the world's great humanitarians. A few short years after being knighted, Casement was sentenced to be hanged for treason in what was called, "The Trial of the Century." The sensational trial was tainted by the presence of the "Black Diaries," --an alleged explicit account of Casement's promiscuous homosexual lifestyle. Were the diaries real? Or, were they, as many believed, forged by the crown forces determined that he pay the ultimate price for his role in the Easter, 1916 uprising? The play, set in the jury room of the Old Bailey and in the minds of the jury, features 49 characters and paints a captivating picture of heroism, passion, and manipulative deception.



Roger Casement was born in Kingstown, now Dun Laoghaire, County Dublin, in 1864. In the 1890s Casement joined the British consular service, and in 1903 gained an international reputation for his humanitarian efforts in the Congo and later in Peru where he exposed atrocities to which natives were subjected by agents of rubber companies using forced labor. His reports created an international sensation for which resulted in his knighthood. He was one of the world’s first great humanitarians in the modern sense. He retired from the consular service in 1912 and was hanged for high treason August 3, 1916.

Click here for Irish Voice article Irish Rep Season Ends With a Bang.

5/12/08

Race for Economic Justice this Saturday 5/17

This Saturday Queers for Economic Justice (QEJ) will be holding its Amazingly Queer Race for Economic Justice. This city-wide event will bring together a multitude of social justice organizations, celebrities, businesses and local and national community members to raise awareness of and gain support for QEJ and to further the necessary, unique and groundbreaking social and political work we do for low-income New Yorkers. This event will be comprised of 100 people, working in pairs as 50 teams, competing in a skill-based race/scavenger hunt throughout the city. Each team will be sponsored by family, friends, community members, organizations and businesses.

If you are interested in participating, please visit their MySpace page by clicking here. Please support this event by either volunteering or making a donation.

Queers for Economic Justice (QEJ) is a progressive non-profit organization committed to challenging the systems that create poverty and economic injustice in our communities and promoting an economic system that enhances sexual and gender diversity. They work with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people who are homeless, are on public assistance and/or are immigrants.

Nuala O'Faolain dies at 68






To read her NY Times obituary, click here.

Memorial for Bob Kohler this Sunday 5/18

Memorial for Bob Kohler, queer activist extraordinaire (and anti-racist, feminist, music & theater-lover, West Village hero plus much more...)

Sunday, May 18th
2:30-5pm
The LGBTQ Center
208 West 13th Street, between 7th & 8th Avenues


Subway & PATH Directions
1, 2, or 3 to 14th Street and 7th Avenue
A, C, E, or L to 14th Street and 8th Avenue
F or V to 14th Street and 6th Avenue
PATH to 14th Street and 6th Avenue

Please join us on the day after Bob's birthday to celebrate the impact he had in our lives and on our communities. There will be speakers, star-studded performances, art, video and the launch of an ongoing archive of Bob's life.

5/1/08

May Day March for Immigrant Rights

Members of IQ marched down Broadway yesterday in support of immigrant rights.













4/26/08

From the streets of Queens.....WE ARE ALL SEAN BELL!

UNDERCOVER NYPD = DEATH SQUAD

.....and yesterday, we learned (once again) that they can kill anybody they want and get away with it.

Here are pictures from the rally & march organized by People's Justice Coalition last night...
Sean Bell's step brother addressed the crowd




4/24/08

Justice for Sean Bell This Friday 4/25 in Queens

JUSTICE FOR SEAN BELL AND ALL VICTIMS OF POLICE VIOLENCE!!
COME OUT APRIL 25th, THE DAY OF THE VERDICT!!

In Nov. 2006, Sean Bell was murdered by the NYPD in a hail of 50 bullets. His friends, Trent Benefield and Joseph Guzman, were seriously injured. 3 of the officers involved now await the verdict of their trial. The judge has stated that he will announce the verdict on FRIDAY, APRIL 25th. PEOPLES JUSTICE for Community Control and Police Accountability is calling for a rally and community speak-out in front of the Queens DA's office ON THIS DAY*.

COME OUT: APRIL 25th at 5:30 pm
To the Queens DA's Office
125-01 Queens Blvd. (between Hoover Ave & 82nd Ave.)
E or F train to Union Turnpike

The NYPD's murder of Bell and attempted murders of Benefield and Guzman are NOT isolated or random events. They represent the continued targeting of communities of color by the police and the lack of accountability for police misconduct and abuse.

Endorsers (list in formation): Allianza Dominicana, Audre Lorde Project, Black Radical Congress-NY, CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities, Center for Constitutional Rights, Congress for Korean Reunification, Critical Resistance, Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM), DJ Chela, Domestic Workers United (DWU), El Puente, FIERCE, Fr. Luis Barrios – St. Mary's Episcopal Church (West Harlem, Manhattan), Free Mumia Abu-Jamal Coalition (NYC), Hasan Salaam, Hip Hop Caucus, Immigrant Justice Solidarity Project, Iglesia San Romero de Las Americas, International Action Center, Jews for Racial & Economic Justice (JFREJ), Justice Committee, Lynne Stewart Organization, Make the Road by Walking, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, Mano a Mano, May 1st Coalition, National Hip Hop Political Convention, New Abolitionists, Nodutdol for Korean Community Development, October 22nd Coalition, Parents Against Police Brutality, Party for the People, Rebel Diaz, Regeneracion, Revolting in Pink (R.I.P), Rights for Imprisoned People with Psychiatric Disabilities (RIPPD), Sylvia Rivera Law Project, VAMOS Unidos. War Resisters League, Where We Live Radio Program/WBAI-FM NY.
For more information about the April 25th rally/community speak-out, Peoples' Justice, and other cases of police violence go to: peoplesjustice.org and myspace.com/peoplesjustice or email info{AT}peoplesjustice.org.

4/18/08

Speaking of Shaz Oye...

Speaking of Shaz Oye, this article appeared in the Irish Voice a few weeks back. We realize that it's a bit late in blog-time, but it's never to late to call out bigotry, right? Of Shaz, Mike Farragher wrote:

A BLACK lesbian Irish activist who shaves her head. Uh-huh. Yeah,right. I thought the same thing as you while I prepared to meet Shaz Oye before her gig at Asbury Park's the Saint.

Would she challenge me to an arm wrestle, or brand me a clueless Yank cracker for still hoping that Michael Bloomberg enters the race and saves us from our lame presidential alternatives?

Nothing could be further from the truth. In person, this delightful folk sensation has a warm flannel personality and a smile that lights up the room.

Okay, where should we start?

While we applaud the fact that the Irish Voice is covering more issues pertaining to the Irish/Irish American LGBT community lately, the"humor" in the opening of this article is unacceptable....yet very predictable. Writing (and capitalizing) A BLACK lesbian Irish activist who shaves her head appeals to the assumed inner bigot of Irish Voice readers and reflects their attitudes about people of color, lesbians, and those do not conform to gender norms. Oh, and those uppity activists, that are often people of color, women, queers, and gender non-conformers that are driven to be activists because our lives are reduced to jokes and jabs (and far worse) by the Mike Farraghers of the world.

Farragher then stresses that in person Shaz was nothing like his bigoted, stereotypical assumptions. Great......so now the New York Irish community can take a deep breath and go buy Shaz's CD or see her in concert because she might actually be a decent person & artist? This was an otherwise nice article about an Irish artist that is so worthy of attention, but using humor that depends on racism, sexism, and homophobia to succeed says so much more about Mike Farragher & the people that would share his thoughts than it does those being made fun of.

Why does the New York Irish American community wear its bigotry like a badge of pride and honor?

4/17/08

Listen to "Ireland: LGBT activism from the North to the South" on Out FM

Click here to listen to the April 7th Out FM show featuring part 1 of an interview with Black Irish Lesbian performer and activist Shaz Oye AND an interview with QueerSpace Belfast organizer, Gareth Lee, talking about the 10th anniversary of their community center and the impact the center has on politics in North Ireland.

Marching for economic justice......

....is a beautiful thing.


Jay Toole from QEJ speaking at the rally



March for Economic Justice TODAY


Join Irish Queers today as we join Queers for Economic Justice in their day of action for economic justice.
The Rally - 3pm in Union Square Park
The March down Broadway - 4-5pm
Community Dinner/Celebration - 5-7:30pm at Judson Memorial Church
See you there!

April 17th Economic Justice Day of Action – Points of Unity

The Economic Justice Day of Action is an initiative of the Welfare Warriors, a project of Queers for Economic Justice. We are a group of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Gender Non-conforming (LGBTGNC) people with experience of poverty, who organize to make the welfare system accountable to low-income LGBTGNC people, and to improve the benefits available for all low-income people. Through direct action, community education, and coalition-building with other progressive organizations we seek to empower our communities, and to connect our struggle for welfare rights to larger struggles for social justice.

On April 17th, 2008 LGBTGNC people facing issues of poverty will have the opportunity to give voice to our struggles in a rally, march and community event. Despite the dominant media images of gay, white, affluent men, innumerable queer, trans and gender nonconforming people of color and white people survive high levels of poverty and economic based violence on a daily basis.

Classism and the Mainstream LGBT Movement
For too long our voices have been stifled by a homophobic/transphobic society. Moreover, because of racism and classism, our issues are overlooked and thereby not part of the mainstream LGBT-rights agenda.

Prior to the gay marriage movement, numerous LGBT organizations were busy fighting hate crimes by using conservative, tough-on-crime tactics of increased jail time, instead of progressive alternatives.

Today the fight for state-sanctioned marriage has completely eclipsed other attempts to address more pressing issues faced by poor LGBTGNC people such as, homelessness, unemployment, inadequate healthcare, immigrant-rights, police brutality, etc.

Poor LGBTGNC people are frequently profiled and pushed out of LGBT spaces that should be open us. All too often our behaviors are policed and we are labeled as being too poor, uneducated/unqualified, “acting ghetto”, too ethnic, or simply not exhibiting characteristics stereotypically linked to a white, middle-class upbringing.

We urge economically privileged Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people to challenge this policing against our community and work hard to ensure that it is not reproduced within spaces they control.

Welfare Rights

Since the 1996 welfare reform act we have seen the steady erosion of welfare rights and benefits, which has led to increased homelessness and hunger in NY. We fight for the guarantee of economic security both because it is fundamental to our personal well-being, as well as critical for our ability to collectively organize in our communities, instead of just surviving.

We demand that the Human Resources Administration (HRA) comply with NYC Human Rights Law, which protects trans and gender non-conforming people from discrimination.
We condemn current welfare policies that:
  • increase proof of citizenship requirements for Medicaid applicants and denial of health coverage to non-citizens or people who can not prove citizenship.

  • relegate poor people to low-skilled jobs, through welfare programs like the Work Experience Program, where we are not offered living wages, benefits and/or opportunities to learn new skills.

  • cut States’ welfare funding if they fail to plug enough poor people into low-paying, dead-end jobs.

  • do not recognize non-biological lesbian mothers as family

  • force LGBTGNC substance users, who are addicted and seek public assistance, into homophobic/transphobic treatment programs, where they sometimes drop out and are denied benefit

  • enable discrimination and harassment of LGBTGNC people at welfare centers and/or workfare sites, which eventually compels us drop out and earn a living in ways that are criminalized by the State.

  • enforce heterosexual marriage by allocating $100 million for marriage promotion and $50 million for “responsible fatherhood” programs.

  • deny homeless LGBTGNC youth, who have been thrown out of their homes by homophobic/transphobic guardians, access to benefits because they can not provide letters from parents attesting to their independence

Housing/ Homeless Crisis in NYC
We are witnessing the crystallization of a comprehensive strategy to displace low-income people from New York. Corrupt and undemocratic political structures, such as the Rent Guidelines Board, erode affordable housing and fail to hold irresponsible landlords accountable for code violations and illegal evictions. At the same time the homeless population is increasingly criminalized through selective law enforcement that protects the “quality of life” of economically privileged New Yorkers. We oppose the concerted effort to gentrify and privatize public spaces homeless people call home, which typically leads to intensified targeting of poor and homeless people by the NYPD. The struggle, led by poor queer youth, to maintain public access to and use of the piers in the West Village, perfectly illustrates what happens when a previously public park with long LGBTGNC history is privatized. We commend the efforts of FIERCE! for fighting to maintain public access to public land and support the efforts of Harlem Tenants Council, CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities & Movimiento en el Barrio in resisting gentrification in communities of color.

We applaud the Gender Identity Project, Sylvia Riviera Law Project, and other organizations that worked along side Queers for Economic Justice in successfully lobbying the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) to recognize gender self-determination in the New York City shelter system. We eagerly anticipate the full implementation of trans-sensitive policies, which would hopefully include comprehensive sensitivity trainings for staff at intake/assessment shelters.


We demand that:

  • NYC develops truly affordable housing and, in particular, develops housing for people living with AIDS and other special needs.

  • DHS acknowledge the violence LGBTGNC shelter residents face and make tangible steps to ending it/control of housing policy is returned to NYC through the repeal of the Urstadt Law, which took away home rule and brought rent-regulated housing under the control of an unaccountable state legislature.

  • the city enforces its own maintenance codes which protect the well-being of tenants, instead of targeting the most vulnerable New Yorkers by enforcing classist “quality of life” initiatives.

Immigrant Justice


As Immigrants we are forced to leave our homes because of U.S. imperialist policies that strip us of our rights, ravage our land, pollute our air and waters, and corrupt our governments. Undocumented residents of the U.S. must survive the violence of poverty without access to welfare, or obtain jobs that pay below minimum wage and work under deplorable conditions. And even though all immigrants pay taxes either through paid work, sales tax, and other taxes, we are categorically denied access to many tax funded services. We condemn the racist and xenophobic “immigration debates” currently occurring in congress, and oppose indefinite and mandatory detention of non-citizens, as well as the mass incarceration of people of color and low-income communities in the U.S. more broadly.

As documented or undocumented residents in the US we:


  • demand full access to ALL public benefits, genuine legalization and opportunities to adjust status for all undocumented immigrants, and the repeal of the HIV ban.

  • oppose heightened policing and criminalization of immigrant communities, including the increased militarization of the border and the use of city and state agencies to enforce federal immigration law.

Police and State Violence


Poor and working class LGBTGNC people are constantly targeted by the NYPD and other law enforcement officials. We demand an end to the classist, racist, transphobic, and homophobic attacks by the NYPD and oppose any attacks that further funnel our community into the Prison Industrial Complex, which does not provide real safety for our communities. We applaud the Safe Outside the System Collective & Critical Resistance for the work they do to provide real accountability that does not rely on prisons, police or jails.

We call on all poor and working class people, as well as anti-poverty allies in NYC to endorse this call to action, build contingents to march together in solidarity on April 17th, 2008 & demand economic justice for our communities!

3/26/08

What??!!



It's funny to hear O'Dowd compare Rev. Wright to David Duke when he went on WNYC earlier this year to talk about "abolishing St. Patrick's Day as we know it" and wanting to invite renowned racist and homphobe Ian Paisley to march in the NYC St. Patrick's Day Parade.

It appears that O'Dowd is the one that uses race issues when it suits him, whether it's to forgive Paisley, appease big business to "invest" in Northern Ireland, make sacrifices upon the altar of the Clinton dynasty, or use white privilege and entitlement as the cornerstone for the framing of ILIR's "Legalize the Irish" campaign.

As Irish Americans doing anti-racist work, IQ is interested in debate around these issues. What do you think of O'Dowd's comments? Leave a comment, start a debate.

3/24/08

Council of Europe calls on Ireland to legalize abortion

The report recommends that all 47 countries, which make up the Council of Europe, should guarantee women the right to have an abortion and promote cheaper contraception, along with improved sex education, to try to reduce the number of women who seek abortions.

To read full article from RTÉ, click here.

3/23/08

One-Third Of Irish Gay Couples Are Living in the US

AN estimated 1,200 Irish-born men and women – roughly one-third of Ireland’s gay couples — are living with a same-sex partner in the U.S., according to a new research paper from the Williams Institute, a public policy think tank at the University of California Los Angeles Law School.

To read more, click here for Cahir O’Doherty's article in the Irish Voice.

AOH to Irish Queers: "You can march in body bags."

(photo by Maggie M. Koopmans)

The protest site was marked by tension between demonstrators, who at times chanted, "Racist, sexist, anti-gay, NYPD go away," and uniformed police and firemen marching, who by and large conveyed either condescension or outright hostility.

One fireman from New Jersey shouted "fag" at the protesters, then scurried into the middle of his contingent when pursued by this reporter for his name.

A member of the AOH contingent in the parade was more frank in his hostility."You can march," he said, "in body bags."

3/19/08

More pics from St. Patrick's Day Protest




























Article on Immigration & St. Patrick's Day

Check out this article by Shaun Harkin on Counterpunch.

3/18/08

Video: Protesting NYPD/FDNY on anti-gay march

3/17/08

St. Patrick's Day








More commentary and pictures to follow...

AT ST. PAT’S PARADE, IRISH QUEERS CHALLENGE NYPD, FDNY’S RIGHT TO MARCH

Protesters call for ouster of thousands of uniformed public servants from anti-gay parade.

NYC – Irish Queers have assembled a picket line this morning at the New York St. Patrick's Day Parade, protesting the homophobia of the parade – and the uniformed public servants who march in it. Chanting “Irish queers into the Irish parade!” and “If gays can’t march, cops can’t either!” the protesters continue a 17-year challenge to the parade’s discrimination.

Since 1991, the parade has been imbued with an explicitly anti-gay message by organizers – which makes the City-sponsored participation of thousands of uniformed New York City police, firefighters and EMTs discriminatory and improper. Irish Queers has called on the Police and Fire Commissioners to prevent contingents of uniformed officers from marching in the parade.

“We’re sick of hearing city officials say they can’t intercede in the homophobia because it’s a religious march. If it’s a religious anti-gay parade, and uniformed cops and firefighters have to be pulled out,” said Tierney Gleason of Irish Queers. “It can’t be both privately religious and publicly Irish. It’s time for the city to pull the plug on this bait-and-switch game.”

“New Yorkers are reminded daily that police officers carry deep biases against the people they’re bound to serve – against people of color, against immigrants, people with AIDS, LGBT people. But public servants do not have the right to express those biases in their official capacity; to create an environment of fear and bias that denies us access to municipal services, especially emergency services,” said J.F. Mulligan, who organizes with Irish Queers. “Police participation totally violates the separation of church and state. Uniformed police have no right to march in this parade.”

The St. Patrick’s Day parade was legally redefined by the NYC Parade Committee as a private, religious procession in order to to justify keeping LGBT groups out. In the early 1990s, the Parade Committee used this defense to defeat a discrimination claim brought by the NYC Human Rights Commission. But the Archdiocese of New York, in an unrelated statement pertaining to Holy Week, recently issued a statement that it views the NYC St. Patrick’s parade as a purely civic event.

“The homophobia and vitriol of this parade – which we see every year as we picket – can no longer be hidden behind religion. The parade organizers are plain old bigots, abusing the platform of this important Irish American cultural event to express their hatred of LGBT people,” said Gleason. “The city must stop allowing the parade organizers this loophole to legalize discrimination.”

Irish Queers, which evolved out of the Irish Lesbian & Gay Organization in New York City, is active on immigrant justice, Northern Ireland self-determination, anti-racism, reproductive justice and other social justice issues.

3/16/08

Tomorrow is St. Patrick's Day....

....and we hope to see you on Fifth Ave @ 57th on the west side of the avenue. We'll assemble at 11am. We have plenty of signs.....just bring your fierce queer style & righteous rage!

3/15/08

PROTEST AT ANTI-GAY ST. PATRICK'S DAY PARADE TARGETS NYPD & FDNY


Marching in uniform violates City's anti-discrimination rules, say
Irish LGBT organizers.


What:

Protest against the anti-gay NYC St. Patrick's Day parade and the illegal participation of uniformed NYPD & FDNY contingents

Who:

Irish Queers, Irish & LGBT civil rights groups

When:

Monday, March 17 at 11am

Where:

Fifth Ave. at 57th St. (West side of the avenue)

More info:

The organizers of the NYC St. Patrick's Day parade, seeking to
legalize their discrimination against Irish lesbian, gay, bisexual &
transgender marchers, have redefined the parade as a private,
religious procession. No longer an Irish celebration or even a public
event, the Fifth Avenue parade is now legally categorized as a
religious march bearing an explicitly anti-gay message. Organizers
have proudly called the march "a triumph of Catholic values over
homosexuality."

In spite of this clearly discriminatory message, New York City public
servants – including police, firefighters and emergency service
workers – regularly join in the anti-gay spectacle by the thousands.
Their ongoing participation in the anti-gay parade confirms the fears
of many within the LGBT community that we cannot rely on the city's
emergency service workers to respect our rights as New Yorkers, nor
can we call on them for our safety.

Irish Queers – along with other New York LGBT groups, and Irish
community members who oppose discrimination – will protest this
violation of the human and civil rights of LGBT people.

Irish Queers calls on Mayor Bloomberg, Police Commissioner Kelly and
Fire Commissioner Scoppetta to disallow uniformed officers from
marching in the St. Patrick's Day parade.

This is what Irish American bigotry looks like



This is what Irish American anti-gay bigotry looks like. This is the warm welcome GLIB received in Boston in 1992 when they marched in the Boston St. Patrick's Day Parade. This photo taken by Marilyn Humphries comes from Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders website where they are profiling memorable cases from their 30 year history. For further information, check out the resources listed.

3/8/08

From the Archives: Bronx Irish reject crusty old homophobia

New York Times, January 17, 1993

The Talk of the North Bronx; Irish Voice Wide Passions Over the St. Patrick's Day Parade

By DEBORAH SONTAG
As a soft snow fell over the North Bronx, Patrick McKnight lamented the Irish community's preoccupation with a celebration turning sour with controversy.

"Shouldn't we be more concerned about getting the English out of Ireland than getting the homosexuals out of the St. Patrick's Day parade?" Mr. McKnight asked as he sipped coffee at the Cafe An Beal Bocht in Riverdale.

Nonetheless, Mr. McKnight, a 26-year-old emigrant from Dublin, did not hesitate to hurl himself into the parade debate. And neither did anyone else approached on Thursday on the wintry streets and in the overheated churches and cafes of Norwood and Riverdale.

For however piddling the controversy seemed to some, it touched on larger issues for many -- in particular, the fading authority of the Catholic Church over young people and the waning power of the Irish in New York City politics.

"People say it's not our town anymore, and believe me, this is another nail in the coffin," said William O'Meara, 50, owner of the Greentree Restaurant on Bainbridge Avenue in Norwood.

Mr. O'Meara belongs to the Ancient Order of Hibernians, which has run the parade for 151 years and steadfastly refuses to allow the Irish Gay and Lesbian Organization to march.

Earlier this month, the city intervened, granting a parade permit to a new, conciliatory committee that aims to include both the gay group and the Hibernians.

But while some Irish-Americans were thrilled to see power wrested from the Hibernians, many others plan to boycott the March 17 parade if the Hibernians do not win a court battle to regain control.

For now, many in the city's Irish community are not pleased; not with the fighting among themselves, and not with what some see as the city's intrusiveness. In interviews, many talked as if the parade were a referendum on changing times, as if its fate were somehow linked to their future as a community. Shaking Up the Status Quo

Rushing in from the morning chill, Marie Noonan warmed herself over tea and a raisin scone at the Traditional Irish Bakery in Norwood.

"I would be in favor of the gay people," said Ms. Noonan, a 26-year-old who immigrated four years ago. She noted that a gay group marched without incident in last year's St. Patrick's Day Parade in County Cork.

"It's about time the Ancient Order was shook up," she said, smiling. "They've had too much of a stranglehold on everything in the Irish community."

The parade debate reveals a fissure between generations, Ms. Noonan said. And at another table, Eileen Siegelman, a vivacious 74-year-old native of Galway, seemed to prove her point.

"If the homosexuals want to have their private affairs, go ahead," she said. "Don't make a splash of it. They're spoiling a whole parade, and a whole day."

Tucking a tuft of white hair into her beret, Ms. Siegelman continued. "Why do people want to come in and mess up an institution?" she asked. Her voice trailed off. "Everything in life has been messed up. Sad, isn't it?" 'Down the Tubes'

Several blocks away, in front of the Copley Apartments, Donald E. Powell and his neighbor, Thomas McInerney, were enjoying the blustery weather and bemoaning the disintegration of society. "I think the parade is going the same way New York City is going," said Mr. Powell, a retired mail carrier. "Straight down the tubes. Don't you think, Tom?"

Mr. McInerney said: "I shouldn't comment. My wife says I talk too much." Mr. Powell elaborated on his thesis. "The parade is just like society," he said. "They're giving too many rights to too many people. What's all this jumping out of the closet and making demands? It weakens the structures.

"Since World War II, down, down, down. Everything is going down." A Quick Prayer

John Hourican, a 23-year-old security guard and nutrition student, dashed into St. Brendan's Catholic Church for a quick prayer.

He paused in the vestibule as the pews were filling up with retirees for the noon Mass.

"A lot of older people want to stick with tradition, which kind of means hiding from the things that are really going on these days," Mr. Hourican said. "But discrimination isn't very Christian. What's the big deal if gay people march in a parade?"

Marie McGreevy, a retiree, thinks it is a very big deal, indeed. Everyone should march behind the banner of their Irish county, and not the banner of their sexuality, she said.

"My father, who came from the other side, must be turning over in his grave," Mrs. McGreevy said. "Tell you the truth, the Irish never thought they had, you know, any gay."

Mrs. McGreevy was joined by Elizabeth Pryor and Frances Miller.

"God help them," Mrs. Pryor said, referring to gay people in general.

"The Church condemns their life style, so they can't march in a Catholic celebration," Mrs. Miller said. "It's that simple." 'Honor St. Patrick'

At the Village Pub on Bainbridge Avenue, the owner, John Flynn, said that his customers, "a regular bunch of guys and girls," were planning to boycott the parade.

"We just think homosexuals don't have any place," he said. "The whole point is to honor St. Patrick."

Down the street, as lunchtime was ending at the Greentree Restaurant, Mr. O'Meara, the owner, took a seat and apologized for his demeanor.

"Usually I'm very vocal, but I'm so down about this whole thing," said Mr. O'Meara, a member of Hibernian Division Nine. "It just seems like the beginning of the end for the Irish in this city. I feel bad."

Mr. O'Meara blamed Mayor David N. Dinkins for "stepping on our parade."

"He's made a political decision in favor of his gay constituency, and it's nothing short of Catholic bashing," Mr. O'Meara said. "First the Rainbow curriculum, now this."

Mr. O'Meara pointed out that he did not consider himself a gay basher, and that he has even had gay employees at the restaurant -- "although maybe you shouldn't mention that."

He said he had suggested that the members of the Irish Gay and Lesbian Organization march with lavender armbands or sashes. But that idea was rejected, because "this is war," he said.

Everyone he knows will boycott "Mr. Dinkins's parade," Mr. O'Meara said. "So what he's going to have is a parade of misfits." Where to Draw the Line?

In the late afternoon at the Cafe An Beal Bocht in Riverdale, Rosann MacDonnell, a 29-year-old immigrant, prepared a cappuccino and discussed her disdain for the whole controversy.

"They're making more a mountain out of a molehill," she said. "What the Ancient Order needs is a couple of members under the age of 65."

In the back of the cafe, Mary Brosnan, who works as a home help aide, was far less jocular. "I feel like crying now myself," she said. "It was always such a beautiful tradition and this is kind of spoiling it."

But back up front, Ms. MacDonnell continued. "If they want to march, let 'em march," she said.

Her fellow employee, Siobhan McCormack, 22, was stunned. "You think anybody should have the right?" she said. "What if people wanted to walk naked?"

"Let them, let them," Ms. MacDonnell said.

"I don't know," Ms. McCormack said. "Where do you draw the line?"

Ms. MacDonnell answered: "At the end of Fifth Avenue."

3/2/08

An inclusive St. Patrick's Day Parade looks like this...

Just a few pictures from yesterday...

Pete Hamill and Malachy McCourt having a chat & watching the Keltic Dreamers dance troupe...


The Keltic Dreamers dance troupe...


Parading along Skillman Ave...this is so much more festive than Manhattan, isn't it?


Wow, a banner about immigrant & workers rights...you won't see that in Manhattan.


Banners with Mother Jones and the Berrigan brothers...


Hombres Latinos de Ambiente from the Bronx...



Veterans for Peace


RHA




And of course, a *tiny* number of misguided nutcases with bad grammar that don't understand that lesbians and homosexuals are the same f&%king thing. Whatever.

Speaking of homophobes, two of us Irish Queers had a funny experience while flyering folks along the parade route to come to our protest. Two women (which we assumed were sisters since the looked a lot alike) thought we were handing out anti-gay literature so they yelled "HATERS!" at us. I then explained that we were queer and they apologized. As strange as the situation was, I have to admit that I love the idea of parade-watching Irish Americans yelling at homophobes. If there are any other Irish Americans out there that have the guts to brazenly challenge bigots, you should come to our protest on March 17th. We'd love to have you join us!


More queer commentary on the parade can be found on Blabbeando.