'Tis the St. Patrick's Day season.......

.....and Irish Queers are shaking things up for the 17th year in a row. Here is our latest Press Advisory:

As Council Speaker Quinn fades out of challenge to NYC St. Patrick’s parade, Irish Queers press her for commitments

Irish Queers submitted a request for clarification to NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn last week (excerpts below) charging the Speaker with wooing both sides of the St. Patrick’s Day parade issue – both Irish and other gay activists, and conservative and church-linked Irish American power brokers. The letter requested that Speaker Quinn make clear her position on the parade, its organizers, and her willingness to provide meaningful support to progressive sectors of the NYC Irish community who oppose the religious right, and homophobia.

Speaker Quinn has not replied to Irish Queers with any commitments of support, nor any answers to questions about her activities in the Irish American community – although on Gay USA, a national cable television program, she claimed last week that she didn’t know she was joining NYC Parade Committee chair John Dunleavy for a posed photograph at a United Irish County Associations dinner.

Irish Queers plans to protest the NYC St. Patrick's Day parade, which explicitly excludes Irish LGBT people unless they remain closeted. In the last decade, the Parade Committee has transformed the march into a 'religious procession' and has re-branded itself to include an anti-gay message. The protest will take place at 57th Street and 5th Avenue, beginning at 11am on March 17th.

[Our letter to Christine Quinn from February 19, 2008]

…You’ve stood with us in the past, but in the last few years we’ve seen you wooing both conservative Irish American figures and the LGBT community, showing each a different face. In 2006, we saw you attempting to strike a deal with parade organizers without talking to groups organizing against the parade’s homophobia. In 2007, we saw you marching in Dublin and talking about queer rights, yet we don’t see you at home talking about queer rights in front of the Irish American community… we’ve seen you support the NYPD without making any challenge to violent, politicized policing of queers and others. We heard you entertain the idea of inviting Ian Paisley, renowned racist and homophobe, to lead the NYC parade. So far in 2008, we’ve seen you mingling with anti-gay parade organizer John Dunleavy, and retreating from progressives in the LGBT community. We know you’re planning to join in the inclusive Queens parade, but we also know you’re aware that the eyes of the world – and the Irish community – are on Fifth Avenue.

Redelineate the boycott on the NYC St. Patrick’s Day parade. Stop giving cover to politicians who ignore the boycott – Hillary Clinton, Chuck Schumer and Michael Bloomberg among them – by standing with them everywhere but on Fifth Avenue and glossing over their decision to support religious-right homophobes. Don’t photo-op with the NYC St. Patrick’s Parade Committee and other supporters of the parade as if they’re lovely people who just happen to run an annual anti-gay public spectacle. Say out loud that those who march in the parade are joining in an event whose message is explicitly anti-gay, and hold them to account for their actions.

Demand that the city stop participating in the parade. Tell other city officials that they must not march – and if they do, impose political consequences on them. If cops and firefighters want to march, tell them they shouldn’t be representing the city in uniform.

Support the Irish queers and progressives who are doing this work. Stop being somewhere else on the day of the parade – turn up on the picket line. Don’t stand in for Irish queers in discourse about the parade with politicians, media, business groups and others. Instead, support grassroots voices to be heard by encouraging people to talk to Irish queers and progressives themselves.

Show that Irish queers are an integral part of the New York Irish community. Actively include secular Irish queers in official City Council celebrations of Irish community. Create opportunities for Irish New York to support and celebrate the accomplishments of Irish queers; don’t tack us on as an afterthought.

Don’t undermine queers and progressives in Ireland. Don’t stand with unrepentant bigots like Ian Paisley and propose that their targets – whether queers, Catholics or Irish republicans – should embrace those who attack us.