Irish LGBTQs to Gay Inc: Please don't apply to march

[This letter was emailed to national LGBT advocacy organizations on Sept. 7 and 8, 2014.]


Dear LGBT advocacy organizations,

As we're sure you know, Irish LGBTQ groups have been fighting for inclusion in the NYC St. Patrick's Day Parade for over 20 years. Irish Queers (and its predecessor, the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization, and other groups and allies) has suffered hundreds of arrests for civil disobedience, many years of protesting from the sidelines, and an endless history of enduring insults, threats and beer bottles thrown by parade participants and spectators. Brendan Fay and His Lavender and Green Alliance created a now much-respected and beloved St. Pat's for All inclusive parade in Queens.

Nothing has deterred us from showing up every year on Fifth Avenue and continuing to demand inclusion as Irish people and Irish-Americans in what should be our parade, too. Our annual exclusion is the subject of worldwide headlines every year.

Now the headlines have changed. But the war is not yet won. Parade organizers are trying to finesse their loss of major sponsors by offering a place in the line of march to an LGBTQ employee group from NBC (the parade broadcaster). Parade organizers did not discuss this with any of us, nor have they made a single move to include an actual Irish LGBTQ group.

So we are making formal application for inclusion in the 2015 Parade. We would like your support. We would like you to show up at our press conference on Tues., Sept. 9, at 9am on the steps of the NY Public Library at Fifth Ave. and 40th St. We would like you to contact the parade organizers to support our application. 

And we would like you NOT to apply to march yourselves. This is an explicitly Irish heritage parade. That's why we should be included. Because we are groups of Irish LGBT people. This parade is unique. Unlike the LGBTQ Pride Parades or the Puerto Rican Day Parade or most others, this one does not welcome all comers. It's very closed and specific.

Please do not apply to march. Please support the application of Irish LGBTQ people to march.

Thank you,

Irish Queers
Lavender and Green Alliance
St. Pat's for All


Parade "too long" to let IQ in? Catholic League has just made room.

The Catholic League, huge supporter of the parade till now.
The NYC St. Patrick's Day parade is a hot mess. Being secretive and bossy and then trying to keep your story straight is super complicated. The parade organizers did something silly when they conspired with NBC to let its gay employee marketing group join the parade, but not Irish LGBTQ groups.

Amazingly, it seems like they thought it would pass quietly, or even that they'd be celebrated for their magnanimity. After all these years, they still don't get that you can't run a community's parade -- a very diverse community of millions across many countries -- as if it were a secret club with offices in a locker room.

They also seem to think we don't remember the tricks they've used in the past to pretend they weren't excluding anyone. (Set aside the strange argument that LGBT people are welcome to march as long as they march in the closet, unidentified.) First they tell us (through the press) that we "can apply to march" and then they tell us they can't take our application because "they're under pressure to shorten the parade." Are we talking about 1992 or 2014? Hard to tell!

The parade committee unleashed an outpouring of support for LGBT marchers when they announced the (fake) end of the ban last week. Given that outpouring, they panicked when all of NYC's Irish LGBT groups applied to march. Hemming and hawing, they pretended the applications were suddenly closed. No more room in the parade! The position is filled! Fifth Avenue is only so many blocks long, you know.

But the Catholic League got thrown out with the parade's panicky bathwater. They'd been promised an anti-abortion group could apply and march in exchange for NBC's gay marchers. Who knew the applications would be gay-panic-closed before they got to do that? The logistics of exclusion are really so complicated. So the Catholic League has pulled out of the parade.

And that makes room for one more contingent. It seems there's room in the parade after all for Irish LGBT people, huh,


Statement: Still here, still queer, still Irish; and applying to march.

(Photo: Donna Aceto, Gay City News 9/9/14)

Sept. 9, 2014

Last week we learned that the NYC St. Patrick's Day parade made a backroom deal to invite OUT@NBC Universal, a gay marketing group, to march in the 2015 parade. Today, Irish Queers are applying to march in the 2015 St. Patrick’s Parade, along with Lavender and Green Alliance and St. Pat’s for All.

It’s no secret that parade organizers don’t want to admit that Irish LGBT people are part of the Irish community; and that they use their control over the parade permit to keep us out. Two decades of calls from Ireland and NYC to end the bigotry have not changed the parade committee’s minds.

They’re under pressure now, but they haven’t changed their tune. When Guinness, Heineken, and elected officials dropped out of the parade last year, NBC told the parade committee they couldn’t keep sponsoring unless the anti-gay ban were lifted. So OUT@NBC offered itself as a painless solution. Gay corporate staff can march (under a banner that doesn’t say the word “gay”), NBC saves face, and the parade keeps NBC’s sponsorship – without doing a thing to end the exclusion of Irish LGBT groups.

Parade organizers have said in the press that Irish LGBT groups “can apply to march in future years” and that inviting NBC’s gays is “a gesture of goodwill.” This is an unwelcome bit of Irish nostalgia. ILGO was also told by parade organizers in the early 1990s to "apply to march." The organizers pretended ILGO was on a waiting list because the parade was too long, and made excuses for refusing our application that were uncovered later in court.

Now, less than a week since their “gesture of goodwill”, the parade committee is saying they can’t entertain our application because they’re “under pressure to shorten the parade.” ARE. YOU. SERIOUS.

We’re submitting our application today. And we’re calling on OUT@NBC Universal to refuse to march until Irish LGBT groups march in the Irish parade, under our own banners. We call on OUT@NBC not to be pawns in this triangulation of homophobia, money, and PR.

We want to march up Fifth Avenue as an Irish diaspora that has finally joined Ireland in rejecting religion-fueled bigotry. Let Irish queer groups finally take our place in this year's parade.



Join IQ for press conf. - applying to march!

Please join Irish Queers, the Lavendar and Green Alliance and St. Pat's for All this Tuesday as we announce our applications to march in the St Patrick's Day parade in 2015.

Tues. Sept. 9, 9am

Steps of the NY Public Library, 40th St and Fifth Ave.!

Last week parade organizers announced a secret deal permitting only the gay employee group of the parade's corporate sponsor -- and not any Irish LGBTQ groups -- to march in the parade. 

We apply while remembering that ILGO was also told by the parade organizers to “apply to march”. The parade organizers- many of the same people who will review our application now, told ILGO that they were on a waiting list, which was a lie. Applying again is “our gesture of goodwill”.

So many hundreds of queers, Irish community activists, and supporters have worked to end bigotry and exclusion in the parade -- come out, everyone!

Info: 917-517-3627 or irishqueers@gmail.com

Web: http://irishqueers.blogspot.com


Statement on St Patrick's Parade/OUT@NBC announcement

Irish Queers -- along with the scores of LGBT individuals, groups, and allies who have fought since 1991 for a parade that includes the whole Irish community -- is learning about the change in the NYC St Patrick's Day parade at the same time as the rest of New York City and the Irish community. We welcome this cracking of the veneer of hate, but so far Irish LGBT groups are still not able to march in our community's parades. The fight continues.

This is a deal that was made behind closed doors between parade organizers and one of their last remaining sponsors, NBC. It allows NBC's gay employees to march, but embarrassingly has not ended the exclusion of Irish LGBT groups. The parade organizers have said, astoundingly, that we "can apply" in years to come.

To the extent that parade organizers have changed their tune, it's the result of Irish Queers' many years of organizing, which led to last year's refusal to march by Council Speaker Mark-Viverito and others, and Mayor de Blasio, the withdrawal of major corporate sponsors and escalating criticism of uniformed city workers marching in the Parade.

We welcome this small victory, but our call remains the same -- the parade must be open to Irish LGBT groups, not "in subsequent years" but now. (We remember too well how parade organizers used fake waiting lists to bury our appications before.)

The Irish community in Ireland and abroad is far more progressive than the parade committee, having abandoned the secretive power-mongering of the days when the Catholic Church held sway over politics. We still hope NYC will catch up. This has been a long, long journey and struggle. It is time for Irish LGBT people, marching under our own banner, to take our rightful place in the St. Patrick's Day Parade.

Info: 917-517-3627 or irishqueers@gmail.com