(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.

Irish Queers


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.

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****!"

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!!

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.


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


Irish & LGBTQ groups, elected officials renew boycott of 2015 parade (Press release)

Photo: @IvanPer4 (Ivan Pereira, AM-NY)
PRESS RELEASE – For immediate release

Date: Feb. 17, 2015
Contact:  Emmaia Gelman, 917-517-3627, irishqueers@gmail.com


Irish and LGBTQ groups and elected officials reject parade’s discrimination; secret deal with OUT@NBC leaves in place the long-standing ban on Irish LGBTQ groups.

New York – Irish and LGBTQ community groups and elected officials today announced the renewed boycott of the NYC St. Patrick’s Day parade in 2015. They pledged to uphold the boycott until Irish LGBTQ groups can march under their own banners on the same terms as other groups. Protests will also continue at the parade.

Last year, as the Mayor and the City Council joined the boycott and corporate sponsors withdrew, pressure mounted on the parade’s remaining sponsors, including NBC. In September, parade organizers revealed a backroom deal in which NBC's gay employee group, but no Irish LGBTQ groups, would be admitted to the parade in 2015.

Irish LGBTQ groups duly applied to march as well. In reply, parade organizers claimed there was “no room” for Irish LGBTQ groups in 2015, but they “could apply in future years.” But parade organizers now reiterate that Irish LGBTQ people can only march if they are not identifiable – in other words, as long as they remain invisible in the Irish community – and that no future end to the exclusion is planned. The ban on Irish LGBTQ groups remains in place, as it has since 1991.

“After 25 years of trickery and bigotry by the parade committee, no one is fooled when they say the parade is too short, or that Irish LGBTQ people just have to wait our turn behind NBC’s gay employees. They’ve always tried to sweep Irish LGBTQ people under the rug, rather than admit we’re part of the Irish community.” said J.F. Mulligan of Irish Queers. “The parade organizers haven’t suddenly stopped being anti-gay. They still seem terrified that Irish LGBTQ people exist and walk among them. They’ve tried to evade us by making this deal with a corporate gay group.”

"The Fifth Avenue St. Patrick's Day parade, unfortunately, remains non-inclusive,” said Council Member Daniel Dromm. “This has always been about including an Irish gay organization, not some corporate backed gay group.  Until the parade is truly representative of all Irish people, I don't believe anyone should march in it. New York must do what is done in Ireland and allow Irish lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people to participate. It's just that simple.”

“We've boycotted the St. Patrick's Day Parade in Manhattan for a simple reason: refusing to allow Irish LGBT New Yorkers to celebrate their heritage and their identity by marching in the parade is discriminatory,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “Almost all New Yorkers know that continued exclusion of Irish LGBT New York organizations from the parade is wrong. This longstanding struggle isn't solved by cloaking a little-known LGBT group under a quasi-corporate banner.”

“People who support equality must not accept anything less then full, open participation for members of the Irish LGBT community,” said Allen Roskoff, President of the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club. “Full equality means participating as identifiable and proud members of the Irish LGBT community. The days of denying our existence by exclusion in the St Patrick’s Day Parade are over. This is not the time for acceptance of a gesture which is hollow, discriminatory and insulting. One must never compromise to bigotry." 

"We will never march in a parade that is not fully open and inclusive of all New Yorkers. Homophobia fuels the AIDS epidemic. It isn't just a personal opinion when it's on display for millions of New Yorkers to witness. NYC has to stop rolling out the welcome wagon for bigots. This public policy – which is what it is – is wrong. The parade should be inclusive or it shouldn't exist," said Jennifer Flynn of VOCAL-NY.