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.