Resolutions 2016: Refusing white supremacy

Some of us may be wizened old queers with crusted-over hearts, but even we can find promise in the New Year. 2015 has been a tough year for hope. But -- mercifully -- white privilege has been made so stark that it has completely undone the idea of bystanders. We're all in the soup, and it's how we swim around in it that makes the difference.

Here are some ideas for pledges to white people to avoid supporting white supremacy, where we have the power to do it. Also some links that are related, but that definitely don't contain all the answers. It's just a starting point for thinking about how 2016 can be different because we make it so.


  • patronize restaurants or other venues where the front staff are all white, and the kitchen/rear staff are all people of color.
    Ethical eating app (ROC NYC)
  • call or involve police as a substitute for attempting to resolve problems with strangers or take care of another person.
  • rent an apartment from which another person has been evicted -- and I will ask why an apartment is vacant before renting it.
    Rent Responsibly App


  • cop-watch as a matter of habit: I will openly observe police on the street when they are questioning or arresting someone, and ask the person under police control if they are okay or need help.
    Color Of Change on CopwatchNYC
  • participate in at least two public protests or actions each year that have been organized by people of color contesting white supremacy -- in person, not online.
    NYC Shut It Down


Writing ourselves into history.

Thanks to Maggie Lally and Lisa Fane for the photo!
Here's a photo from our best-ever evening out: a warm and friendly toast at the end of a long, bitter road. Hooray for constant friends!

Incredible as it may seem, we now have to write ourselves into history. (We will, it's all good!) There are always the deniers. New Yorks' Irish and Irish American influential homophobes spent many years denying the actual existence of Irish LGBT people, and many more years denying our role in Irish home and diaspora communities. Some might have been happy enough to admit Irish gay people existed, but Irish queers and political radicals had to be cast as outside agitators: never really Irish.

For those who never liked Irish queers, it's easiest now to pretend that the parade committee just had a change of heart. Easiest to pretend the change has nothing to do with a quarter century of protest against the smallness of imagination represented by the parade committee and its politically-wired supporters. The work of pretending away Irish queers, activism, and the gains of civil disobedience has already begun in some of the reporting on the end of the parade ban.

That's a silly pretense, but it's effective. Wherever that story sticks, it makes protest seem wrong-headed. Instead, it routes all conversations about injustice through the boardrooms and backrooms that have created the injustice in the first place. There we become people who wait for change, know our place, never question the set up, nor the foot that kicks us, as the song says.

So our work isn't done until we secure the history, and claim the victory for refusing to shut up when told, and working outside the channels of power.


Thanks and goodbye to Brian Friel

Brian Friel, by Colin Davidson
"For the late playwright the past and our images of it were slippery and treacherous. Truth lay not in public facts but in private fictions."

Read Fintan O'Toole: The Truth According to Brian Friel (10/2/15)


Step out for a victory celebration! This Saturday.

Hey everyone! WE WON!!! The victory in the St. Patrick's Day parade belongs to everyone who supported the protests and organizing over the last 25 years. Stop by for a toast with Irish Queers!

Saturday, Oct. 3
Stonewall Inn, 53 Christopher St. NYC

A toast to never accepting crumbs instead of justice. And to communities sticking together in our many battles against police bigotry, the religious right, and big money politics.
YES WE #$%^& DID!



OMG!!!! We seriously won.
We are happy and relieved to announce that, after 25 years of struggle, we have won! The NYC St. Patrick’s Day parade has dropped its bigoted ban: an Irish LGBTQ contingent will finally march with its own banner in the parade next March 17th.

From the beginning, our demand has been for an Irish LGBTQ contingent to march behind their own banner saying who they are, like all other contingents. Today’s decision to invite the Lavender and Green Alliance does just that!

This is a victory for the grassroots organizing, civil disobedience, and street protest of the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization and its successor, Irish Queers. Protests held the line year after year where politics constantly failed. It’s also a victory for our beautiful queer and Irish community of support, stretching from New York City to Ireland and beyond.

The parade issue has never just been about LGBTQ people. Irish people’s struggles are part of our identity: challenges to religious bigotry, demands for women’s rights, Irish republicanism, and struggles against racism in New York and Ireland are irreducible parts of the Irish experience. Irish queers have often been at the forefront of those struggles. We are proud of the complexity of our lives and histories.

The desire to march and the protests against exclusion began as part of Irish queer people’s work to stem the homophobia-fueled tide of AIDS deaths, to push back on the power of the church in Ireland, and to end the pretense that Irish queers are not a central part of Irish culture and politics. Even as other battles were won, the parade’s ironclad combination of bigotry, religion, money, and city politics made it a long holdout against justice. We are tired but happy to see the end of it.

Our thanks: we’re thankful to the many ordinary New Yorkers who supported us over the last 25 years, as well as the many elected official who refused to march in the parade while we were left out. We’re thankful for David Dinkins and others who made real, tangible tries at giving Irish queer people their rightful place in the parade. And we’re grateful to and proud of the original members of the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization – who were also part of ACT UP, the Lesbian Avengers, and other important queer activist forces – who laid the groundwork for this victory.

We look forward to marching up Fifth Avenue with our community!


Irish Queers statement on John Dunleavy’s ouster

After John Dunleavy’s 25 years of being the standard-bearer for religious homophobia, Irish Queers are of course glad to see him go. Dunleavy’s contributions to the Irish community include likening Irish LGBT people to the KKK, and claiming that being openly gay is a political statement (while insisting with a straight face that the NYC St. Patrick’s Day parade is not a political event.) His positions finally became untenable; it’s only incredible that it has taken so long.

The reasons behind Dunleavy’s ouster are something to celebrate. In the referendum on May 22, Ireland roundly rejected homophobia and the authority of the Catholic church to dictate Irish culture. Irish Queers and its predecessor, the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization, have staged the same battle at the parade. We have posed the legacy of Irishness as a powerfully diverse set of experiences – and a history of throwing off chains – against the religious vision of Irishness as a closed, provincial identity that erases so many people’s real lives. The question of whether queers can take our place in Irish history and culture is now settled.

But the NYC St. Patrick’s Parade Committee is not led by the Irish or Irish American community. The parade is still exclusively held by the same men who enforced anti-gay bigotry over the past two decades. Their version of “inclusion” last year amounted to adding OUT@NBCUniversal instead of an Irish LGBT group. (OUT@NBC were so tightly controlled that, when asked by reporters how it felt to march, gay marchers they said they weren’t allowed to discuss it.) Who knows what exciting version of inclusion they’ll offer us this year with the addition of one more handpicked, battened-down group?

Some voices in Irish New York politics have called for parade organizers to end to the ban on “good” gays – those who have not protested, but instead participated in the fundraiser-and-mass circuit where the parade’s homophobes are welcomed. Taking that advice would be in keeping with the Parade Committee’s history of making the smallest change possible without actually opening the parade to Irish LGBT communities. But we were never in this to reform the men of the Parade Committee.

In breaking other chains, Ireland has represented itself brilliantly – from the referendum, to the rise of antiracist movements, to insisting that water is a human right. If the parade can’t catch on, it will find itself like John Dunleavy: out of time.


Watching Ireland's gay marriage referendum from queer NYC

Photo: mashable.com
Along with the rest of the world, we're watching Ireland today for the marriage referendum. We're not big on marriage… gay marriage in the US has been used as a way to take apart the queer movement that sees gender, race, class, health care, housing, policing, and corporate power as all part of the same web.


Ireland is another place.
  • In Ireland, the campaigning around the referendum has turned up some really intense homophobia, and we hope today's vote shows a victory over that.
  • Conservative religion and church power in Ireland have been challenged so importantly and beautifully in the past decade or so -- today's vote is another huge challenge, and that's unquestionably fabulous.
  • The NO campaign has tried to portray African and other migrants in Ireland as religious, conservative, and homophobic in an ugly racist fashion that mirrors how Western churches have been pushing homophobic laws in African states. Migrants have spoken out against the NO campaign's racism, and against homophobia. Today's YES vote will turn that racism on its head, we hope.
  • The YES campaign has been extremely white (not to mention full of images of queers as just regular folks, which is different in Ireland than here, but not so different...) We hope today's YES vote will make space for queers to be queer again, rather than normal.

 Good luck to Ireland from NYC Irish Queers.


Irish Queers gives it back to OUT@NBC (video)

Today, the day before the annual NYC St. Patrick's Day parade [protest], we thought we should swing by OUT@NBCUniversal's Facebook page. We're already completely appalled by OUT@NBC, the corporate gay/straight/marketing alliance that's marching in the antigay parade to the exclusion of the actual Irish queer groups who have been shoved aside for the last quarter century. But the video we found on their Facebook wall surpassed our expectations of badness.

NBC had made a sort of fake news piece where a gay NBC anchor Thomas Roberts (of Sochi boycott-violating fame) was interviewing the main OUT@NBC guy about how terrific it was that they were marching in the parade. In the video, they pretend to take on the concerns of the LGBT community about how OUT@NBC is undermining us. But they end up assuring everyone who has panned them for undermining the Irish struggle for inclusion (okay, so that's everyone, then) that they're actually doing it for us. Between the smarminess and the squirming, it would be a somewhat satisfying train wreck to watch if it weren't so totally deplorable.

OUT@NBC's video frankly exceeds the capabilities of an outraged press release in response. And OUT@NBC refuses to return our calls, so our options for reply are limited. But we're not the silent types! So you can watch the NBC puff piece here -- or you can watch Irish Queers' version below, in which we rage-eat cookies and finally get to talk smack to the stuffed shirts of OUT@NBC. Are we mad? Yeah, we are. In the American sense of the word.


Press release: At Tues. parade protest, plans to celebrate Irish LGBTQ icons, Bronx cheer for corporate sponsors

PRESS RELEASE – for immediate release
Date: March 15, 2015
Contact: Emmaia Gelman on 917-517-3627

Irish LGBTQ Protest of Exclusion Continues at 2015 NYC St. Patrick's Day Parade
Irish Queers welcome support from NYC officials & Ireland; condemn corporate sponsors.

Press Conference: Tues. March 17, 10:45am at Fifth Ave below W. 57th St.
Protest: Tues. March 17, 11am-1pm, same location.

Irish Queers and allies will protest the exclusion of Irish LGBTQ groups from the St. Patrick's Day Parade this Tuesday, March 17 at 11am. This year’s protest will feature images of cherished figures whose Irish or Irish-American and LGBTQ identities are inseparable – all of whom would be closeted or banned by the parade organizers.

Irish Queers is proud to count on the support of Mayor de Blasio and the City Council, who have again withdrawn their participation from this year’s parade, because the parade continues to marginalize and shame Irish LGBTQ people. We’re also proud of the ongoing support for inclusion coming from Ireland – gay and straight – where New York’s bigoted parade is widely regarded as an embarrassment. 

The parade committee's admission this year of the gay/straight alliance of their corporate sponsor, NBC, is not inclusion of Irish LGBTQ groups, but more exclusion. The demand has always been for Irish LGBTQ groups to march under banners that say who we are without shame – not corporate groups, marching behind an “OUT” banner that avoids mentioning “lesbian”, “gay”, “bisexual”, or “transgender.”

“There is no logic to letting OUT@NBC march except as another way to keep Irish LGBTQ groups out,” said Gaby Cryan of Irish Queers. “The parade organizers have claimed a right to discriminate against us because they’re running it as a Catholic procession. But even the Cardinal calls it ‘a celebration of all things Irish.’”

Guinness and Heineken have joined NBC in supporting the discriminatory parade while also claiming that they oppose discrimination.

“Guinness and Heineken, after dropping their sponsorship of the antigay parade for just one year, have used NBC’s trick as an excuse to resume sponsoring it. It’s totally perverse that Heineken has offered to put money into the inclusive Queens parade as well as the antigay parade. Playing both sides harms the LGBTQ community, and adds insult to injury,” said Eustacia Smith of Irish Queers.

Irish LGBTQ groups have been fighting to take our place in our community’s parade for 25 years. We hope that next year’s parade will finally see the end of discrimination – and that corporations and others who say they support inclusion will work with the Irish LGBTQ community, rather than through back room deals.



Thanks for a beautiful night.

Under a veil of snow, in a warmly lit cellar painted with murals of dancers, with full glasses, and in friendly company -- that's how Irish Queers and supporters spent last night at the Parlour.

Thanks again to Colm Tóibín, Sarah Schulman, and Charles Rice-Gonzalez for reading, storytelling, and drawing the connections between us all. Also to our surprise musical guest Susan McKeown, whose music and friendship have been part of Irish LGBTQ organizing in NYC since the beginning.

Big love to everyone who came out in the snow. It felt like family.


City Limits: Mayor de Blasio can do more than boycott

Exposing the parade organizers' sideways cuts at a religious "free speech" right to discrimination, and the NYPD and City Hall's wildly underreported support for the bigoted message of the parade... And calling on a mayor who has shown he cares about this issue to step all the way up to end the excuses.

Mayor must reckon with St. Patrick's Parade Legacies


"De Blasio's boycott alone may not be enough to end the discrimination, but he has the authority to do even more. The question of how to deal with the anti-gay parade has long been muddied by a 1993 court case refiguring it as a private, anti-gay Catholic procession. The mayor's boycott of the parade obscures another problem: City Hall has long supported the parade organizers' exclusion of Irish LGBT groups, and it hasn't stopped yet. If negotiations are underway – the mayor hasn't acknowledged them, but media reports have – then it's time to set the record straight on these two legacies. And it's time for the mayor to take the additional steps he can."

Statement on de Blasio boycott, Guinness, and NBC - March 3, 2015

Statement from Irish Queers and allies
March 3, 2015

We are heartened that Mayor Bill de Blasio gets that the inclusion of NBC’s corporate gay group in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade is, as he said on Sunday, “too small a change to merit a lot of us participating who have wanted to see an inclusive parade.” To end the 24-year boycott of the parade the organizers need to include identifiable Irish LGBTQ groups—who have long been welcomed in St. Patrick’s Day parades in Ireland. We are angered but not surprised that Guinness, which had long sponsored the exclusionary parade, is back in as a sponsor after a one-year hiatus.

We are appreciative that our allies—from elected officials such as Council Speaker Melisssa Mark-Viverito and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer to grassroots organizers and groups such as the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club to big LGBTQ advocacy organizations including GLAAD, the Empire State Pride Agenda, and the Anti-Violence Project—have held strong against the parade committee’s effort to divide us by admitting the NBC group.

Our message to the parade organizers is simple: Embrace your own. End the ban. Let us march with our people as who we are.

We urge Mayor de Blasio to hold fast and help end this exclusion once and for all. We will continue to boycott the parade until then and will once again protest the parade on March 17 on Fifth Avenue and W. 57th St. if a just resolution is not reached.


(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.



Letter & Card writing to prisoners -- second Sundays of the month

Please join Irish Queers' second Sunday of the month letter and card writing to prisoners, and pass along info to others. (Featuring tea and snacks, obv!)

3-5 pm, Sunday:  January 11, February 8, and March 8

Call or email for address!

(The apartment has an old codger of a dog for those that might have a dog allergy.)