This Was the Gayest St. Patrick's Day Ever, Relatively Speaking
The Irish Queers protest at the 2014 St. Patrick's Day Parade
All photos by Jenna Pope
While St. Patrick's Day revelers were puking technicolor green on each other all up and down 5th Avenue, a mass beericide was narrowly averted at the Stonewall Inn, as part of what turned out to be a (relatively) gay-friendly St. Patrick's Day. The famed gay bar had planned a mass dumping of Guinness yesterday afternoon, to protest the company's decision to sponsor the official, no-gays-allowed St. Patrick's Day parade. Stacy Lentz, co-owner of the Stonewall, says the bar planned to dump between 10 and 15 cases of the beer.
But late Sunday, Guinness announced it would pull its sponsorship of the parade, writing: "Guinness has a strong history of supporting diversity and being an advocate for equality for all. As this has not come to pass, Guinness has withdrawn its participation. We will continue to work with community leaders to ensure that future parades have an inclusionary policy." The Stonewall canceled its planned beer-dumping and proceeded with its $10 Guinness and Jameson special, allowing everyone to dump beer down each other's gullets, where it belongs. (Heineken also pulled its support for the New York parade, as did Sam Adams in Boston.)
At the same time, both New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh were declining to march in their city's parades, citing the anti-gay policies. The Irish Queers, a group that's been protesting the parade for more than two decades, see a sea change underway.
The Irish Queers called the reversal "amazing," saying this year was unlike any previous St. Patrick's Day for LGBT-friendliness. But in a statement issued yesterday, they still called out the New York Police and Fire Departments for their participation in the official parade, writing, "It's tragic that beer companies have a stronger moral compass than the NYPD."
The Queers, as is their custom, protested along the 5th Avenue parade route, holding up a big rainbow colored banner that read "Boycott Homophobia" and engaging in an awkward staring contest with uniformed officers as they marched by:
On Facebook afterwards, they wrote, "A great protest, now that the parade sponsors are even behind us! This was a totally different year than ever before. Amazing."
In the official statement, though, they noted that there's still room for improvement:
Those who still stand with the parade are making a clear choice to endorse bigotry. That includes Ford Motors, NBC, Fordham University - and the NYPD. It's incredible that the whole world is decrying the homophobia of the parade, but New York's police and fire departments still think it's somehow okay to march in uniformed, official contingents of thousands of officers.
They also made it clear they're less than impressed with new-old Police Commissioner Bill Bratton, adding, "Commissioner Bratton's disregard for LGBT New Yorkers at this parade tells all of our communities that anti-discrimination laws won't protect us from the NYPD. We may have a new Mayor who's interested in reform, but his police commissioner is bringing ugly back."
The Queers add that de Blasio needs to require Bratton "to do better on respectful policing, before more damage is done. It would be sad and embarrassing if the LGBT community had to sue the City to uphold its own anti-discrimination law, but we will if we have to." Neither Bratton nor the NYPD nor the FDNY have officially responded to the criticisms of their participation in the parade.
On the other side of the aisle, inevitably, there's now a #BoycottGuinness hashtag, calling them out for "political correctness" and "cultural fascism."
Click through for more photos from Jenna Pope and the full statement from the Irish Queers.
Pouring a Guinness at the Stonewall Inn
Stonewall patrons celebrate St. Patrick's Day
STATEMENT FROM IRISH QUEERS PROTEST @ NYC ST. PATRICK'S DAY PARADE
MARCH 17, 2014
We are encouraged and happy that Heineken and Guinness have just dropped their sponsorship of the NYC St Patrick's Day parade because of the parade's unapologetic homophobia. The hatred represented by this parade has gotten clearer and more untenable every year for more than two decades.
Those who still stand with the parade are making a clear choice to endorse bigotry. That includes Ford Motors, NBC, Fordham University - and the NYPD. It's incredible that the whole world is decrying the homophobia of the parade, but New York's police and fire departments still think it's somehow okay to march in uniformed, official contingents of thousands of officers. It's tragic that beer companies have a stronger moral compass than the NYPD.
There's pressure on other sponsors to do the right thing before next year's parade. When sponsors finally stop paying for religious-right homophobia, the parade can go back to being Irish and including the rich diversity of the Irish American community.
That will be a day to celebrate, and we want to be clear that we won't accept anything less. We'll be challenging the homophobes who have hijacked our parade until Irish LGBT groups can march up Fifth Avenue behind a banner just like everyone else. Like our friends in Boston, we won't be cutting any deals about leaving out words like "gay" or "lesbian" or "transgender." We'll join the parade as Irish lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people, without reservation. And we'll insist that the parade be open to all of Ireland's diversity, from religion to color to culture.
Until that day, Irish Queers is here protesting the NYPD's participation in this bigoted parade. We're joined by groups of people of color, homeless folks, and queer youth - just a few of the New York communities made unsafe by biased policing. Commissioner Bratton's disregard for LGBT New Yorkers at this parade tells all of our communities that anti-discrimination laws won't protect us from the NYPD. We may have a new Mayor who's interested in reform, but his police commissioner is bringing ugly back.
We need the Mayor to require Commission Bratton to do better on respectful policing, before more damage is done. It would be sad and embarrassing if the LGBT community had to sue the City to uphold its own anti-discrimination law, but we will if we have to.
We extend a special St. Patrick's Day welcome to the queer community in Ireland, and the Irish government ministers and TDs who have firmly and publicly told the NYC parade organizers that homophobia isn't Irish culture. Happy St. Patrick's Day from Irish Queers.
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