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Famed NYC Gay Bar Dumping Guinness in Protest of St. Pat's Parade Policy

By Jess Wisloski | March 16, 2014 5:32pm
 Guinness, which sponsors the St. Patrick's Day Parade, became a target for gay rights groups after Boston Beer Company and Heineken dropped sponsorship of St. Paddy's Day parades with policies that barred participation by openy gay participants or groups.
Guinness In Line of Fire for Gay Rights Groups
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GREENWICH VILLAGE — While revelers fill the streets of Midtown with bright green decorations and cheer on the St. Patrick's Day Parade, members of the LGBT community and allies will be holding protests around town in hopes of bringing the parade's ban on openly gay, lesbian and transgender marchers and families into the spotlight.

The Stonewall Inn, a historic landmark in the gay rights movement, will revel in a mass dumping of Guinness beer to protest of the brewery's sponsorship of the parade, following a morning press conference held by GLAAD, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.

"By supporting the New York City St. Patrick's Day Parade, Guinness is telling its LGBT customers and employees that it supports the parade's discriminatory ban," Sarah Kate Ellis, CEO of GLAAD said. "It's time for Guinness, other sponsors and Irish New Yorkers to speak out in favor of an inclusive parade that welcomes the Irish spirit of love and family."

The move came after Heineken withdrew its sponsorship of the city's parade, saying it was "passionate about equality for all people," and also after the maker of Sam Adams dropped sponsorship of Boston's parade under pressure from GLAAD and other groups.

An owner or manager at Stonewall could not be reached for comment about Monday's 1 p.m. event, but Pieces Bar, also in the Village, and Hardware Bar in Hell's Kitchen have also vowed to stop carrying the beer, GLAAD's release said.

Earlier in the day, Irish Queers, a gay-rights organization that has protested the parade's ban on openly gay marchers for 20 years, was set to hold a press conference and protest along the parade route at 10:30 a.m. along with other advocacy groups to "condemn decades of homophobia by parade organizers," a release said.

"The ban on gay and lesbian people marching openly forces me, as a proud Irish New Yorker, to look my five year-old twins in the eye and tell them that the parade organizers don't think our family is good enough to join in the celebration," Ellis added in the GLAAD release.

The tea party-esque dumping mimics actions taken by area bars last year, when several New York bars publicly dumped Stoli and other Russian brands of alcohol as a symbolic boycott of the country's products following news of homophobic laws and mass arrests of LGBT activists at gatherings in Russia. It also mirrored the boycott of Coors launched by Harvey Milk among the gay community in the 1970s, citing the company's anti-union and anti-gay hiring practices.

The morning protest and rally will take place at 10:30 a.m. on the west side of Fifth Avenue, between 56th and 57th streets. The Guinness dump was set to take place at 53 Christopher Street at 1 p.m.

[*Editor's Note* Less than an hour after first publishing this story GLAAD released a statement saying Guinness pulled sponsorship of the parade. The update in the form of a new story is here.]