A plane trailing a banner reading “Boycott Hi/Lo Tea! Fight For Full LGBT Rights!” will fly above the beach at Cherry Grove and Fire Island Pines on Sunday, June 7, between 2 pm and 3 pm. The action will underscore the LGBT community’s outrage over the April 20 meeting between Republican presidential candidate Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) and gay businessmen Ian Reisner and Mati Weiderpass, who subsequently donated money to the Cruz campaign. The two gay men also held an April 14 fundraiser at their Manhattan penthouse for Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI), another anti-LGBT politician.
Reisner and Weiderpass own most of the businesses in the Pines—including the Blue Whale, Sip-N-Twirl, and the Pavilion, where the “High Tea” and “Low Tea” cocktail hours are held—as well as the gay-oriented Out Hotel in Midtown Manhattan.“Two gay business owners are making money off of the LGBT community at a world-famous gay vacation spot and then giving that money to outspoken anti-LGBT politicians,” said Ken Kidd, a member of Queer Nation, the gay rights group that orchestrated the flyover. “Our community is out to win comprehensive federal legislation that will make LGBT Americans fully equal under the law. We will not be taken backward by funding anti-LGBT politicians.”
Last week a band of gay activist took to Fire Island this weekend to spread the news and point out which of the Fire Island properties belonged to Ian Reisner’s and should be boycotted in The Pines after the New York Times revealed that Reisner, who also owns OUT NYC hotel, lied about cutting a campaign check to ultra-conservative and anti-LGBT candidate Ted Cruz at the same time that he and his business partner Mati Weiderpass hosted a reception for Cruz in their Manhattan penthouse.
Reisner did, in fact, cut a check for $2,700, the maximum individual contribution allowed.
While many knew of Reisner’s ownership of the OUT-NYC Hotel complex many are unaware of his specific holdings in the Fire Island Pines.
That is until now.
The flyer urges the a boycott of some of Fire Island’s most historic gay landmarks like the Pavilion, Botel, Bistro, Sip-N-Twirl, Blue Whale, Pines Pizza, and the Cultured Elephant.
When the gay hoteliers Ian Reisner and Mati Weiderpass found themselves under siege for hosting a dinner for Ted Cruz, the Texas senator who is running for president and has been vociferously opposed to same-sex marriage, they repeatedly stressed that the event was not a fund-raiser.
“There were no checks given, it was nothing like that,” Mr. Reisner told New Yorkmagazine, after The New York Times first reported on the mid-April dinner at the Central Park South penthouse. Protests and calls for boycotts of Mr. Reisner’s and Mr. Weiderpass’s properties, including their groundbreaking hotel for gay clientele, the Out NYC, ensued.
As it turns out, Mr. Reisner himself wrote a check to Mr. Cruz’s presidential campaign, making a $2,700 donation — the maximum allowed in a nominating contest — around the time the dinner took place. But shortly after The Times reported on the dinner, where about 18 people sat down at two tables in separate areas of the palatial penthouse, Mr. Reisner called the campaign and asked for his check to be refunded.
“In the interest of transparency, I gave Senator Cruz a $2,700 check to show my support for his work on behalf of Israel,” Mr. Reisner said in a statement he provided after The Times learned of the donation from two people with direct knowledge of it. “When I realized his donation could be misconstrued as supporting his anti-gay marriage agenda, I asked for the money back. Senator Cruz’s office gave the money back, and I have no intention of giving any money to any politicians who aren’t in support of L.G.B.T. issues.”
After hosting rabidly anti-gay Republican Ted Cruz, and his partner Ian Reisner calling gays “cheap” and “entitled” one would think that the quisling multi-millionaire gay owners of OUT NYC hotel and entertainment complex in NYC would know better by now.
Mati Weiderpass had to open his mouth again in an op-ed for New York Observer playing victim this time and claiming that he and his reputation are the ones being attacked by big bad “gay extremists”
“Since hosting a discussion with Texas Senator Ted Cruz in my home, I have been inundated with hateful, biased social media messages, and attacks from gay extremists (do I dare say the word?) who demand inclusion, but do not believe in dialogue. I know in my heart that these attacks do not represent the rich culture and diversity of the gay community. Yet, in our community, as in so many others, the most vocal often dominate the conversation. I hope this op-ed will help heal wounds and continue necessary progress and discussion. It is amazing that my businesses are being boycotted by some because I hosted a discussion with an elected official. Not a fundraiser. Not an endorsement. A dialogue. What would we say if the Jewish community organized a boycott of a business leader who hosted a private discussion with an important Muslim politician? We know the answer. I am a longtime leader of my community – and proud of who I am and what I have accomplished. Boycotting me for a discussion? Since when have we grown so small and intolerant?”
“You know, it’s so ironic — I wanted to build kind of a community center in the gateway to Hell’s Kitchen, which in 2008–2009 was already a gay place and now it’s even gayer. Very close to Broadway. We decided there’d be so many different ways to give back to the community. We show gay artists there. For gay performers, we have let this cabaret club go on for three and a half years. And you don’t make money when you let drag queens in on Tuesday night and 30 people drink at $10 a drink and you have to pay five people to watch over the place. You don’t make money … My only point is, this has not been a profitable venture. Gays are cheap. They’re frugal; gays are frugal. Let me retract that … gays are entitled … Do you know how challenging it is to make a penny off a gay person? I’m gay, I don’t pay cover. I’m gay, where’s my comp drink?[Everyone laughs.] No, I’m being serious! The Out NYC has not shown a profit yet.” – Ian Reisner, in a New York Magazine joint interview with Mati Weiderpass.
Oh keep digging, by all means!
In related news……..
Yesterday on the Facebook page of the NYC Council’s LGBT Caucus, they call for a continued boycott of OUT NYC, and all Reisner and Weiderpass properties.
STATEMENT – LGBT CAUCUS – NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL
“Owning businesses that cater to the LGBT community comes with a heightened level of responsibility. For the proprietors of the OUTnyc and Fire Island Pines, hosting anti-LGBT politicians like Senators Ted Cruz and Ron Johnson in their home – for whatever reason – was the height of irresponsibility. We hope that the events of the last week send a message to businesses that serve our community: you cannot make money from our community and support those who don’t support our basic civil rights.”
LGBT Caucus – Council Members Daniel Dromm (Queens), Corey Johnson (Manhattan), Carlos Menchaca (Brooklyn), Rosie Mendez (Manhattan), Ritchie Torres (Bronx), James Van Bramer (Queens)
From Tony Perkins, President of the Family Research Council hate group via email blast:
Dear XXXX,We can’t take for granted our freedom of religion; the freedom to believe and to live according to those beliefs. Given to us by God, and recognized by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, religious freedom is crucial to the life of our democracy. If the government punishes people for living their faith, there are no limits to what government can control.
If religious freedom falls in one state, it is endangered everywhere. Where states and leaders advance religious liberty, we need to encourage them to stand. Please read the following petition in support of Indiana Governor Mike Pence, and if you agree, please join me in signing it. Those who stand for freedom need others to stand with them.
Indiana Governor Mike Pence recently signed into law a Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) that protects people who live their daily lives according to their faith against government discrimination. This law reflects polling that shows 81% of Americans support the freedom to live out one’s beliefs. The Indiana law is like the federal RFRA that was signed by President Bill Clinton in 1993, and RFRAs in 19 other states.
Now, a leftist-driven movement has spread misinformation about the law, threatened boycotts and fomented false rhetoric in the media and online. Even in our day, the price of freedom is steep, and Governor Pence is standing strong for freedom despite the cost. Efforts are about to pressure Governor Pence to support changing or amending the law to weaken it. All Americans who live according to their religious beliefs should be free from fear of government punishment. I stand with Governor Pence in his support of religious freedom as stated in the Indiana RFRA, and urge him to oppose all efforts to change the law.
“The responses to the attacks on LGBT rights in Russia show that our lives are global and interconnected. Some responded to the attacks on LGBT rights in Russia by boycotting Stoli. It’s worth clarifying that SPI Group, which is in no way affiliated with the Russian government, has been the owner of the Stolichnaya brand outside of Russia since 1997. The Stolichnaya made in Russia for the local market is owned by a state-controlled entity. We feel it is important to raise our voice again and let the LGBT community know we share the same desire for justice and equality. And we are invested in achieving a brighter tomorrow for all. We are proud to be working with the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center to make our joint vision possible through the Leadership LAB, which empowers LGBT people to defeat prejudice locally, while developing leaders in LGBT communities in the U.S. and around the world. – SPI Group president John Esposito, in an Advocate op-ed announcing a $300,000 donation to the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center who of course accepted it.
Why donate to a Gay Center in California, a state where sexual minorities already enjoy equality? How about the lives of LGBT Russians who have been raped, tortured, beaten, terrorized, imprisoned, silenced, or murdered because of the Nuremberg style laws.
If they were sincere and not just looking for free USA publicity to fight the backlash, Stoli should be donating that money to a Russian LGBT group. And as for the L.A. LGBT Center. We know you need the money but isn’t your integrity and the lives of LGBT Russians worth more than 300k?
“Did you know that Starbucks was recently reported to be perceived as the most LGBT-friendly brand in the U.S.? JCPenney, Target, Apple and Amazon round out the top five. If you’ve been following the national marriage battle over the past 18 months this should come as no surprise. Starbucks has said that gay ‘marriage’ is one of its corporate values. Target and JC Penny both support gay ‘marriage’ and the homosexual lifestyle in general, as does Apple. We only vote at a ballot box once a year at most. But we vote with our wallets every day. That’s why NOM maintains its Corporate Fairness Project – which includes the Dump Starbucks, Dump General Mills, and Thank Chick-fil-A initiatives – to inform you of what companies are taking active stands in the marriage battle, and where your money is best spent in defense of this sacred institution.” – Brian Brownshirt, writing for NOM’s blog because he has nothing better to do to justify his half a million dollar a year hate salary.
Remember folks,when we want to boycott Chick-Fil-A or anti-gay Oregon bakeries we’re hetrofascist bigots.
Well if nothing else Brain Brownshirt’s idiotic rant proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that NOM is NOT about protecting “traditional marriage” but is rather just an anti-gay organization against the “homosexual lifestyle”
Despite the fact that Home Depots has tripled since the start of their boycott. Tim Wildmon, President of The American Family Association, has sent out an email to his insane faithful followers declaring victory in their long and useless boycott against the home repair giant for being LGBT inclusive and supportive.
“I’m glad to report to you that we are suspending the boycott of Home Depot. After monitoring the company for several months, AFA is satisfied the company has withdrawn its major financial contributions to gay activist groups and events. I truly believe this is a direct result of your willingness to become involved. In fact, more than 750,000 people signed the Boycott Home Depot Pledge. Although Home Depot has made changes, we will continue to monitor their behavior. We suspect Home Depot will publicly deny having made changes, but their actions speak louder than words. Your AFA will continue to challenge major U.S. companies to remain neutral in the culture wars rather than to use their resources to promote anti-family issues. Thank you for standing with us. Our efforts are making a difference!” – American Family Association president Tim Wildmon,
Zack Ford at Think Progress has a statement from Home Depot on Wildmon’s inaccurate claim:
“We haven’t made any changes to our policies for inclusion and respect of all people, regardless of their sexual orientation. We have not directed our associates to discontinue participation in Pride or other community events, and have no intention of doing so.”
Ah the American Family Association. I love the smell of desperation in the morning.
In case you missed it. Stolichnaya Vodka CEO Val Mendeleev wrote an open letter to the LGBT community yesterday in hopes of stopping a boycott of it’s product.
Luxembourg, July 25, 2013
An Open Letter from the CEO of Stolichnaya Vodka to the LGBT community.
The recent dreadful actions taken by the Russian Government limiting the rights of the LGBT community and the passionate reaction of the community have prompted me to write this letter to you.
I want to stress that Stoli firmly opposes such attitude and actions. Indeed, as a company that encourages transparency and fairness, we are upset and angry. Stolichnaya Vodka has always been, and continues to be, a fervent supporter and friend to the LGBT community. We also thank the community for having adopted Stoli as their vodka of preference.
In the US, the brand’s commitment to the LGBT community has been ongoing for years. Among the best examples, I can cite the series produced by Stoli in 2006 called Be Real: Stories from Queer America, which featured short documentaries on real life stories depicting the challenges and accomplishments of the LGBT community in the United States.
Stoli is very proud of its current exclusive national partnership with Gaycities.com and Queerty.com in search of the Most Original Stoli Guy. This is a fantastic program that started as a local initiative in Colorado and became a national platform. Previous national initiatives included serving as the official vodka of the Miami Gay Pride Week as well as ongoing events with focus on Pride month.
Some great examples from other parts of the world are the support to the Durban Gay Pride, in South Africa, the Pride Parade in Vienna, in cooperation with HOSI and CT, the largest LGBT communities in Austria and the Tel Aviv Pride Parade.
This letter also gives me the opportunity to clear some of the confusion surrounding the Stolichnaya brand, based on facts found online that often inaccurately link our company to the Russian Government. The Russian government has no ownership interest or control over the Stoli brand that is privately owned by SPI Group, headquartered in Luxembourg in the heart of Western Europe.
Stoli’s production process involves both Russia and Latvia. Stoli is made from Russian ingredients (wheat, rye and raw alcohol) blended with pure artesian well water at our historic distillery and bottling facility Latvijas Balzams in Riga, Latvia (formerly part of the Russian Empire and then of the Soviet Union). Latvijas Balzams did not recently become part of the Stoli heritage, but has been one of its main production and bottling facilities since 1948. This has allowed the brand to deliver the outstanding quality it is recognized for consistently across the years. What changed in the last years is politics, with Latvia becoming an independent state part of the EU.
We fully support and endorse your objectives to fight against prejudice in Russia. In the past decade, SPI has been actively advocating in favor of freedom, tolerance and openness in society, standing very passionately on the side of the LGBT community and will continue to support any effective initiative in that direction.
Val Mendeleev, Chief Executive Officer SPI Group
Today the LGBT organization Queer Nation responds via press release
A Statement From Queer Nation; Marketing Is Not Enough
Val Mendeleev, the chief executive officer of SPI Group, the owner of the Stolichnaya brand, confirmed in an open letter on July 25 that SPI produces this vodka in Russia and that SPI has offices and operations in Russia. Stolichnaya is a Russian vodka that is owned by a company that was founded in Russia in 1991.
On the same day that SPI released its open letter to the Advocate, we learned that Russian thugs, emboldened by Russia’s anti-gay law, have taken to gay web sites to lure gay people to supposed encounters where they are viciously beaten. This is just the latest in a series of violent attacks against LGBT Russians and foreign LGBT nationals in Russia.
This violence follows news reports of Russian police and prosecutors targeting LGBT people and groups in Russia for arrests and trials. At least two Russian LGBT groups have gone underground as a result.
In the open letter, Mr. Mendeleev cited a few LGBT events where SPI promoted its Stolichnaya brand as evidence of the company’s support for our community. Mr. Mendeleev, marketing will not save LGBT lives.
A single open letter that was discreetly placed with a single gay publication in the US will not help LGBT Russians nor will it have an impact on the Russian government’s anti-gay campaign. This and your refusal made in an earlier statement to confront the Russian government’s anti-gay bigotry make clear that you are not the fervent supporter and friend to the LGBT community you claim to be.
By its own admission, SPI Group operates in Russia and pays taxes to the Russian government. That money funds these continuing attacks on LGBT people and organizations in Russia. Queer Nation will continue its boycott of Stolichnaya and other Russian vodkas until this anti-gay law is repealed and the Russian government guarantees the safety of its LGBT citizens and foreign LGBT nationals in Russia.
We will not help you fund the Russian war on LGBT people.
To me it’s amazing that companies like Stolichnaya find it so hard to understand that people might not wish to fund their own persecution and that sponsoring a few American gay pride parade and giving money to Queerty and GayCitiesis not a “committment” to the community. It is marketing.
Every dollar that our enemies lose is a gain to our long-term success. And companies that want out money must have the integrity and commitment to do the right thing.
The people who dislike boycotts in our community on principle are nothing more than entitiled, lazy and jaded and expect others to do the work for them. In reality a well implemented boycott can have profound positive results.
Boycott Stoli and all Russian Vodka
Boycott Enders’ Game and OSC.
And think twice about how you spend your money abd who you support..
If Stoli doesn’t support the Russian government’s actions, they have an option — pull out of Russia. Otherwise, they are doing nothing more than aiding and abetting.
I am publicly calling on Queerty.com and GayCities to sever ties with Stolichnaya vodka. You cannot take their money while their commerce goes to Russia via its ingredients… and the businesses those ingredients are purchased through that are state owned by the Russian government.
Hearkening back to Harvey Milk’s led Coor’s boycott in the LGBT community in the 70’s, the boycott of Russian vodka over Russians anti-gay hate laws is picking up steam rapidly in the United States with Chicago’s famed Sidetrack club climbing on board removing Stolichnaya Vodka and all other Russian products from their shelves.
It Get’s Better creator Dan Savage, is now fully backing the boycott also and in his latest column for The Stranger writes:
“Seattle’s bars, gay and straight, must dump Stoli. Seattle’s drinkers, gay and straight, must dump Stoli. Some are arguing—based on Stoli’s outdated Wiki page—that Stoli isn’t a Russian vodka. ‘Presently the internationally distributed version of Stolichnaya is not a Russian vodka but is distilled and bottled in Latvia,’ Stoli’s Wiki page reads. ‘In 2009, William Grant & Sons signed an agreement to distribute Stolichnaya in the USA, taking over from PepsiCo.’ That’s old news. On January 1, 2014, Stoli becomes a Russian vodka again. The SPI Group—which will be distributing Stoli in the USA before the Olympic games begin this winter—is owned by Yuri Scheffler, one of the 100 richest men in Russia. Stoli is a Russian vodka.
“If you drink a Russian Vodka like Stoli, Russian Standard, or any of the other brands listed above, switch to another brand from another country, or even a local brand from a local distillery. Stoli is the iconic Russian Vodka and it’s returning to Russian ownership in 2014. Other brands like Russian Standard should also be boycotted. Do not drink Russian vodka. Do not buy Russian vodka. Ask your bartender at your favorite bar—gay or otherwise—to DUMP STOLI and DUMP RUSSIAN VODKA.”
It’s a good start… but what next….?
Hey maybe the LGBT community’s fierce ally President Barack Obama could finally call out the Russian government for it’s inhumane treatment of LGBT Russian citizens civil rights and finally break his deafening silence on the matter.