It goes without saying that The Mummers Parade is a tradition steeped deeply in Philadelphia's history, and deeply within the city's roots. The vibrant colors, creative themes and generational appeal always make it the best way to kick off the new year in Philadelphia. Sadly at this year's parade, the start of 2016 was marred by several participants in the parade, specifically in the Finnegan's Brigade. The Inclusion of both Bruce and Caitlyn Jenner in a way that many found "transphobic" (complete with a box of Fruit Loops cereal with Ms. Jenner's image appearing on it). Also, a man walking with the Finnegan's Brigade was seen on camera screaming "F**K The Gays" to a national audience, as well as to the local audience attending the parade.
The Finnegan's Brigade has been very silent and had offered little response on the events of the weekend, and apart from some back and forth on Twitter (they can be found at @FinneganNYB) they had said nothing publicly. I reached out to the morning after the parade and received the press release of sorts below (reprinted verbatim);
We are extremely upset and embarrassed by the video that has surfaced of the guy first not in costume with that t shirt and also saying " Fuck the Gays." We were unaware of this individual actually wearing that shirt at the time and also saying that. We have dealt with this individual in house and is further banned from our club. We understand and take full responsibility since we are Finnegan, but this deeply is sickening someone could say that. That's not who we are or ever were. We apologize to the many people out there from that Individuals actions.
As for the 2016 skit that was voted upon and only as a comedy routine. We understand that there will be obvious backlash for what we do as a skit but that's all it was is that. We are part of the comic division and that was our skit for 2016. We are sorry for offending people out there, and don't want people to think we are against the gays, transsexuals, etc. We are not.
We hope everyone has a happy new year.
Following receipt of this press release, I looked back on Philadelphia as a whole in terms of the LGBT community. Philadelphia has one of the largest LGBT communities around, and again this year, Philadelphia drag icon Brittany Lynn led The Mummers Parade parade with The Miss Fancy Brigade. The community is vibrant with every color in the crayon box being represented, and so many bars, shops and restaurants, making the area known as "the Gayborhood" a true representation of life in the big city today for an LGBT person. For me, I lived in this city, fell in love with in (and with) this city, and have a number of close friends that currently are residents. To me, this was personal.
Sadly, there are also occurrences that are less than positive for the Philadelphia LGBT community. The unsolved death of trans woman Nizah Morris and the trial of Kathryn Knott show that there is so much work to continue to do. Ironically, during the Mummers Parade this year, 28 year old John Holtz was attacked on Rodman St. near Broad and left with a black eye-by a Mummer, who punched him after calling him a gay slur
After some introspection and further research, I reached out to Finnegan's Brigage and let them know that the blanket press release I received was simply not enough. I heard back from Michael J. Inemer Sr., the Captain of Finnegan NYB.
While I have had to categorize his lengthy response. the entire transcript is copied verbatim. I have changed absolutely none of his intent or his words.
Why He Is Responding To Yesterday's Events
As Captain of the Finnegan's New Years Brigade I would like to 'clear the air' on a few incidents at yesterday's Mummers Parade. I would like to note that I do this, not at the direction or intervention of any City of Philadelphia, Mummers Parade, so called TV news stations or special interest groups. To the contrary NONE of the TV stations, media outlets, or our esteemed Mayor-elect called me personally to get our side of the story. I, on behalf of the proud members of Finnegan's NYB, want to step up and do the right thing without being 'told' to.
Should Finnegan's Brigade Apologize?
First of all, this NOT an apology for our skit "Going for the Gold" Anyone who knows a little bit about the Mummers Parade is aware that parody has been a major part of themes over the years. The pure definition of parody is 'an imitation of the style of a particular writer, artist, or genre with deliberate exaggeration for comic effect.'. Anyone in the history of this country, and the world, who wants to put their face and families on public display from politicians, athletes, movie stars to Popes are putting themselves right out there to be made fun of. And let's be honest, who does this more than the Kardashian "Klan" who air their private shenanigans on "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" every week!
Cross Dressing In This Skit "Going For The Gold" As Well As The Mummers Parade As A Whole...
Anyone who takes a close look at our skit would realize that the story of Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner is only a small, if prominent ,part of the skit. For those offended by the "cross-dressing" in the performance that was limited to four or five men dressed like nurses. If cross dressing is suddenly a problem and cause for ridicule our beloved Mummers Parade may have a shorter future than we would like. Cross-dressing has always been a part of the parade! In fact cross-dressing didn't start with us it goes all the way back to Shakespeare! Besides the characters in the Jenner skit, there were close to 300 marchers dressed in traditional wenches costumes. 95% of them were also (I guess) considered cross dressed. If one took the time to look closer, they would have noticed some of our 'wenches' were women and girls! One other thing: if our skit was so 'out of line' how come the parade judges themselves awarded us with 70 points and 14th place! No, thinking back on it all, I cannot apologize for the skit.
Thoughts On The Gentleman Walking With Finnegan's Brigade That Screamed Anti-Gay Slurs...
However, I find myself, as do many many members of Finnegan NYB, wholeheartedly apologizing for the abrasive, gross and disturbing action of one of our members who, unfortunately, took it upon himself to embarrass us all with his conduct and inexcusable and hurtful insults to the crowd toward the end of the parade. Myself and Finnegan's NYB do not condone his actions or share his opinons. Rest assured, he will be dealt with without any outside influence. He took it upon himself to put on a t-shirt that basically made him out of uniform from the rest of the brigade. He was in NO way expressing the sentiments of our proud club. However he was initially a part of our group and we must accept full responsibility for his actions and see it never happens again.
In closing, let me say Finnegan's New Years Brigade is made up of men and women who are hard working and good-hearted folks who are strong and proud members contributors to the surrounding Philadelphia community. They would not hurt anyone! Nevertheless, this whole episode seems to point out that folks need to lighten up and stop taking themselves so serious. As Payne Stewart says, 'If you can't laugh at yourself, then how can you laugh at anybody else? I think people see the human side of you when you do that.' HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!
I am sure that his comments and thoughts on this issue will keep this conversation going.
Feel free to contact myself @Cookster74 on Twitter or email@example.com. The Finnegan's New Year's Bridgade can be contacted at @FinneganNYB on Twitter or firstname.lastname@example.org