Thursday, February 21, 2013. New York City – According to a Facebook event, Father Richard Baker of The Catholic Church (St. Malachy’s Actors Chapel) of NYC and some of the parishioners were offended by a “Drag Show” and they say that they would not allow a “Drag Show” on 49th street.
In response to this, people of the LGBT community and friends are having a march from Times Square to the doors of St. Malachy’s Church.
Organizers of the “Drag Queen Protest” are inviting the public to “a public display of solidarity. A peaceful, colorful, and fierce” demonstration on Sunday, February 24, 2013.
They will meet at the TKTS stairs in Times Square at noon, and march to 49th Street between 8th Ave and Broadway.
Their press release says, “Drag performer Epiphany and event producer Michael Fratz created an event at Lillie’s Times Square located at 249 West 49th at the corner of 8th ave. The event is called “Breakfast at Epiphany’s”, an obvious reference to the iconic film with the performers name inserted. The event is/was planned to be a brunch advertised in local hotels and business catering to Times Square tourists, local residents, Lillie’s existing clientele, and to the greater LGBT community. The owners of Lillie’s Times Square are Mr. Thomas Burke, and Mr. Frank McCole, they’ve used Michael’s services in producing previous events and were excited about the new brunch with Epiphany. Posters and graphics were produced by the venue to hang for advertisement and posted onto the companies social media. The graphic was a modified photograph of Audrey Hepburn. That poster image and details are attached below. Lillie’s Times Square. All the plans were going smoothly for the first event scheduled for Sunday February 17th, until Friday the 15th at 4pm.
Father Richard Baker of St Malachys (Lillie’s neighbor, next door) came to Lillie’s asking for the general manager at approx 4pm on Friday the February 15th. He was visibly angry and upset about the posters that were hung. He insisted that he would not allow a “Drag Show” on 49th street. He stated to the General Manager, Shannon Noecker that “it isn’t appropriate for the community” and that he will “make sure” that the event doesn’t happen as planned. Ms. Noecker explained to Father Baker that the owners of Lillie’s approved of the event, and that it was not a “Drag Show” per se, but rather an event for the entire community with female impersonators performing cabaret acts. He insisted to Ms. Noecker that he would not be allowing this to go on next door to his church.
Subsequently, Mr. Fratz received multiple emails and calls from Father Baker and his parishioners. Namely Mr. John Roney, who questioned staff at Lillie’s and eventually received Michael’s personal email from a staff member and sent the email below to Mr. Fratz. Mr. Fratz has never met Mr. Roney. Email Subject: Live by the sword………
My name is John Roney and I have lived in this neighborhood for 30+ years, I attend mass at St Malachy’s Church. I was so glad when someone finally took over the restaurant space adjacent to the church and made it a viable establishment – even though it meant dodging puddles of vomit to attend Sunday morning mass. We are all as our creator made us.
Today, as I passed by 49th street I noticed the sign now posted to face the East that advertises your new Sunday brunch. I don’t know if you are intending to offend those dodging the puddles of puke your patrons leave for attendees of St Malachy’s but you have! The offering you now promote employs a play on words that mocks a Feast of special significance for us “church goers”. Why not just use Tiffany’s and face the West with your poster? The very nature of this affront is to exact confrontation. Why not try and come in to the very church you seek to offend and see – face to face – who you offend. Your Restaurant is new and I hope it runs for as long as you can count money but I will never speak a word in support it as long as you mock my Faith. ”
In an effort to get along with their neighbors, Mr. Burke and Mr. McCole decided to move the event across town to another venue they own, Papillon Bistro on East 54th Street, until the issue with Father Baker was resolved.
Mr. Burke and Mr. McCole have made it clear to Michael Fratz and Epiphany that they are welcome to produce “Breakfast at Epiphany’s” at Lillie’s Times Square if they wish moving forward. Mr. Burke and Mr. McCole insist that ALL patrons are welcome at Lillie’s Times Square and want everyone in the neighborhood to be part of the Lillie’s family. Mr. Burke and Mr. McCole are both Irish Catholic, they are well aware of the sensitivities of the Roman Catholic Church and it’s belief system. Mr. Burke and Mr. McCole stress their deep respect for the Catholic Church and wish that this matter could be easily resolved so that all parties are satisfied and that no discrimination takes place.
In response to Father Baker’s discriminatory Actions Epiphany has organized a March of Solidarity” from the TKTS stand in Times Square to the doors of St. Malachy’s Church at Noon on Sunday February 24th. This will be a peaceful protest with members of the LGBT community and their friends. After the protest everyone is invited by Epiphany to join her for brunch at Lillie’s next door. We believe father Baker overstepped his authority and threatened an innocent and family oriented brunch event that was never going to cause harm to anyone.