Little Resolved at Emergency Meeting to Address Fire Island Pines Boycott


EDGE Media Network Contributor

Thursday May 7, 2015

As the weather warms and Memorial Day weekend approaches, a black cloud remains hovered over the summer resort community of Fire Island Pines.

The gay hotspot has been in an increasing state of social disarray since news broke that an event for 2016 GOP presidential hopeful Ted Cruz was hosted by gay Manhattan hotelier Ian Reisner. Reisner is one of the principal investors in the newly formed partnership OUTpost Pines LLC, which owns approximately 80 percent of the Fire Island Pines' business district.

As reported by Fire Island News, at an emergency meeting called by the board of the Fire Island Pines Property Owners Association (FIPPOA) last weekend, cries for boycotts of the properties were met with concerns that such actions could cause collateral damage to the community, seasonal employees and Reisner's OUTpost partner and longtime Pines business owner P.J. McAteer

To make matters worse, after publishing apologies that many believed to be insincere, on the eve of the emergency meeting, Reisner further fueled the boycott in a New York Magazine article where he was quoted as saying "gays are cheap" and "entitled."

"What would be the good of driving innocent people out of business?" asked FIP resident Alan Braderson at the FIPPOA meeting. "Think of the consequences of a boycott."

"This is not like boycotting Chick-fil-A, real people will get hurt," another resident said.

Also speaking out against the boycott was Nicole LaFountaine, owner of several Pines properties that are part of the 20 percent whose businesses are in danger of being unintentionally harmed by a ban on buying.

On the flip-side of the argument, there are 11,000 members of the Facebook page, "Boycott Fire Island Pines Establishments & Out NYC Hotel" and the LGBT Caucus on the New York City Council, who issued the following statement:

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.

Remaining seemingly caught in the middle of controversy is McAteer, who along with Reisner, purchased the commercial properties in January for $10.1 million -- less than half of the original asking price. While not present at the now infamous Cruz event, McAteer, the managing partner of OUTpost, has distanced himself from Reisner whom he refers to as an investor.

According to the Fire Island News, most of the speakers at the FIPPOA meeting spoke out in support of McAteer, whose Sip 'N Twirl nightclub and two restaurants are now operating under the OUTpost umbrella. While many cited his many past contributions to the community, McAteer remained silent at the meeting only saying that he would "help in any way."

While the FIPPOA meeting failed to come up with a resolution, the sentiments of many cognizant of the potential damage of a boycott yet resolute in removing Reisner from the Pines landscape, were summed up in a Facebook post by noted fashion journalist and longtime Pines resident Hal Rubenstein.

"Do I have the answer?" Rubenstein wrote. "I wish. But I do know that supporting a man who is duplicitous enough to welcome a man into his home who disregards not only my freedoms but of those I love and of those who I worked hard for a decade to raise money for to raise them up is not the way either. You can't go wrong if you act with your conscience. And unlike the man who has stained my island, most of us have one."