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Gay pride sticker sparks controversy at pizzeria

Daily News Editor
Published July 17, 2005

Correction: In ‘Gay pride sticker sparks controversy at pizzeria,’ (7/18/05) Pat Waters was misidentified for Timothy Wright.

Chelsea Trull
New York Pizza Depot on Williams Street has been the focus of a Catholic student group that is offended by the rainbow-colored gay pride sticker. (Mike Hulsebus/Daily)
Chelsea Trull
A closer view of the sticker on the front door. (Mike Hulsebus/Daily)

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Waters said Shirvell does not have any official status as a spokesman for the church, his views are not shared by the majority of the parish and that Waters said most of the people he spoke with were more upset with Shirvell’s posture than the gay pride sticker.

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Members of a local student-oriented Catholic parish received an e-mail last week urging them to boycott the New York Pizza Depot on East William Street because of a gay pride rainbow sicker on its front door.

The sticker has upset some people, including Andrew Shirvell, an NYPD customer and member of St. Mary’s Student Parish, located down the street from NYPD.

Shirvell, a University alumnus and former president of Students for Life, said the sticker is offensive because it endorses homosexuality instead of simply tolerating it.

“I find the rainbow flag offensive because it is a symbol of the homosexual movement that, in my opinion, indicates a validation of the homosexual lifestyle, as opposed to a sign that indicates ‘openness’ to customers who are of the homosexual orientation,” he said.

Jaya Kalra, a co-chair for Stonewall Democrats, said that it was very surprising that a parishioner reacted so strongly to the sticker, especially because she knows that St. Mary’s has been supportive in the past.

Kalra said that the flag represents diversity and that she is confused as to how Shirvell can be so upset — primarily because diversity is encouraged at this University .

“People have their own right to an opinion. But I have to wonder if the flag itself is what’s making him upset,” Kalra said. “I think it’s sad that they cut things down and cover things up that they don’t like without trying to understand what they mean.”

After Shirvell saw the sticker, he asked one of the owners why it was on the door. Shirvell said Maurice Grillo, one of the owners at NYPD, told him that an incident of some sort involving the gay community “forced his hand.”

Last week Shirvell sent an e-mail to members of St. Mary’s Student Social Justice Ministry, asking them to persuade Grillo to take the sticker down. Shirvell wrote in the e-mail that he may not eat at NYPD because it is “time to take a stand. Otherwise this type of intimidation of small business owners and their customers will never end.” Shirvell encouraged others to call or visit NYPD’s owners and ask them to remove the sticker.

Shirvell said he was led to believe that Grillo “had to put up the rainbow flag decal in order to appease the homosexuals who frequented NYPD on Friday nights” after leaving Necto nightclub on Liberty Street. Shirvell said Grillo told him he hoped the sticker would come down in a few weeks, but declined to give details about the alleged incident.

Grillo said in an interview that he was never pressured to hang the sticker on his door by anyone and that Shirvell may have misunderstood what he told him.

“It was just a decision,” Grillo said. “There was absolutely no pressure whatsoever. I just felt like it was the right thing to do. If we feel like taking it down — we will.”