Fire Island Boycotters Call It Quits on Facebook

After 112 days, the Boycott Fire Island Pines Establishments & Out NYC Facebook page is officially calling it quits.

The steering committee representing the group of online activists announced Thursday that they were closing up virtual shop. They started the boycott against the monopoly of restaurants and bars in Fire Island Pines over news of an ersatz fund raising event for anti-gay 2016 GOP presidential hopeful Sen. Ted Cruz held at the Manhattan home of the commercial properties' new landlord Ian Reisner and his partner Mati Weiderpass (who officially has no stake in the Pines businesses).

The Facebook page is set to go inactive on August 20.

"We feel at this point in time that nothing further needs to be addressed as we have presented all the facts recently insofar as all the developments that have lead us here," reads the 1149 word final statement in part.

"We are not closing it because we feel defeated or because we've grown tired of trying to make some sense of all these situations." the statement concluded. "We are simply closing it because there is no further necessity for us to continue the dialogue about Messrs. Reisner and Weiderpass. The choice of how NYC and the Pines decide on how to deal with them is now theirs alone. We feel we've done our job."

During the life of the boycott page, it gained the support of LGBT activist groups ACT UP and Queer Nation and even received an endorsement from noted gay author Armistead Maupin (who admitted he had never been to Fire Island). The page garnered over 11,000 likes - an inordinate amount considering that the seasonal population of Fire Island Pines is estimated between 2,500 and 3,000.

Early in the game, the group quickly came under fire for its original lack of transparency in leadership which lead to innuendos that the group was somehow a front being run by Jeff McGovern, a manager under one of the properties' previous owners Eric Von Kuersteiner who is rumored to have offered to buy Reisner's share in the properties for an undisclosed figure. This was categorically denied online.

"This page was not created by Jeff McGovern and is in no way part of an effort to support Eric Von Kuersteiner," a post on the boycott page read on June 11. A steering committee whose membership was made public took over control of the Facebook group and organized several weeks of house-to-house flyer distribution encouraging residents not frequent Reisner's properties.

"We hope this page continues to serve as a conduit of information for interested parties and that the members will not use it as a forum for attacking others within the Fire Island Pines community," the June 11 statement continued. "The Committee is focused on one goal: defending LGBT rights and stopping the flow of LGBT community dollars into the war chests of anti-LGBT politicians."

While the steering committee was able to capture the zealotry of the group's followers, it became impotent at harnessing the mob mentality that eventually took over the tone of the page. Some of the vitriol included the regular defamation of Reisner's Fire Island partner PJ McAteer (who was not present at the Cruz event) and the frequent calling out of Fire Island Pines Property Owners Association (FIPPOA) members for accepting a donation from Reisner to their political action committee as a mea culpa for his political indiscretion. In one instance, a DJ who was quoted in an article describing the boycott group as "slacktivists" had his livelihood threatened online by members who suggested that he was playing unlicensed music.

"The boycott, whether you were in support of it or against it, was a moment in our history to hold two gay men accountable for their actions," the group's final statement read Thursday. "The rest now is up to each of you. It always has been. Personal choices are difficult, especially when they are not popular, but each of us must do what we feel is right for ourselves and the beliefs we hold strongly in our hearts."


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