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Robert Emmett O’Reilly is known worldwide for his distinctive rainbow suit and umbrella. And he came face to face with himself on the rooftop of the brand-new Hell’s Kitchen Boxers location this PRIDE.
O’Reilly, who regularly attends New York’s PRIDE weekend, is one of the parade’s most recognizable unofficial mascots, happily posing with supporters throughout the route. His appearance in a 2019 photo of the march has been widely used in advertising campaigns, articles and even an anti-Donald Trump meme.
He closed out this year’s PRIDE weekend by making a celebrity appearance at Boxers on 9th Avenue, creating a meta mural man moment by greeting patrons at the bar. “Any time I walked in the room and got on the dance floor, the crowd went crazy,” said O’Reilly.
Now based out of California, O’Reilly grew up on Long Island. After a West Coast transfer and an illustrious 30-plus year career in beverage manufacturing, “I graduated from that stage of my life” and took off to travel the world.
It was through his travels and a bit of New York six-degrees-of-separation that he heard about his place on the Boxers mural. Drag artist and friend Sutton Lee Seymour (who regularly performs at Boxers’ sister bar, Hush) saw the mural on their way to a performance and alerted O’Reilly, who posted it to his own channels. “I then had two other mutual friends reach out and connect me with the owners of Boxers. Before I knew it, I was meeting Rob and Rob over dinner,” said O’Reilly.
After happily visiting his permanent tribute, he does have one question. “I’m not sure who the other gentleman in the mural is,” said O’Reilly. “I don’t know if it’s someone that they grabbed from another photo.” (Leather harness man, if you’re reading this, reach out!).
Having thoroughly exhausted his rainbow suit for now, O’Reilly was looking forward to spending the rest of his time in New York visiting family and friends, hitting up his favorite bars around Hell’s Kitchen and Chelsea and checking out as many Broadway shows as possible. “I see everything — I’ll go right to TKTS in the morning, see a matinee and a night show,” he said. And if you stop by the open mic nights at Don’t Tell Mama’s, you may even see him belting out a special rendition of Cabaret: “I’m a bit of a singing queen.”
“I try to take in the moment,” said O’Reilly, who doesn’t take being able to attend PRIDE for granted. “I feel so fortunate to be here — I represent the 300,000 gay men of my generation who are gone, and try to show others that you should be able to be out, loud and proud — and love is love,” said O’Reilly.
Will he be back for future New York PRIDE month parties in his rainbow suit? O’Reilly thinks the outfit has a bit more life left in it yet: “It’s been all over the world. It’s a great little polyester thing, you can wash it and dry it in a snap,” he said.