LGBTQ Pride 2020
June 16th, 2020 — It’s been 50 years since the Stonewall Riots began in NYC’s Greenwich Village sparking a modern LGBTQ revolution across the United States. The crux of these riots was in response to a police raid that became violent as they were called in to crack down on the LGBTQ community in the area. 50 years later we see the world reacting to police brutality and creating a new movement that includes the voices of black LGBTQ lives now.
Unfortunately, where much has changed, much has remained the same. In the last two weeks, three black trans women, Layleen Polanco, Riah Milton, and Dominique “Rem’Mie” Fells were killed. In 2020, at least 14 transgender people have been violently killed. On June 15, the Supreme Court stepped in to protect gay and transgender employees from discrimination. These protections were fought for in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibits discrimination based on sex. This decision is a huge victory for LGBTQ equality and represents the progressive direction our country is heading. Yet, there is still more work to do.
The LGBTQ community holds a special place in my heart. I started out as a caseworker in the 90s, working on HIV/AIDS cases and helping our LGBTQ residents who had been exiled from the community. It built the nexus of my mission in life, to help, to protect, and to serve our most vulnerable populations. When I became a CEO, I served as a national champion with the YMCA on LGBTQIA issues. I’ve had the pleasure of working with AIDS-related community services like the Hetrick Martin Institute, The Door, GMHC, GLSEN, PFLAG, and WCJS-Center Lane who have advocated for the rights of our LGBTQ community.
Here in Mount Vernon, we are a melting pot of ethnicities, nationalities, and people of all backgrounds. As Mayor, I look forward to highlighting and supporting our LGBTQ youth and pushing for services for those who may deal with health, housing, and mental issues. As a city, I want you to know that we are a resource for our LGBTQ community. As James Baldwin once stated:
“Somebody, your father or mine, should have told us that not many people have ever died of love. But multitudes have perished and are perishing every hour — and in the oddest places! — for the lack of it.”
I wish you all a happy LGBTQ Pride month. We are all in this together.