A Bronx Tall Tale

August 14, 2018

To the Editor:

Who the heck is Allen Roskoff, a Manhattan resident, who has never lived in the Bronx, never worked in the Bronx, and who does not come up to our Bronx LGBT events, to tell us what to think about our Bronx elected officials? (“LGBTQ Rights in the Bronx — Then and Now,” Aug. 2) He does not speak for us and he is quite off in his assessment of the Bronx borough president.

Like so many other elected officials, Ruben Diaz, Jr., has evolved and become a vocal and unequivocal supporter of marriage equality, for many years now. He has attended same-sex weddings (including serving as the witness at one!) and has a large number of out LGBT staff, including his chief of staff since his first day in the Assembly — almost 23 years of partnership, longer than most relationships. While an assemblymember, Ruben was the author and lead sponsor of legislation that would prohibit defendants from using the Gay Panic Defense, and, working with his out lesbian niece, Ruben fought for the overturn of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

As borough president, Ruben has actively recruited and appointed LGBT members to Bronx community boards, including the first transgender board members on three separate boards. He has appointed LGBT members to all of the Health and Hospital Corporation community advisory boards in the Bronx. He has funded a wide array of LGBT organizations with capital funding and fought to secure additional funding for many others including but not limited to the first LGBT senior housing to be built by SAGE, in Crotona Park, and the Callen-Lorde Health Center on Third Avenue. He has been an active and vocal supporter of Destination Tomorrow. This January, Ruben hosted the Bronx LGBT Career Fair at Hostos Community College, and this June he had the Pride Flag raised above Borough Hall.

Ruben was a leading voice condemning Councilmember Cabrera for the Uganda video, something Roskoff conveniently forgets or omits, and backed State Senator Gustavo Rivera in both of the races between him and Cabrera. Ruben was one of the two most important endorsements in securing the election of Councilmember Ritchie Torres, alongside former Councilmember Jimmy Vacca, who has also been attacked frequently by Roskoff. The borough president hosts one of the largest LGBT Pride celebrations in the city each June and has an active LGBT Policy Task Force, which ensures LGBT issues are inserted into all discussions in his office.

Those of us who live in the Bronx know the truth and know a hit-piece when we see it.

Kenny Agosto, Clarisa Alayeto, Sean Coleman, Fabio and Hector Cotza, Justin Westbrook-Lowery, Audrey DeJesus, Lewis Goldstein, Michael Ivory, Francisco Lazala, Louise Marchena, Blaise McNair, Maria Provenzano

Allen Roskoff responds: I stand by everything in my column. The Bronx leadership supports homophobes and anti-choice elected officials and is morally bankrupt. I lived in the Bronx for 14 years, oversaw all social service contracts there while executive staff member to former New York City Comptroller Harrison J. Golden. I was involved with economic development in the Bronx when I served as assistant vice president of the New York State Economic Development Corporation under Governor Mario Cuomo and held monthly meetings in Co-op City while serving for eight years on Public Advocate Mark Green’s community affairs unit.