Cuomo Cozies Up to Homophobic Ex-Pol Ruben Diaz, Sr.

Former Governor Andrew Cuomo joined ex-lawmaker Ruben Diaz, Sr., on March 17 in the Bronx.
Adrian Childress

Exiled former Governor Andrew Cuomo is apparently willing to do just about anything to resurrect his image — even if it means embracing anti-LGBTQ Rev. Ruben Diaz, Sr.

Diaz, who recently left his City Council seat at the end of his term, welcomed the disgraced former governor to the Bronx on March 17 for a meeting with Hispanic Clergy, marking Cuomo’s latest public appearance since resigning in the face of sexual harassment allegations from nearly a dozen women. The Hill and Emerson College unveiled new polling this month showing Cuomo trailing Governor Kathy Hochul by just four points in a hypothetical primary race.

The event featured other faith leaders and another anti-gay former Bronx city lawmaker, Andy King, who was booted from his Bronx Council seat following a slew of allegations, including harassment and retaliation against former employees.

Cuomo used the event in part to complain about “cancel culture” — yet another example of his bid to rescue his reputation amid rumors that he is considering a run for his old job.

“Cancel culture says if you don’t agree with me and my point of view, then you should be canceled … anyone can be canceled,” he said. “Everyone is afraid of being canceled and the extremists refuse to have a reasonable conversation.”

In a written statement provided to Gay City News after this story was published, Cuomo spokesperson Rich Azzopardi said the former governor works with those who are not politically aligned with him.

“Obviously we don’t stand for intolerance of any kind, but what separates the public servants from the politicians is being able to work with people who we don’t always agree with,” Azzopardi said. “No one can credibly question this governor’s commitment to the LBGTQ community. Among many other measures, he’s the one who led the charge for and got marriage equality passed and he’s the one who banned conversion therapy and instituted GENDA by executive order until the legislature found the votes.”

The ex-governor drew praise from Diaz, who vowed not to run for re-election in the City Council after losing to out gay lawmaker Ritchie Torres in a crowded 2020 Democratic primary to replace retiring Congressmember José Serrano.

“We cannot deny the contributions that this family did for the Bronx …” Diaz said. “I also would like to publicly thank the former governor for what you have done for my brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.”

Diaz faced his own political isolation in 2019 after he said the “homosexual community” controlled the City Council. He drew further outrage when he repeatedly refused to back down from those comments, prompting his colleagues to strip him of his subcommittee on for-hire vehicles.

“What is wrong with what I said?” he asked during an interview with Gay City News at his district office in February of 2019. “That the gay community has power and control? Yes, they do!”

During that same interview, Diaz said, “I don’t believe in gay marriage, I don’t believe in abortion, I don’t believe in drinking, I don’t believe in smoking, and I don’t believe in dancing.”

Ruben Diaz, Sr., during an interview with Gay City News in February of 2019.Matt Tracy

During his time in the State Senate, Diaz famously organized rallies against marriage equality and served as a key voice against the marriage movement in New York. His decades of homophobia date back to at least 1994 when he asserted that the Gay Games “would lead to an increase in AIDS cases and to wider acceptance of homosexuality by young people.”

Following the event with Cuomo, Diaz jumped on Twitter and applauded the former governor.

“Two Democrats @revrubendiaz & @Andrew Cuomo with different religious beliefs but always working together for the betterment of our community, especially for the people of the Bronx,” Diaz wrote. “Go Andy Go!!”

The event brought stinging criticism from the Stonewall Democratic Club of New York City, a citywide LGBTQ political club, which called out Cuomo for joining Diaz and King.

“As the city gathers today to celebrate Irish and Irish American heritage, disgraced Andrew Cuomo runs into the arms of Reverend Ruben Diaz, Sr., in desperate search of a redemption tour,” the club said in a written statement. “The borough that birthed the founder of the #MeToo movement, Tarana Burke, now watches in horror as accused sexual aggressor Andrew Cuomo, charged sexual harasser Andy King, and notorious anti-LGBTQ preacher Ruben Diaz, Sr., stand side by side in desperate search of relevancy…”

The club continued: “It’s beyond sad to see Andrew Cuomo decimate his reputation further in hopes of regaining power; aligning himself with a man who spouts homophobic remarks and a convicted sexual harasser is not how to rebuild our faith in him.”