We Want New York City to Remain Open, Welcoming, and Affirming

Dr. Wilhelmina Perry
Equality NY

Dear Editor: I am an 87-year-old African-American lesbian who identifies as a person of faith. This is why I strongly object to the actions by Mayor Adams to appoint two clergy who are openly hostile to the LGBTQIA+ community. Both Pastor Fernando Cabrera and Pastor Erick Salgado have taken public positions that are harmful to the well-being of our community. I speak of their objections to same-gender marriage that provides both societal support and legal protections for the families of the LGBTQIA+ community. Cabrera has also taken public positions with regard to the “Kill the Gays” bill that created fear and terror in the lives of gay people throughout Africa. I know this as I have demonstrated with the communities from Uganda. This bill has become the template for bills of terror and hate used by legislature around the world.

Pastors Cabrera and Salgado’s lack of regard for the well-being of our community speaks to their lack of fairness and justice for all citizens. Furthermore, their behavior negates the basic religious principle that we are all made in the image of God.

As an African-American lesbian of senior years, I have witnessed the backlash encouraged and supported by clergy who would lend their names to the most harmful public policy positions. I am fearful and concerned that these appointments would lend public sanction and further enforce a gay backlash that is being seen across the country. While Pastor Cabrera and Salgado may be renowned clergy in their respective communities, I do not believe that their voices and values should be part of this Mayor’s administration and thereby, influencing his policies. Our City is well known for its just and progressive welcome to all people. With these appointments, many years of progress will be wiped out and the welcoming reputation of our City will be severely damaged.

Dr. Wilhelmina Perry is founder emeritus of LGBT Faith Leaders of African Descent and serves on the advisory board of Equality New York