Some Members Quit as Stonewall Democrats Stand By Stringer

The Stonewall Democratic Club of New York City endorsed Scott Stringer last month.
Flickr/ City Comptroller Scott Stringer

Several members of the Stonewall Democratic Club of New York City quit in disgust after the club voted to uphold its endorsement of mayoral candidate Scott Stringer.

The club held an emergency vote on May 5 to ask members whether they wanted to pull the endorsement of Stringer in the face of sexual misconduct allegations. In order to rescind the endorsement, however, the club needed two-thirds of its members to agree — and that didn’t happen.

“It was a very close vote, with one vote making the difference, and I know that many are disappointed in the result,” the club, led by president Rose Christ, said in a written statement on May 6.

Brian Romero, who previously served as the club’s president, swiftly announced his departure from the club minutes after the club announced the results of the vote.

“I resign as Exec VP of @SDNYC,” Romero said in a tweet. “I began my activism in LGBT rights over 10 years ago for equity and justice. I believe survivors. I believe women. I won’t enable the upholding of white cispatriarchy which harms so many each day. Jean, myself, and others like us deserve better.”

Others who left the club included District Leader John Blasco of Manhattan, City Council candidate Chris Sosa, and attorney Alejandra Caraballo, who, along with Romero, are all backing the mayoral campaign of Dianne Morales.

“This decision is infuriating and it moves us back in the work that many have done for justice,” Blasco, who formerly served as City Council Speaker Corey Johnson’s LGBTQ liaison, wrote on Twitter. “Survivors have led us along the way time and time again. The stories of POC survivors are often not believed — especially by white men, including those who are gay. I sat in this virtual meeting and watched as some members wrote harmful rhetoric in the chat. But unfortunately I did not expect anything less than that. With that being said and this decision — I will be resigning as a member of Stonewall.”

In a phone interview with Gay City News, Caraballo voiced displeasure with what she has witnessed during her experience with Stonewall as well as with the Lambda Independent Democrats of Brooklyn (LID). She said she also recently left LID.

“I think part of it is just a general continued frustration with Stonewall, but prior to even this, I’ve been frustrated with political clubs like Lambda and Stonewall because they continue to be out of step with younger and more diverse members of the LGBTQ community,” said Caraballo, a former City Council candidate in Brooklyn’s District 35, which includes Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Crown Heights, Prospect Heights, and Bedford Stuyvesant. “They tend to be dominated by older gay white men who are wealthy.”

Caraballo cited an example of a longtime Stonewall board member who posted on social media defending Stringer and questioning Kim, who alleged that Stringer groped her two decades ago during his bid for public advocate.

Moreover, Caraballo said the clubs fail to reflect the diversity of the city’s LGBTQ community.

“There is something to be said about being a person of color, being a trans person in these political clubs, and always having to take the onus of making sure there is adequate representation and making sure people are listening,” she said.

Like Stonewall, LID is slated to hold a meeting at 7 p.m. on May 6 to discuss the fate of the club’s mayoral endorsement after Stringer narrowly edged out Morales in a nail-biter earlier this year.

Members will engage in a general discussion before holding a private vote. They will first decide whether to pull the Stringer endorsement, and if so, members will be asked if they want to issue an endorsement of a different candidate. If a majority of members agree to do that, they will then ask members which candidate to endorse.

“We believe this process to be the fairest way to ensure that our members’ voices are heard, and so that you can weigh in given these latest developments,” LID said in an April 29 tweet.