Several LGBTQ groups to boycott Adams’ Pride event

Eric Adams during his campaign for mayor last year.
Donna Aceto

Four LGBTQ political groups signed a joint statement announcing their plans to boycott Mayor Eric Adams’ Pride event on June 7 due to his administration’s anti-LGBTQ appointments, policing policies, and other issues pertaining to the queer community.

The Stonewall Democratic Club of New York City, which is a citywide queer political club, joined the Lambda Independent Democrats of Brooklyn, Lesbian and Gay Democratic Club of Queens, and Equality New York in a joint decision to avoid the mayor’s Pride reception at Gracie Mansion.

“Mayor Adams has tested the boundaries of the LGBTQ community to see where he can overstep — including who he can afford to disregard for the sake of his own interests,” the clubs said in the joint statement, which was issued on June 2. “Mayor Adams’ only interests are his own and prioritizing the needs of the policing and surveillance institutions in the city at the expense of investments into education, mental health, community health, and LGBTQ services.”

The Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, which was not included in the note, will also boycott the event, according to the New York Daily News. The statewide LGBTQ advocacy group New Pride Agenda also won’t attend.

“The NEW Pride Agenda had no intention of attending the Mayor’s Pride reception even prior to the letter by the political clubs being released,” the organization’s executive director, Elisa Crespo, told Gay City News. “We are not convinced that this administration is doing enough for our community. When there is a genuine effort on part of the mayor’s office to create policies that truly better the lives of LGBTQ+ New Yorkers, we will be ready to collaborate on those efforts together.”

In the public note, the clubs pointed to the administration’s controversial appointments of several religious leaders with anti-LGBTQ records, including former City Councilmember Fernando Cabrera, who is a senior advisor in the Office of Faith-Based and Community Partnerships, and Erick Salgado, who serves as an assistant commissioner in the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. Cabrera was known for anti-LGBTQ positions during his time as a city lawmaker — including when he took a trip to Uganda and praised that government while it was pushing homophobic policies — and he still runs a homophobic church that defines marriage as an “exclusive covenantal union of one man and one woman.” Salgado ran for mayor in 2013 and received the endorsement of the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage after he organized a rally against marriage equality in 2011. Gilford Monrose, who was hired by the mayor to lead the Office of Faith-Based and Community Partnerships, has criticized queer parents, equal marriage rights, and once said homosexuality “is a lifestyle” that he doesn’t agree with, according to the Jamaica Gleaner newspaper.

“Local LGBTQ leaders rallied outside City Hall in February and demanded his office rescind their appointments,” the clubs wrote in the joint letter. “He instead affirmed their roles in his administration.”

Among other complaints, the clubs criticized to the mayor’s support of the NYPD’s vice squad — which has long had a reputation for targeting LGBTQ people, people of color, and sex workers — and accused Adams of inviting “the same activists and leaders who rallied against him at City Hall in February,” which they say “demonstrates less an intent of goodwill and more of an effort to appease, however briefly, his interest in our community’s welfare while reinforcing the violent institutions that harm LGBTQ people every day.”

“We will not celebrate Pride with him,” the note states.

In the meantime, the four groups outlined a list of five demands for the mayor. First, they are insisting that Cabrera and Salgado should be fired, saying the two individuals’ “views on the LGBTQ community are dangerous and reflect a clear rift in trust between LGBTQ leaders and the Adams administration.”

Second, they are pushing the mayor to establish “clearer goals” for the administration’s plans to support the LGBTQ community in the city and redevelop the Unity Project, which is an educational and workforce development initiative for homeless LGBTQ youth.

The groups are also calling on the mayor to end raids on homeless individuals in the city, stop the revived effort to deploy plainclothes police officers, and “commit to ending the use of solitary confinement,” which has been a key LGBTQ issue dating back to the death of Layleen Polanco, a trans woman who died at Rikers after she was ignored by guards during a medical emergency.

A spokesperson for the mayor issued a lengthy statement in response to the note.

“Mayor Adams has a long history of standing with LGBTQ+ New Yorkers on the front lines of many of the community’s hardest fights and has included diverse perspectives in collaboratively building a City Hall team and agenda that reflect the voices of the community,” Fabien Levy, Adams’ press secretary, said in a written statement. “The mayor is thankful to have hosted many of these groups at City Hall and has personally sat down with them to hear their ideas about engaging New Yorkers across the city. We’re excited to have already taken action to support priorities of the community and look forward to making additional announcements during Pride and in the months ahead. Our team is committed to serving all New Yorkers equally and fairly, regardless of who they love or how they identify, and is excited to host a Pride celebration at Gracie Mansion next week.”