Annual Event Celebrates Accomplishments and Contributions of New York City’s LGBT Community
New York, NY—New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, the Council’s LGBT Caucus and the City Council held their annual LGBT Pride Celebration today. The event, held in City Council Chambers, honors the achievements and ongoing struggles of the LGBT community. The event featured actor George Takei, who served as master of ceremonies, as well as various honorees who exemplify the achievements of the community.
“As we begin another pride month this June, New York City once again recognizes the contributions of the LGBT community in our city and across the country,” said Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “During this time of year, we celebrate the great strides we’ve made, but also must remain focused on all the work that still lies ahead of us. In New York City and all over the United States, advocates and allies of the LGBT community will continue to push forward toward equality and fairness for all.”
Sharon Stapel is the Executive Director of the New York City Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project, the country’s largest organization dedicated to ending intimate partner, sexual, hate and institutional violence affecting LGBTQ and HIV-affected communities. Sharon is a national expert on LGBTQ and violence issues and has worked various public policy issues including VAWA, the use of condoms as evidence of sex offenses, police profiling, access to domestic violence shelters and access to civil orders of protection. Sharon is married to Sarah Mathison with whom she has a child, Finch.
Joselyn Mendoza is an undocumented transgender woman from Queens, New York who has organized and led the largest immigrant youth-led movement to fight for trans-liberation. Joselyn began organizing after facing employment discrimination due to her gender identity. She started organizing with Make the Road New York to push for GENDA legislation that would include gender identity and expression in employment protections. She has since become a National Leader for the Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project, a program of United We Dream, where she lead the recent #WeCantWait campaign that resulted in President Obama acting to protect nearly 5 million undocumented immigrant families.
Andy Humm has been a host of Gay USA since 1985, co-hosting the show with veteran journalist and activist Ann Northrop since 1996. As a reporter for Gay USA, Andy has covered virtually every major LGBT and AIDS news story in the last two decades, and has interviewed U.S. presidential candidates, acclaimed human rights activists, and more, all while writing regularly for the gay press. From 1986 to 1995, Andy was Director of Education at the Hetrick-Martin Institute for Lesbian and Gay Youth doing pioneering work in the education of young people and youth service providers on issues of sexual orientation as well as AIDS and adolescents. Andy was part of the team that guided New York’s gay and lesbian rights law through the City Council. He served as a City Human Rights Commissioner from 1991 through 1993.
Zully Rolan is the Director of Asset & Property Management for Fifth Avenue Committee, a nationally recognized, South Brooklyn based nonprofit community development corporation formed in 1978. Fifth Avenue Committee works to transform the lives of over 5,000 low and moderate income New Yorkers annually so that they can all live and work with dignity and respect while making the community more equitable, sustainable, inclusive and just. For seven years Zully served as Chair of Brooklyn Pride Inc.
Kim Watson is the co-founder of Community Kinship Life, known as CKLife, which assists affirmed men and women with necessary life skills, medical needs, counseling, and access to the resources needed to improve their quality of life and ability to contribute to society. CKLife provides a safe, secure space for affirmed people to meet and learn about life inside and outside of transition. CKLife also sponsors a benefit to raise funds for the CKLife scholarship fund, which has helped many affirmed people with paying for necessary transition-related procedures. People across the United States and the world have benefited greatly from the selfless acts of Kim Watson and the CKLife organization.
Kevin Finnegan is the Political Director for 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, the largest and fastest growing healthcare union in the country, which represents over 400,000 healthcare workers. Finnegan is responsible for managing all of the major legislative and electoral efforts of the union. He has advocated extensively for living wages, benefits and a union voice for homecare workers and other low-wage workers. Kevin began his career in electoral politics as a volunteer for a progressive organization in San Francisco working to elect Harvey Milk and George Moscone. He has remained committed to and active in LGBT community movements throughout his entire life. Kevin was President of the Gay and Lesbian Independent Democrats, served as an adviser to the PAC board of the Empire State Pride Agenda for many years and worked closely with Governor Cuomo to pass same sex marriage legislation in New York
Hetrick-Martin Institute’s Health and Wellness Programs and Internships
The youth being honored represent the variety of health and wellness programs and internships at the Hetrick-Martin Institute (HMI) that engage youth in healthy models of care through community outreach, sex positivity and reproductive health workshops, HIV/STD awareness and early detection efforts. These young people dedicate hours of their daily schedules to create and implement peer education strategies that allow them to be leaders and educators within their communities. In these roles, these young people focus on the health and wellbeing concerns and needs of their communities while taking control of their own health. Through HMI internships, these young people assist staff with identifying, educating, screening and navigating youth who are at high risk for health disparities, linking them to appropriate services and community providers for medical care. Their work with young people occurs both at HMI’s program site and across the five boroughs.
Best known for playing Sulu on the original Star Trek television series and in the six feature films that followed, George Takei is an unlikely social media icon. Unofficially dubbed the King of Facebook, he counts over 8.6 million fans in his online empire. An outspoken advocate for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights, Takei has used his unmistakable baritone in several satirical PSAs, including one in response to Tennessee’s infamous “Don’t Say Gay” bill that encourages viewers to say, “It’s OK to be Takei.” His current projects include the musical “Allegiance,” drawn from his experience of growing up in Japanese American internment camps during World War II, the recently published “Oh Myyy! There Goes the Internet” and “Lions and Tigers and Bears: The Internet Strikes Back.”
“Andy Humm’s contributions to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender history are phenomenal,” said Council Education Committee Chairperson Daniel Dromm. “Andy’s work over the last four decades laid the foundation for all the rights we possess today. From his work in Dignity/NY to his leadership on the Coalition for Lesbian and Gay Rights to his distinguished career as a journalist, Andy has made history. I am so pleased to call Andy my friend and honor his work in this way. Every gay person owes Andy Humm a debt of gratitude.”
“This time of year is of celebration of our character and our work. In the last year, LGBTQ people in New York City–and beyond–have continued to push for greater equity before the law, and in society at large. This Council has remained attentive to the specific needs of our community as we shape legislation and build bridges in our local communities. I am hopeful that Pride Season 2015 will further invigorate our resolve to be openly proud of who we are, never forgetting the work that remains ahead. I am proud to stand alongside my colleagues in the LGBT Caucus, and with Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, all of who have been fearless and unapologetic advocates for a world that is more just,” said Council Member Carlos Menchaca.
“The New York City Council will be holding its annual LGBT Pride event and this year our event is returning to NYC Council Chambers. This year I am honored to present a proclamation to Zully Rolan, former Chairperson of Brooklyn Pride Inc. I am proud of Zully’s accomplishments and her contributions to the LGBT Community,” said Councilwoman Rosie Mendez.
“This year’s honorees are at the forefront of promoting equality in New York City and across the country and are a true inspiration to us all,” said Council Member Ritchie Torres of the Bronx. “I am especially proud to recognize Kim Watson, whose unwavering dedication to her community and soulful vision of care and support has improved the quality of life for so many Trans New Yorkers.”
“Each year the Council is dedicated to highlighting the great strides the LGBT movement continues to make by highlighting the extraordinary achievements of prominent leaders in our community,” said Council Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer. “I am proud to join Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, the LGBT Caucus and my Council colleagues in honoring the accomplishments of all of our honorees, including Sharon Staple, Executive Director of the New York City Anti-Violence Project, who everyday dedicate their lives toward making our City and nation more just and equitable for our LGBT brothers and sisters.”