Jackson Heights, NY – On Monday, September 12, 2022, New York City Council Member Shekar Krishnan (Dist. 25-Jackson Heights, Elmhurst), former-City Council Finance Chair and Queens Pride founder Danny Dromm, New York LGBT Network President Dr. David Kilmnick and fellow LGBT community leaders joined at a press conference to speak out against homophobic and discriminatory incidents against the Queens LGBT community. A new program called, Queens Hate Crime Victim Advocacy Initiative, was introduced by New York LGBT Network president & founder Dr. David Kilmnick which aims to stem hate crimes and anti-LGBT discrimination in the Borough.
As of June, it has been reported that hate crimes against the LGBT Community increased 46%. Community volunteers and participants in public programming on the Open Streets have been repeatedly subjected to vulgar homophobic slurs by members of the Jackson Heights Coops Alliance. Despite its designation as the birthplace of the Queens Pride Parade and a longtime “safe haven” for LGBTQ New Yorkers, Jackson Heights continues to see a steady rise in hate crimes against LGBTQ community members.
“Our LGBTQ Community Center nearby has received an average of three reported anti-LGBTQ hate crime reports per week,” said David Kilmnick, President & founder of the New York LGBT Network. “The harassment that Jim has endured on the Open Streets unfortunately represents a broader trend in Queens. That’s why we are launching a new Queens Hate Crime Victim Advocacy Initiative to support all victims of such hate across the borough. We are also calling out the Jackson Heights Coops Alliance to condemn this behavior that is not acceptable anywhere, especially not in the birthplace of the LGBTQ movement in Queens.”
Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr said, “I stand with Jackson Heights residents against homophobia and all forms of hate. The 34th Avenue Open Street is a real jewel in the Borough of Queens. It is home to so much incredible community programming. I am proud to have been an early and strong supporter of this dynamic space. That will not change. I will continue to work with Council Member Krishnan and all of our community partners to ensure that it remains a safe place for all who wish to use it.”
“Misinformation disseminated by this group has caused unnecessary strife in the community and directed hate towards our volunteers,” said Jim Burke, Co-founder of the 34th Avenue Open Streets Coalition. “Purported members of this group have used homophobic, xenophobic, and racist slurs against our volunteers and program participants, sometimes in the presence of children and community members.”
“Hate has no place in Jackson Heights, the birthplace of Queens Pride. I am appalled at the homophobic harassment that 34th Avenue volunteers like Jim Burke and many other have had to experience by members of the so-called Jackson Heights Coops Alliance,” said Shekar Krishnan, New York City Council Member for the 25th District. “I stand with them, the LGBT Network and longtime LGBTQIA activist and former Council Member Danny Dromm in condemning such bigotry. No matter how their members may feel about 34th Avenue, there is no excuse to engage in hate. Jackson Heights Coops Alliance must condemn its members’ actions now.”
“Jackson Heights is the home of Queens Pride, but we have also seen terrible violence against LGBT individuals in our community,” said Danny Dromm, Co-founder of Queens Pride and former New York City Council Member. “Julio Rivera was murdered by three white supremacists in 1990. Edgar Garzon was murdered by a white supremacist in 2001. We must call out and condemn homophobia wherever and whenever we see it. The Jackson Heights Coops Alliance is now on notice.”