Jersey City Victim Faces Additional Attacks

In the early hours of October 28th Jersey City police walked into what was described as a ‘scene from a Halloween bloodbath movie.’ Hours before that Luis Rivera, 39, had an encounter with his roommate, Joseph DeLeo Jr., 28, that left him feeling uneasy. After Rivera returned to his room he was confronted by DeLeo who was wielding an 8-inch serrated knife.

Rivera says that he was pleading for his life, saying, “You’re going to kill me.” to which DeLeo responded, “You’re already dead you f-ggot.” When his third roommate walked out of his room he rushed to the aid of Rivera where he was subsequently attacked by DeLeo. Rivera stated that he pretended to be dead in an effort to save his life.

Rivera noted that DeLeo did admit to being homophobic which puzzled Rivera, who is openly gay.

DeLeo’s initial charge of aggravated assault was upgraded to attempted murder in addition to a count of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, numerous weapons counts and one drug count. His $35,000 cash or bond was increased to $500,000 by Hudson County Superior Court Judge Francis B. Schultz. This still seems like a drop in a bucket when compared to the injures sustained by Rivera. He was stabbed 28 times which resulted in lose of a kidney, spleen, a collapsed lung that left him on a ventilator for three days, minimal use of one leg and no use in the other due to severe nerve damage. Rivera will need to partake in intensive physical therapy in an effort to regain use of his legs.

Even after all of this he is now facing attacks from supporters of the alleged attacked, DeLeo. One such post, although not addressed to any specific person said, “…I KNOW WHERE YOU LIVE AND HAVE YOUR NAME [sic]…” It appears that this comment made reference to undesired phone calls after the poster publicly advertised their own phone number.

More anti-gay sentiments have been directed at Rivera. One of the comments, in the image below, was made by the mother of the alleged attacker. Please note that the ‘Like’ to the third comment was done by Ms. Loughner.

Statements like this are the last thing you would expect towards an innocent victim that was brutally attacked in his home.

Follow up responses by relatives of DeLeo did not share the sentiment of Ms. Loughner, thankfully.

You can only hope that in this day that people would understand that spewing hateful messages is impressionable and you may be unknowingly leading someone to think that they have the right to attack someone not only with words, but physically with no repercussions for their actions.

Sending DeLeo to prison will not magically make Rivera walk again nor will it bring back any of his organs, but what we can hope a just verdict will do is minimize attacks on someone simply on the basis that they are not what you would prefer them to be. People should not be lead to believe that this is acceptable or tolerable.

Can we stop the senseless and hateful attacks on our fellow human beings?

Marriage Equality In New York

Today started the first of what will be a new wave of marriage certificate applicants in New York state. Soon to be newlyweds lined up along Centre Street in lower Manhattan in the early hours of the morning in hopes of being among the first few of the 800+ couples that entered a lottery enabling them to marry today. Over 2000 couples registered for the lottery throughout the five boroughs. Throughout next week City Clerk’s offices will also be open for an extra two hours.

Among those lucky couples were Perin  Hurewitz and Harriet Kirk, who were married in Canada and can now legally get married in New York. They opted to forgo the tradition ceremony and have a civil ceremony following the receipt of their certificate. Throughout the area there were people of all faiths and races there to celebrate one thing, equality. You could feel the sense of unity in the air, not even the 90 degree temperature didn’t stop thousands of people from joining in the celebratory energy.

Another couple that recently celebrated their soon-to-be marriage with a joint bachelorette

party had their ceremony officiated by Rev. Pat Bumgardner, one of NYC Pride’s 2011 Grand Marshals. Lt. Dan Choi served as the Maid of Honor and unofficial ring bearer. The union of Jeanette Coleman and Kawane Harris brings them one step closer to the full equality that they both hope to eventually enjoy. Jeanette would like to re-enlist in the Army, but DOMA keeps her wish from coming to fruition.

Happy Marriage Equality!

Gay Today

I couldn’t think of a really catchy title but I also wanted to address quite a few things in my post, as I fight off the urge to reheat more of the pad thai I haphazardly made last night. Right after Halloween I had a friend share a blog posting about a little boy who wanted to dress up as Daphne for Halloween. I also received a Google Alert regarding an organization for gays in Morocco. Lastly I attended a conference for Pride organizers around the world, InterPride Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Long Beach, California.

At the AGM I met a bunch of people from around the world as well as saw what this organization was trying to do. Being there for the first time made me what to further my commitment to the global LGBT community. Although the community in the U.S. is not afforded full equality we still enjoy much more freedom than many others within our global community.  Hearing from individuals in Bulgaria and India about struggles they endure just to celebrate their diversity speaks volumes to me.  Another aspect was the lack of international involvement from groups in South America, Asia, and Africa. I want to help these people with their struggle somehow.

When I received the alert about the organization, Kif Kif, in Morocco that is working to organization for the equality of its LGBT countrymen that was like receiving a glimmer of hope that there is the potential that a religiously run country may potentially be accepting, in some manner, of things that may be in contrast to their beliefs.  I hope that their organization will have a lasting impact within Morocco, Africa, and the Muslim world as a whole.

So I’m not sure how much this story has been blasted but I must applause the mother who allowed her son to wear the costume of his choice. It’s similar to forcing a child into a field of study or sport that they do not enjoy. Isn’t that what being a parent is about, affording your child some freedom as long as it does not affect their wellbeing? I mean parents allow their children to be Jason and Freddy Kruger who are killers, how is that any better than letting a boy be the enthusiastic character known as Daphne (after he had already been Scooby).  Would it have been better if a daughter asked to be Spiderman or Scooby? What should be called into question is the way the mothers in the story reacted.

In all there have been strides made within the LGBT movement but there is so much more globally and locally that needs to be done to ensure the safety of over ever-growing diverse community. We don’t need to approve of everyone’s lifestyle but everyone should be able to live freely if it is not directly affecting others in a detrimental manner. If I don’t agree with polygamy that doesn’t mean others can’t practice it just as I may not agree with a vegan lifestyle but if someone chooses a specific dietary lifestyle that works for them then so be it.

“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

An Evening With Lt. Dan Choi

The festivities have begun as of June 19th and NYC Pride Week is upon us again. During this time many lgbt residents of and visitors to New York City take this time to remember how far the Gay Rights Movement has come, to think about how much more there is to fight for, to recognize the ability that the lgbt community has to publicly express themselves in ways that would have been considered unfathomable 40 years ago, and of course to celebrate with millions of others during this week of festivities commemorating the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion. This year Heritage of Pride is recognizing three individuals as Grand Marshals for the 2010 NYC Pride March. These honorees are Judy Shepard, Lt. Dan Choi, and Constance McMillen.

This past weekend Lt. Dan Choi gave a very powerful speech at the NYC Pride Rally which was held last Saturday at Central Park’s SummerStage. The crowd was brought to their feet by the United States Military Academy at West Point graduate. Since coming out on The Rachel Maddow Show in early 2009 he has faced discharge from the U.S. military for violating America’s Don’t Ask, Don’t

Lt. Dan Choi at Gracie Mansion

Tell (DADT) policy. Choi proves to be someone who will continue fighting the repeal of this policy until all soldiers are able to serve openly. Since DADT was enacted in 1993 there have been over 13,000 discharged servicemembers.

With all that is taking place during NYC Pride Week you tend to rub elbows with familiar faces. This was the case with Choi. After a few words at the Mayor’s BBQ at Gracie Mansion I made my way to a Barefoot Wine event hosted by Pandora Boxx, benefiting Heritage of Pride. As luck would have it I ran into Choi at this event as well. We stopped by a local 7-11 where we sat on milk crates in front of the store as we chatted for a few.

During the course of the evening I learned so much about a man that started a

Lt. Dan Choi in front of Kenneth Cole

journey not knowing what the future would hold and now has the support of hundreds of thousands of American’s that would like to see the same end goal as Choi is seeking, the equality of our service men and women. He showed his true colors, and is someone who would like to be treated just as equally as the next person and does not want to be placed on a pedestal.  I can say he has a keen memory and will very likely remember your name, even though he meets a plethora of people in a day.

Lt. Dan Choi is a man who I am honored to have interacted with on multiple occasions and continues to be a role model for many and someone that has made many sacrifices in order to deliver his message wherever it takes him.

NYC Pride Presents Major Changes for 2010

Annually following the June 1969 Stonewall Rebellion members of the LGBT community and their allies have come together in NYC together to express themselves in a number of forms. Since 1984 Heritage of Pride (HOP) has been the organizer for the official NYC Pride events. 

On June 19th the NYC Pride Rally, where Pride starts, will welcome its guests to Central Park’s Rumsey Playfield where it will make its debut as part of SummerStage’s 2010 scheduled events. This year’s committee has planned an amazing line up to go along with its new home.

This year’s co-hosts are comedians, Bruce Vilanch and Vickie Shaw. Performers include Martha Wash, Meshell Ndegeocello, the Cast of Hair, the NYC Gay Men’s Chorus, Ian Harvie, and many more. Speakers include Lt. Dan Choi, Catherine Marino-Thomas, and Kevin Frost. To catch these talented and exception people be sure to get to SummerStage early, doors open at 3:00pm and the show runs from 4:00-8:00pm. To get to Rumsey Playfield enter Central Park on 5th Avenue at 69th or 72nd St, it’s between the two entrances . This is a free event so there’s no reason to miss it!

For women looking for something to do during “Pride Weekend” (the weekend of the March, Pier Dances, and PrideFest) be sure to check out the 7th Annual Rapture on the River, Women’s Dance. The dance is held on Pier 54, where 13th St. and the West Side Highway meet. On June 26th from 6:00-11:00pm Susan Morabito (NYC) will keep the party going. Don’t regret not attending one of the best women’s parties in the U.S. Tickets can be purchased in the HOP office (154 Christopher St. #1D, NY, NY 10014) or at BoxOfficeTickets. Get ’em quick to save yourself a few bucks for drinks, advanced tickets are $25 and day of tickets will run you $35. A limited number of VIP Combo tickets are available for $45 (these include one free drink ticket, access to the VIP Lounge at Rapture, and admission to Pier Pressure 11, the official Rapture after-party).

So you’ve made it to June 27th and you are ready to hit the town. The first event to start this busy day is PrideFest, allowing guests to enjoy the street festival and StageFest (performance stage) from 11:00-7:00pm. PrideFest in held on Hudson St. between Abingdon Sq. & West 14th St. This year PrideFest will be adding a PetPride competition to its activities for the day. Emcees for StageFest are Hedda Lettuce, Vanessa Valtre, and Kiara Monteiro. Check out the stage as you stroll through the festival to catch Antigone Rising, London Bridgez, Justin Utley, Switch N’ Play, and others. This is a free event, but be sure to bring some spending money for food and souvenirs from the vendors.

If it’s Noon on Sunday June 27th you definitely want to be somewhere along the march (commonly referred to as a “Parade”) route to join over a million other spectators for the start of one of the Largest Gay Pride marches in the world.  The NYC Pride March was affected by the City’s shortening of all marches and parades. This means the march route has been shortened and Step-off is has changed to 36th St and 5th. The 2010 Grand Marshals are Lt. Dan Choi, Judy Shepard, and Constance McMillen. Another change is the addition to a second moment of silence. In the past there has been a moment (minute) of silence at 2:00pm to remember those lost to AIDS. This year there will be TWO moments of silence, one at 1:00pm and a second moment of silence at 3:00pm.

Check the march out early, get your 2010 Pride T-shirt at PrideFest and then head over to the Pier Dance. The dance is held on Pier 54, where 13th St. and the West Side Highway meet.The 24th Annual Pier Dance is guaranteed to be a celebration to startyour night off right. The party starts at 4:30pm with DJ Steven Oliveri and continues with the Freemasons (Loaded UK). The festivities draw to a close with a firework show at 10:30pm. Tickets are available now. You can get yours for $50 until May 31st when they go up to $75, and if you’re the last minute type you will end up shelling out $100 at the door. A VIP pass will cost you $150. You can get your tickets at  BoxOfficeTickets, the HOP office or select retailers around Manhattan.

A lot has changed, but change is good. The things to remember:

  • The Rally is hosted on a Saturday (6/19) at Central Park’s SummerStage from 4:00-8:00pm
  • PrideFest has added PetPride to their activities for the day
  • The March will Step-off at 36th St & 5th Ave
  • The March route is changing (see above)
  • The March will have two moments of silence (1:00 & 3:00pm)

Pride is only 25 days away so get your rest now and if you have any questions or looking to get involved you should contact the folks over at HOP. Pride Guides will be hitting the streets of NYC and the HOP office in the coming days so make sure you get your copy.

Happy Pride!