2011-06-15 / Front Page

Van Bramer Holds District’s First LGBT Luncheon

By Thomas Cogan

Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Woodside, Sunnyside, Long Island City, Astoria and Maspeth), opened the 26th District’s first luncheon celebrating Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transsexual Pride Month at the Riverside Restaurant in Hunters Point on Sunday, June 12, calling himself “your openly gay councilman”, to wild applause. He introduced several other politicians and the Gay-Straight Alliance of William Cullen Bryant H.S.  Several politicians recalled the attitude toward LGBT issues years ago and how far things have come since then, though noting that the latest vote in Albany next week on the marriage equality bill is no sure thing.
After City Comptroller John Liu was introduced, Assemblymember Cathy Nolan said that gay persons in Queens were once forced by circumstances to feel isolated, an observation backed up by Van Bramer’s recollection of his reaction to a classmate at Bryant H.S. that  he believed was gay and whom he avoided, lest the two of them be exposed as gay, not a welcome situation in the 1980s.  When Van Bramer was in high school, Nolan, then a freshman in the Assembly, voted for a bill to prevent landlords from evicting tenants who were gay.  She said she and the late Saul Weprin were probably the only assemblymembers from Queens to vote for the bill.  Now, she feels so confident of the marriage equality bill’s ultimate triumph that she said she could bear the disappointment and continue to work for it if it failed to pass in both houses of the state legislature this year.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn addressed the 150 or so luncheon attendees  by mobile telephone from City Hall.  Councilmember Danny Dromm (D-25th District), introduced as the other openly gay member from Queens, spoke of the resistance the first gay pride parade in Jackson Heights had to overcome in 1992. Who at that time would have believed that within 20 years there would be two members of the council delegation from Queens who were openly gay, he mused, pleased. 
Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer said Van Bramer “is all over this city” with his legislative and civic activities.  Stringer recounted getting married last September in Connecticut. He and the woman he married showed their support of the marriage equality act by agreeing that their wedding should be in a state that already recognizes marriage equality.
Sammy Radovic, a senior at Bryant H. S. and head of the school’s Gay-Straight Alliance, introduced a troupe of fellow students who performed a dance based on an inclusionary theme, the music for which was ABBA’s “Dancing Queen” and Aretha Franklin’s “Respect”.  Van Bramer said that the LGBT luncheon is to be an annual event.

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