Monday, July 27, 2009

A Letter to the LGBT Community

Dear LGBT Community of NYC,

In the last two weeks, two Transgendered women in our community have been attacked both physically and verbally in Queens, NY. It's not just coming from regular people on the streets, but these attacks are also coming from the very people who are supposed to Serve and Protect us All. Yes, that right, one attack came straight from the NYPD and the other involved a physical and verbal attack by two men throwing bottles and rocks. It's not just a NYC issue, it's a world wide issue and we need to let the world know "We are here to stay so stop harassing us!"

Today in Jackson Heights, several activists, political leaders and others came out to support the two women who were attack in that borough in the last two weeks and to demand that Albany pass legislation to stop the violence. With email blast and bulletins sent out to promote this rally, you would think more people in this community would show up and give support for these two women. These heartless attacks could happen to anyone of us and any given time at any place.
As I left my house today and heading to this rally, I was thinking, this Rally is going to be HUGE. I was expecting to see many familiar faces and many more unfamiliar. When I arrived, I only seen a small group. Don't get me wrong, this was better than no one showing up, BUT, one would expect more support from this community.

With so many people in the NYC LGBT Community speaking out about equality and being there for each other...WHERE WERE YOU TODAY????? This would have been the perfect rally to practice what you preach, voice your opinion on this issue and give SUPPORT to those treated badly for simply being who they are.... Is it because CNN or FOX wasn't there? No BOOZE? or no party in the street afterwords? Too serious of an issue for you?... As I've heard so often in this community, it's easier to pack a bar full of booze and half naked men than it is to get people to come out and support each other in times of need. I guess today's rally turn out really proves that point.

Just because these attacks didn't happen to you or someone you know, does not mean it can never happen. The point of today's rally is to prevent it from ever happening again. To give the residents of this City and the Nation that we are tired of being mistreated, attacked, and to let Albany know we want the violence stopped.As someone who knows first hand what it's like to be harassed by complete strangers for simply being myself, I take any attack on any individual very close to the heart. I am tired of hearing from others in this community and those who are not, "Oh, he or she probably deserved it", or "they shouldn't be so open", or "what were they doing over there in the first place?"...I'm sorry, but isn't this AMERICA in the year 2009? So why do we, in the LGBT Community still have to live in fear of where we go? how we act? how we look? and so on? Does it really take a senseless attack on one of us, a close friend or family member to wake up and see that this is a serious issue?

Some of you may feel that is not an issue. You may be able to hide your gayness, or pretend you don't care what people think of you, but at any given time, you may find yourself attacked with a bottle or a brick, arrested or searched by police for no reason, called derogatory names by complete strangers in the street or looked at funny for no reason..... Sound familiar? Or have you never experienced at least one of these awful treatments or just in denial?My question being, "What will it take for you to wake up and realize we have a serious problem in this community? What will it take for you to give support to the victims of hate crimes towards those in your community? When will you stop caring more about yourself and start caring for others in this community? When will we see your faces outside of the nightlife scene? Wouldn't you want your community to support you if you ever became a victim?"

My heart and prayers goes out to Leslie Mora and Carnella Etienne, the victims and survivors in which this rally was for, and for others who have ever been a victim of a hate crime.

Giovanni Centurione

1 comment:

Joann Prinzivalli said...

I was there, too. I thought the rally was successful. I spoke briefly about next steps to pass the laws we need - but I didn't have the telephone or fax number:

When Governor Paterson calls the senate for a special session in September, he promised to put the MArriage bill on the agenda -

We have to CALL Gov. Paterson at 518-474-8390 and FAX him at 518-474-1513 to ask him to put GENDA (S 2406, stalled in NYS Senate, which would provide trans folks with statewide hate crime and human rights protection ) on the September special session agenda for the State Senate.

Background for this:

The state constitution provides as follows, in Article IV Section 3:

. . . The governor shall have power to convene the legislature, or the senate only, on extraordinary occasions. At extraordinary sessions convened pursuant to the provisions of this section no subject shall be acted upon, except such as the governor may recommend for consideration. . . .

When the governor calls the special session in September, he has already promised to make sure he puts the marriage bill on the senate agenda for the session. He has *not* yet made a similar promise for either DASA or GENDA - and both of these bills really should be on the list for a special session.

There is an extremely unlikely alternative - the legislature can decide to reconvene in a *regular* session - but that would be *much* more difficult - See Constitution Article III Section 18:

§ 18. The members of the legislature shall be empowered, upon the presentation to the temporary president of the senate and the speaker of the assembly of a petition signed by two-thirds of the members elected to each house of the legislature, to convene the legislature on extraordinary occasions to act upon the subjects enumerated in such petition.

We will *NOT* be able to get 2/3 of the Senate to put any of the bills (GENDA, DASA, Marriage) on an extraordinary regular session agenda. We must rely on the Governor to include them in the promised September Special Session, or wait 'til next year.




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