Friday, January 27, 2006

City Politics: Back Into the Fray

Top: Carlos Macias of GLAAD, Pedro Julio Serrano of Freedom to Marry, yours truly of Blabbeando (photo by Michael T. Luongo); Middle: NYS Assemblymember Richard Gottfried, NYC Counclilmembers David Yassky, NYS Senator Tom Duane, NYS Comngressmember Carolyne Malone, NYC Council Speaker Chris Quinn, NYC Councilmember Rosie Mendez, Empire State Pride Agenda Executive Director Alan Van Capelle; LGBT Community Services Center Director Richard Burns, NYS Assemblymember Danny O'Donnell; Bottom: The leading Democratic candidate for New York State Governor and current State Attorney General, Eliot Spitzer.

Ok, so politically and even - to some degree - socially, I have been out of the loop for a few months now, considering that I used to attend every single LGBT political meeting in the city (or so it seemed). But after I stepped off as treasurer of the
Out People of Color Political Action Club (though I am still part of the executive committee as a member-at-large), I decided to take a breather.

So at the big two LGBT political events I attended Wednesday night at the LGBT Community Services Center (a community event to salute newly-appointed City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and a Stonewall Democrats endorsement meeting), I had this weird feeling of stepping back into the fray. Nicely, it also gave me a chance to see friends I hadn't seen in a while (Colin Robinson, Michael T. Luongo, Ellen Ensig-Brodsky, Ronnie Billini among many others), but also have an opportunity to give personal thanks to Ana Oliveira, the departing Executive Director at Gay Men's Health Crisis, who supported me and some of my activities during her tenure as the agency's leader, and staff and members of the Board of Directors of the Empire State Pride Agenda, whose board I also left last year.

The Quinn event drew hundreds of people, quite more than I was expecting, and had an appropriately celebratory tone (I'm always amazed when throngs show up for a purely political event). She entered the room to tremendous applause and almost could not leave the place as many wanted to shake her hand and congratulate her personally (I was among them). In perhaps the most touching moment of the night, NYS Senator Tom Duane seemed visibly embarrassed when Christine spoke warmly and at length about his long-time mentorship. Tom tried to shush the crowd but the crowd wouldn't have any of it and also gave him an extended applause.

I was there with Carlos Macias of GLAAD and Pedro Julio Serrano of Freedom to Marry, recent arrivals in New York City, and stood at the back of the room with OutPOCPAC's Gerard Cabrera, who gave Carlos and Pedro Julio the run-down of who was who at both events. Pedro Julio, who knew newly elected and openly-lesbian Councilmember Rosie Mendez, officially introduced me to her. In his blog, Pedro Julio writes about his emotions on Wednesday night and, particularly, about seeing Rosie on the podium and the meaning of a gift he gave her on the night she won the council race. It's a moving piece and, if you understand Spanish, you should read it here. Call me crazy but I was actually moved to see these two younger Latino gay men from other latitudes be so entranced by city politics.

For pure political intrigue and fireworks, the Stonewall Democrats endorsement meeting almost turned into a free-for-all as invited speakers and candidates not scheduled to speak fought for podium time. As Jossip put it "For once, it wasn't the gays who queened out."

But Jossip wasn't the only one who took notice: The New York Times has ran two articles on the fall-out, one yesterday on the state attorney race and one today on comments made that night by Andrew Cuomo.

All in all though, the night also drew an amazing number of people, and I have to give kudos to Stonewall Democrats President Dirk McCall for managing to keep the calm in the midst of flying elbows. At the end of the night, Eliot Spitzer walked away with the first of what I predict will be a large number of endorsements from the City's LGBT political clubs.


Anonymous said...

It's awesome to finally put a face to a name, thanks for posting that pic of you guys. By the way, Carlos is cute :)

I am sorry I couldn't live up to your "personal links" expectations :(

Anonymous said...

Thanks Andrés for your beautiful post about a great night... as always!