Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Tomorrow is supposed to be 92 degrees and sunny. If it's like today, it will be a gorgeous day since - thankfully - the humidity has been relatively low.

BUT, and this is big a big but: I'll be wearing a suit and tie.

As friends know, this is definitely not my usual attire. I just hope I don't turn into sancocho soup with all that hot weather!

The occasion is an event at City Hall to recognize the 198th anniversary of the independence of my country of birth, Colombia (a country that's been much in the news as of late what with all that stuff on the hostage rescue operation that was on CNN 24/7 and this week's episode of the Travel Channel's "No Reservations" which saw chef Anthony Bourdain eating - what else! - sancocho soup in Medellin).

In addition to observing the Colombian independence, ten community leaders will receive honors (I don't have a list of all the honorees but today's New York Daily News mentions Vilma Vallejo, President of the Hispanic Chambers of Commerce of Queens; guitarist Milkos Andrea; and Liliana Melo, President of Colombian Professionals in the Exterior - also known as Pecx).

Hm, somehow my name is there as well. Weird, no? I never know how to react when I learn I am receiving an honor like this. Usually the urge is to ask "Are you sure you got that right?" or to look behind me to see if they're talking to someone else.

In the past, I have received honors twice from the City Comptroller's Office (in 1999 from Comptroller Alan G. Hevesi and in 2006 by current Comptroller Bill Thompson). In 1999 I also was honored by then Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields.

What makes tomorrow's ceremony different is that all those previous events were tied to the annual gay pride month celebrations in New York. Tomorrow's event is not. I doubt if I am the first non-hetero person to be honored at this event but I'm pretty certain I'm the first person to be honored for work done in the city's LGBT communities.

Fifteen years ago when I moved to New York I would have told anyone who predicted that I'd be honored for my queer-related work at a Colombian Independence commemorative event they were crazy. That the ceremony will be hosted by the Black, Latino and Asian Caucus of the New York City Council speaks wonders about how things have changed in those years as well.

I thank City Council Speaker Christine Quinn who certainly has been a trailblazer herself when it comes to city politics.

Most specially, I thank Queens Councilmember Hiram Monserrate and his Chief of Staff Luis Castro who suggested my name for consideration.

[Pictured above: Sancocho! Yum!]


Anonymous said...

Congratulations Andres! It's only fitting that the City Council recognize the importance of all the endless advocacy work you do on behalf of the Latino LGBT and immigrant communities in this city. Well deserved.

Unknown said...

Congratulations! Good things happen to you because you work your ass off to keep all your readers informed. I'm a Panamanian fruit fly that reads your blog daily. Keep up the great work. MMMM Sancho!

Pure Cocoa said...

Congratulations Andres!
I offer these in the name of all my Colombian friends in Canada and the LGBT and immigrant Latino community here.