Several prominent LGBTQ clubs in New York City are boycotting a Pride Month reception being hosted on Tuesday by Mayor Eric Adams in protest of his decision to hire several pastors with anti-LGBTQ views as part of his administration.
In a lengthy statement, Stonewall Democrats of New York City, along with Lambda Independent Democrats of Brooklyn, the Lesbian and Gay Democratic Club of Queens and Equality New York, said that Adams’ appointees are “reinforcing the violent institutions that harm LGBTQ people every day.”
“We will not celebrate Pride with him,” the groups said in the joint statement. “Mayor Adams has tested the boundaries of the LGBTQ community to see where he can overstep — including who he can afford to disregard for the sake of his own interests. Mayor Adams’ only interests are his own, and prioritizing the needs of the policing and surveillance institutions in the city, at the expense of investment into education, mental health, community health and LGBTQ services.”
A fifth group, the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, did not sign onto the statement, but will also be boycotting the reception at Gracie Mansion, reports the New York Daily News.
“If I go, people will think that I approve of the mayor, and I don’t approve of the mayor’s anti-gay hires, said Allen Roskoff, the group’s founder. “I can’t give people the wrong impression. This is a warning to him. I doubt he’s going to be able to show his face at Pride Month events without getting booed unless some of these issues are resolved.”
While Adams has taken some official actions to advocate on behalf of LGBTQ rights — including launching an ad campaign that enraged Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a possible 2024 presidential contender, by denouncing the state’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law and encouraging Floridians upset with the law to move to New York — some more liberal activist groups question his commitment to countering and denouncing homophobia in the city.
That doubt stems from Adams’ decision to tap several pastors with anti-LGBTQ views or past statements for roles within his administration. The two hires that received the most pushback were former City Councilmember Fernando Cabrera and Rev. Eric Salgado, a failed mayoral candidate.
Adams tapped Cabrera to run the Mayor’s Office of Community Mental Health, but received stronger-than-expected backlash from LGBTQ groups and several LGBTQ politicians from New York City, who cited Cabrera’s support of Uganda’s “Kill the Gays” law criminalizing homosexuality, his ties with the anti-LGBTQ Alliance Defending Freedom, and some of his votes against pro-LGBTQ legislation while on the City Council. Adams withdrew Cabrera’s name from consideration for the mental health post, but then named Cabrera as a senior spiritual adviser in the Office of Faith-Based and Community Partnerships.
Adams named Salgado, an evangelical pastor from southern Brooklyn, as assistant commissioner in the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, despite Salgado’s past rhetoric attacking homosexuality, his actions protesting the legalization of marriage equality, and statements he made suggesting that statues honoring gay victims killed by the Nazis were a “betrayal of the community” and “disrespectful” to those who were killed in the Holocaust.
Both Cabrera and Salgado apologized for their past remarks after being appointed by Adams to their current positions.
Adams also received a smaller amount of criticism for selecting Rev. Gilford Monrose, a pastor with a history of anti-LGBTQ views and statements, to head the Office of Faith-Based and Community Partnerships.
The mayor also received a proverbial “black eye” after appointing Rev. Kathlyn Barrett-Layne, the head of Reach Out and Touch Ministries in Staten Island, as one of his nine picks to the Panel for Educational Policy, which serves as a governing body for the city Department of Education and approves its contracts.
He was later forced to withdraw that appointment fewer than six hours after it was announced, due to backlash from the LGBTQ community stemming from a story published in the New York Daily News outlining Barrett-Layne’s history of anti-gay writings, including a book she wrote comparing same-sex relationships to pedophilia, crime, and other “temptations” facing Christians, and another in which she claimed to have prayed over her daughter after her the then-3-year-old claimed she was a boy.
Fabian Levy, a spokesman for the mayor, told the Daily News that Adams has met with representatives of some of the boycotting groups since taking office, and hinted that his boss plans to make some LGBTQ-related announcements this month.
“We’re excited to have already taken action to support priorities of the community and look forward to making additional announcements during Pride and in the months ahead,” Levy said. “Our team is committed to serving all New Yorkers equally and fairly, regardless of who they love or how they identify, and is excited to host a Pride celebration at Gracie Mansion.”
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