Brooklyn will be well-represented in Washington D.C. this Sunday as hundreds of Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual and Transgender (LGBT) residents prepare to join the historic National Equality March.
The National Equality March takes place October 11, which is National Coming Out Day. Scheduled speakers include longtime gay activist David Mixner, Judy Shepard, mother of slain college student Matthew Shepard and New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. The cast of the Broadway musical Hair is also slated to attend.
Brooklynites are expected to join in the march, as well as take part in trainings for activists on the Saturday before the march.
Long-time gay rights activist Cleve Jones, who called for Sunday’s march, has compared the equality march with the civil rights march on Washington in 1963, where Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech was made.
“We have a dream too,” Jones said.
Brooklyn LGBT activist Dan Tietz, the former president of the Lambda Independent Democrats, the borough’s largest LGBT political club, said that marchers will encourage federal legislators to move ahead with several bills that the LGBT community has a stake in.
“We now have a Democratic congress and a Democratic president in the White House,” said Tietz. “We want them to move forward a number of issues such as the discrimination act, the military’s don’t ask don’t tell policy and the hate crimes bill.”
“We want to keep Congress moving in that direction and have the president sign the bills,” he said.
The march, as well as other LGBT causes were raised at Borough Hall Thursday as Borough President Marty Markowitz announced that his office will be assisting the Brooklyn Community Pride Center (BCPC) as they search for a home.
Markowitz said that volunteers with the BCPC will work alongside Borough Hall staffers to provide outreach programs and services to LGBT residents. Programs will include a series of monthly Community Education Panels, hosted in partnership with the Kings County District Attorney’s Office, as well as support groups and services for LGBT youth and elders.
“Brooklyn has one of the biggest and most diverse LGBT communities in the United States, including New York City’s largest lesbian population, and it’s only fitting that we have our own Center that addresses the needs of our growing LGBT population and builds on the great work already being done by our Brooklyn LGBT service organizations,” Markowitz said. “I am a proud — emphasis on proud — supporter of the Brooklyn Community Pride Center, which will not only provide vital outreach and community services for our LGBT community, but will go a long way in ensuring that Brooklyn truly is proud home to everyone from everywhere.”
Thomas Smith, president of the BCPC’s Board of Directors said that their volunteers, in conjunction with Borough Hall staffers “will provide support groups, information and other much-needed services for LGBT Brooklynites — everyone from the 11-year-old gay son living in public housing and being teased at school in Central Brooklyn to the Park Slope retiree who just lost her partner of 35 years and has nowhere to turn.”
The BCPC has received over $2 million in public funds from the Borough President’s office and the City Council to create a LGBT community center. Brooklyn is the only borough in the city not to have a center dedicated to LGBT issues.
©2009 Community News Group
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