In their own words: LGBT Bronxites react

The recent anti-gay crimes in Morris Heights left lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered residents in the Bronxthem unnerved. Some felt the suicides of gay children and young adults, like Tyler Clementi, could have been stopped if LGBT communities united to say it’s OK to be gay or transgendered.

Others thought anti-gay crimes aren’t new issues in America, and said they happen all the time in communities where cultural values spread homophobia. In New York City, 17 percent of reported hate crimes in 2008 occurred because of sexual orientation, according to FBI reports. Many more crimes, according to these Bronx activists, go unreported.

Representatives from the NYC LGBT Chamber of Commerce, Boogie Down Bronx (an outreach program geared towards educating students about LGBT issues) and the Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance spoke in an interview about their plans for the future.

Hear their voices, and the voices from a community rally, below.

Eric Soto
Soto at the LGBT rally in the Bronx.

Eric Soto, 44, is a student from the Bronx and a founding member of Boogie Down Bronx. Hear what he has to say about how he reacted, as the victim of a hate crime, to the news of the crimes in Morris Heights.

Rev. Carmen Hernandez
Rev. Carmen Hernandez holds a candle during the Bronx LGBT rally on Oct. 26.

Rev. Carmen Hernandez, 47, from the NYC LGBT Chamber of Commerce says she wants her community back.

Charles Rice-Gonzalez
Courtesy of Arthur Aviles

For Charles Rice-Gonzalez, the 46-year-old founder of Bronx Academy of Art and Dance, anti-gay sentiment in black and Latino communities isn’t new.

Rally supporters
The crowd at the LGBT Rally on the Bronx Courthouse steps.

Voices of the LGBT Rally on the Bronx Courthouse steps.

No more on the down low, gay leaders vow

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