Two-year-old nonprofit throws bash at Crotona Park
Despite gloomy weather, Crotona Park was a bright rainbow hue in celebration of the annual Bronx LGBTQ Pride and Health Fair on July 19.
The LGBTQ Community Services Center of the Bronx, which opened in 2012, organized the party for the second straight year. Trans activist Tyra Allure Rose and drag queens Lady Clover Honey and Diva Jackie Dupree hosted this year’s event, with inspirational messages and a dose of comedy.
LGBTQ activists were granted awards for their service in the borough. Kim Watson won the Christine Jorgensen Trailblazer Award for her work in the transgender community. The event helped “make sure the transgender community in the Bronx come back together,” and gains visibility, Watson said.
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. told the crowd that the event is “just as important as any of the heritage celebrations we have.,” and praised revelers for continuing to show their pride openly despite lingering discrimination.
Mott Haven resident Adrian G., 24, said he was encouraged by the turnout and the optimism engendered by the event.
“There’s a lot of positivity about gender sexuality,” he said. ”I think overall it’s really important to have LGBTQ community out there so we’re not swept under the rug.”
Last February, the leader of a group of young men that brutally beat two gay men in 2010 in the borough’s University Heights section, was sentenced to 14 years in prison in an attack so chilling it drew national condemnation. But rather than focusing on the obstacles gays, lesbians and transgender citizens often face and hiding from them, the pride committee’s chair, Peter C. Frank, said the party aimed to raise the community’s profile.
“It’s extremely important to let the LGBTQ community know that there are people out here that are supporting us,” he said.
The LGBTQ Community Services Center of the Bronx was established two years ago to fill the gap left when the former Bronx Community Pride Center closed amid funding problems and scandal. The Pride Center’s executive director, Lisa Winters, was accused of stealing nearly $350,000 to finance personal shopping sprees and a trip to Africa, leaving the organization penniless.
The Community Services Center that replaced it is still searching for a permanent home. The Pride Center had been located in Mott Haven before moving to Longwood three years ago, but the new organization has no plans set yet for a Bronx location.
But a new center could cost anywhere between 100,000 and $250,000, Frank said, an amount well beyond the organization’s present means. While it seeks a home, the Center works out of area organizations around the borough, such as the Union Community Health Center and AHS Caring Communities.
Meanwhile, Frank wants members of the LGBTQ community seeking support and services to know that “we’re united and we are creating safe spaces in the Bronx for our community.”