LGBTQ plus leaders say they’re moving on from Adams’ appointments

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Mayor Eric Adams announcing new ad campaign in Florida denouncing the “Don’t Say Gay” legislation that was recently signed into law there. April 4, 2022.
Photo By Ethan Stark-Miller

After Mayor Eric Adams appointed three officials to his administration with histories of anti-LGBTQ comments earlier this year, Hizzoner said Monday he and leading gay-rights activists have moved on and will continue to work together.

“This community, they have always turned up the heat on topics that they believe are important. I’ve joined in many of them  since my days on the Senate floor fighting for [gay] marriage. And this is not a community that’s going to be silenced if they see something they don’t like, they’ll let you know,” Adams told reporters Monday.

“And so they’ve always said they’re concerned about the hires that we made and we’re gonna continue to move forward. And these are not just citizens, these are personal friends on a fight to deal with the progress in our LGBTQ plus community,” he added.

Adams came under intense fire in February when he appointed former Councilman Fernando Cabrera as a senior advisor for the Office of Faith-Based and Community Partnership, Eric Salgado as an assistant commissioner in the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs and Gilford Monrose to lead the Office of Faith-Based and Community Partnership. All three are pastors with histories of anti-LGBTQ plus comments.

In response to a reporter’s question, longtime LGBTQ plus advocate Allen Roskoff – one of the leading voices who criticized Adams for appointing the three pastors two months ago – echoed the idea that they’re moving on and will continue working with Adams. But only after taking the opportunity to once again criticize the mayor for the three appointments.

“Of course, we are very disappointed and outraged over the appointments,” Roskoff said. “But we decided to move on and work with the mayor, who we believe made a big mistake in making those appointments. But there’s a lot that we can do together. And we remember the mayor’s history on behalf of the LGBT community. So we’re moving onward.”

The mayor made his comments at a Monday press conference announcing a new city-sponsored digital billboard and ad campaign running in Florida that denounces the “Don’t Say Gay” legislation recently passed in the Sunshine State. Don’t Say Gay, which was signed into law by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis last week, forbids Florida’s teachers from holding classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity.

The city’s ad campaign consists of five pieces of digital art that will run in five of Florida’s major cities, including Jacksonville, Orlando and Tampa. The billboards also call on Floridians who feel persecuted by Don’t Say Gay to come to New York.

“We are going to loudly show our support to say to those who are living in Florida, ‘listen, we want you here in New York, we want you right here in New York City,” Adams said. “And it’s more than just saying that, it’s also standing up and aligning ourselves with the men and women of the LGBTQ plus community and stating that we are in unison with you and your right to have self identification, your right to live the life that you choose to live without any form of harassment.”

However, Roskoff said, he’d like to see Adams take this campaign a step further – by circulating similar positive messages about the LGBTQ plus community in the city’s public schools.

“Our students in the city still feel threatened and intimidated and are afraid to come out,” Roskoff said. “I suggest that all these posters be posted in every school. I suggest that there be a banner as students walk into the schools, ‘saying celebrate LGBTQ pride.’ And I recommend that there be an assembly in every school with an identical program, perhaps a film, so the students can learn about why we celebrate LGBTQ pride.”

Roskoff also suggested that LGBTQ plus issues be integrated into public school curriculums. The mayor said he thinks these are good ideas but wouldn’t commit to implementing any of them immediately.