Daniel W. Tietz (he/him) leads the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, an agency charged with oversight of support programs and economic assistance for low-income New Yorkers. He has long-advocated on behalf of LGBTQI+ rights and social justice concerns. Previously, he served as CEO of Bailey House, which provides housing and supportive services to individuals and families with HIV/AIDS and other chronic conditions; as chief special services officer for the New York City Department of Social Services; as executive director of ACRIA, a national HIV research, education, and advocacy organization; and in leadership roles for Housing Works, among other positions.
What is your favorite Pride Month event or celebration?
As a proud Brooklynite, it is definitely the evening Brooklyn Pride Parade up Fifth Avenue in Park Slope. It brings together all of the beautiful diversity, individuality, and funkiness that make Brooklyn the wonderful and welcoming place it is for so many in our community. Seeing so many friends and colleagues, as well as our local, state, and federal elected officials, having fun and celebrating, and just being who they are, is always inspiring.
What LGBTQ+ icons or activists have inspired you?
There are many, particularly those brave, early leaders in our community who pushed and struggled for the recognition of the basic humanity of LGBTQ+ people when it was anything but safe and comfortable to do so. Audre Lorde comes to mind, as does Urvashi Vaid, who recently died, each of whom recognized that the fight for LGBTQ+ rights, dignity, and justice can’t be separated from the fight for racial, gender, and economic justice. My dear friend Melissa Sklarz also inspires me with her courage and deep commitment to our community, particularly our transgender family and friends.
What can people or corporations do to support the LGBTQ+ community year-round, not just during Pride Month?
They can help by genuinely investing (financial and in-kind) in the community organizations serving LGBTQ+ people in need, and those advocating for justice for all who face discrimination and marginalization. Again, I look to those community leaders who recognize that we’re all in this together; you can’t really separate reproductive rights and justice, for example, from racial, gender, and LGTBQ+ justice. We’re seeing an explosion of anti-LGBTQ+ bills and laws across the country. Corporations and allies must do more than engage in empty sloganeering in June; rather, they must end support for candidates and elected officials who do us harm.
How can businesses create more inclusive environments for their employees and patrons?
For starters, they can reward employees with equitable pay and benefits. And they can fully follow the law in New York, which requires LGBTQ+ non-discrimination in hiring, conditions of employment, etc. Employers could also fully celebrate our diversity and create inviting work environments that honor the talent and skills LGBTQ+ people bring. We’ll commit to employers that fully honor and commit to us, and which demonstrate the same in large and small ways every day.