BY ARIEL HERNANDEZ
An openly gay elementary school teacher was attacked in Jackson Heights on Sunday evening following the annual Queens Pride Parade.
Brandon Soriano, 25, had just finished celebrating Queens Pride when he was attacked. Police are investigating the incident as a hate crime.
At approximately 10 p.m. near the corner of 37th Avenue and 84th Street, two strangers approached Soriano, knocked him to the ground, yelled anti-gay slurs and beat him unconscious.
Soriano was left with a busted lip and large, raised bruises around his head.
Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights), who was also an openly gay New York City educator prior to being elected to office, said that he was angry and disappointed that such an attack would take place on a day meant to celebrate LGBTQ pride.
“I am outraged that this anti-gay attack occurred in the wake of the Queens LGBT Pride Parade,” said Dromm, who is the chairman of the City Council’s LGBT Caucus. “My heart goes out to Brandon Soriano, the survivor of the attack. It is horrific that a member of the LGBTQ community experienced such violence after Queens Pride, a celebration of who we are. I founded the parade in 1993 as a way to fight back against such anti-LGBTQ oppression. While the fight for equality and justice for LGBTQ people in Queens has come a long way since then, sadly, attacks like these still occur. They are in no way representative of Jackson Heights or our borough, and we will continue to resist attempts like these which seek to force us back into the closet. Queens Pride is about LGBTQ visibility, our greatest asset, and will remain so.”
State Sen. Jose Peralta (D-Elmhurst), who also marched in the parade, said he was outraged that attacks based on a person’s sexual orientation and gender expression continue to occur.
“Just hours after we all came together and celebrated the Queens Pride Parade, a neighbor was attacked in the district as the perpetrators shouted anti-gay epithets at him,” said Peralta. “This is intolerable. There is no room for hate in our community, especially in one as diverse as Jackson Heights. Our diversity should unite us, not divide us. As the NYPD investigates this savage crime, it is my hope that the attacker or attackers are prosecuted and held accountable for their actions. We must ensure we all work together to put an end to hate and send a clear message of unity and solidarity.”
Police said the attackers fled the scene prior to law enforcement’s arrival. No arrests have been made.
The NYPD’s Hate Crime Task Force is investigating the assault.
Anyone with information regarding the assault can call the 115th Precinct Detective Squad at (718) 533-2039 or Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS. All calls are kept confidential.
Reach Ariel Hernandez at (718) 357-7400, ext. 144, email@example.com or @reporter_ariel.