Queens Pride Announces Grand Marshals

20 Dromm

(Left to right): Councilman Daniel Dromm, Councilwoman Rosie Mendez and Councilman Corey Johnson.

The 2014 Queens Pride parade will be led by a combination of individuals and organizations that have made great strides to advance LGBTQ visibility citywide.

New York City is now represented by six LGBT councilmembers. Referred to as the LGBT Caucus, these LGBT leaders represent districts in four of the five New York City boroughs.

“Serving as a Grand Marshal of the 2014 Queens Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Parade and Festival, which I founded 21 years ago, is one of the greatest honors ever bestowed upon me,” Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) said. “This continually growing and thriving parade and festival are powerful examples of inclusivity and are wonderful events celebrating equal rights for all people.”

The LGBTQ community has made great strides in its acceptance throughout the neighborhoods of Queens. Organizations like Chutney Pride that have worked very hard to outreach to particular ethnic groups to promote and achieve tolerance. Tina Arniotis, founder of Chutney Pride, says “we are pleased to serve as a Grand Marshal at the 2014 Queens Pride Parade because we have come a long way in the LGBT Caribbean community and to be recognized for efforts to have equals rights is such an honor.”

Tina Arniotis and Chutney Pride
Tina Arniotis, best known in the community as “MotherGay,” is a pioneer for bringing awareness in local communities for Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transgenders of Caribbean decent for acceptance and mutual respect. She was the founder of Tropical Kings & Queens – the very first Queer Caribbean social group.

In 1997, Arniotis launched the first Caribbean gay party that catered to all LGBT individuals of Caribbean descents in Queens. Arniotis always identified herself with her Caribbean roots but never felt accepted as an openly-gay woman and wanted to create a comfortable environment without any discrimination or judgment for her LGBT friends.

Arniotis continues to bring folks together in a safe, close to home like atmosphere by hosting annual events such as the “Big Truck” carnival march event in the NYC Pride Parade, “Hallo-Queen” and group outings.

(Clockwise from top left): Carlos Menchaca, Councilman Jimmy  Van Bramer, Melissa Sklarz and Councilman  Richie Torres.

(Clockwise from top left): Carlos Menchaca, Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, Melissa Sklarz and Councilman Richie Torres.

Councilman Daniel Dromm
Councilman Daniel Dromm has been a progressive leader in Queens for more than 20 years. An award-winning public school teacher, Dromm was elected to the New York City Council in 2009 and represents his home District 25 of Jackson Heights and Elmhurst. He serves as the Chairperson of the Council’s Education Committee.

Dromm is the founder of the Queens Lesbian and Gay Pride Committee and organized the first Queens LGBT Pride Parade and Festival, which he still participates in on the first Sunday in June in Jackson Heights. Dromm co-founded the Queens Chapter of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), as well as the Generation Q Youth Services Program. He founded the Lesbian and Gay Democratic Club of Queens and the New Visions Democratic Club serving the 39th Assembly District.

Councilman Corey Johnson
Councilman Corey Johnson was elected in November with more than 86 percent of the vote to represent Manhattan’s West Side.

Johnson first came to national attention in 2000, when he became a trailblazer for LGBT youth. As the captain of his high school football team, he took the courageous step of coming out publicly, and kept not only his position of leadership, but also the support of his school and teammates. His bravery landed him on the front page of the New York Times.

Councilman Carlos Menchaca
Carlos Menchaca, born in El Paso, Texas, is the first Mexican-American elected to public office in New York City, and the first openly-gay New York City Council member from Brooklyn.

Prior to assuming office, Menchaca worked in the Brooklyn Borough President’s Office. From 2011 to 2013, Menchaca served as a liaison to the LGBT and HIV / AIDS community for the Office of the Speaker in the New York City Council.

Shortly after being elected, Menchaca, along with then-Councilman-Elect Mark Treyer, called for the creation of a new committee to oversee Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts.

Councilwoman Rosie Mendez
Rosie Mendez has demonstrated a lifelong commitment to her community through her activism, legal advocacy, and government service.

Through her professional and volunteer positions at many non-profit organizations, Mendez gained first-hand experience dealing with issues that affect all New Yorkers.

In November 2005, Rosie was elected to serve as a member of the New York City Council in the Second District and took office in January 2006 serving the neighborhoods of the Lower East Side, the East Village, Gramercy, and Murray Hill.

Melissa Sklarz
Melissa Sklarz became the first transgender person elected to office in New York in 1999, when she was elected Judicial Delegate from the 66th Assembly District. In 2004, Melissa became the first transgender person from New York to be part of the state delegation at the Democratic National Convention, by being appointed to the Credentials Committee in 2004 and again in 2012.

She helped bring civil rights to transgender people in New York City when INT 24 became law in 2002, served on the Working Group with the New York Human Rights Commission to flesh out the law, and has been a lobbying leader for GENDA (Gender Expression Non Discrimination Act) since the bill was developed.

Councilman Richie Torres
Councilman Ritchie Torres was elected to office in November to represent the communities of the Central Bronx. Ritchie is the first openly gay candidate to be elected to legislative office in the Bronx and the youngest member of the City Council.

A lifelong son of the Bronx, Torres was raised in a single-parent household, growing up and living most of his life in a NYCHA public housing development. His family’s hardship instilled in Torres a deep-seeded commitment to serve New York’s low-income and working class communities.

While attending Lehman High School he was selected to be the “Community Board District Manager For A Day” with James Vacca, who went on to become the local City Council Member. Ritchie worked for Vacca’s first campaign in 2005 and by 2011 was named Vacca’s first Housing Director.

Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer
A lifelong resident of Western Queens, Jimmy Van Bramer was elected to the City Council on Nov. 3, 2009. He was overwhelmingly elected to a second 4-year term in 2013.

On Jan. 22, Van Bramer was elected Majority Leader of the City Council, the second highest ranking member in the 51 member body. As part of his duties as Majority Leader, he was also appointed by Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito to co-chair the newly constituted Budget Negotiating Team, which plays an integral role in formulating the City’s budget process to fund critical programs, projects and organizations citywide. Council Member Van Bramer also plays a key role as a bridge between colleagues and the Speaker.

Van Bramer lives in Sunnyside Gardens with Dan Hendrick, his partner of 15 years. The two were married on July 28, 2012 with Van Bramer becoming the first openly-gay elected official to get married in Queens.