Anti-Gay Vandalism Prompts Pro LGBTQ+ Rally in Rockland County
On Sunday, January 15th, hundreds gathered outside of Phyllis B. Frank Rockland County Pride Center for "Stand With Pride: 'We're Here' Rally." The purpose of the rally was to celebrate the community and condemn hateful and anti-gay graffiti that had been scrawled on the building earlier last week.
Rockland County Pride Center Vandalized By Hateful Defacement
Around 11 am on Wednesday, January 11th, an incident of graffiti/criminal mischief was reported to the Orangetown Police. The Rockland County Pride Center was defaced with biased graffiti.
The Rockland County Pride Center issued a statement:
Incidents of hateful graffiti, threats, and intimidation are rising at LGBTQ+ community center around the country. We see it locally in threats against the Pride Center for working with schools. No matter what happens: We're here. We're queer. Period."
Pride Center Executive Director Brooke Malloy called this latest incident a manifestation of the swell of anti-LGBTQ legislation at the state and federal level, the uptick in book-banning requests and school board candidates pushing for limits on what is taught in schools.
According to Karissa Sullivan, who serves on the Pride Center's BIPOC Advisory Board, 40% of homeless youth are LGBTQ youth. She also said that young people who identify as LGBTQ are far more likely to consider suicide. The Pride Center offers a sense of community and acceptance and valuable, lifesaving support.
Many members of the community gathered together, boasting signs, flags and articles of clothing supporting inclusion. New banners were hung that showed members of the Rockland community, ranging from teachers, business leaders, and a local mayor who are part of and support the LGBTQ+ community.
US Representative Mike Lawler, who was invited to speak at the rally, said, "this is a building that represents safety, that represents security... There should be no debate about somebody's worthiness, about somebody's humanity because of who they are."
Other local leaders who attended and spoke include Nyack NAACP President Nicole Hines, Calvary Baptist Church in Haverstraw Pastor Greg Merriweather, Jewish Federation of Rockland board member Dustin Hausner, Pride Center board member Joseph Coe, Nyack Mayor Don Hammond, Rockland County Executive Ed Day, State Assemblyman Ken Zeborwski, Rockland County Sheriff Lou Falco, and Rockland District Attorney Tom Walsh.