New York City Council Celebrates Pride

Special guests including Wendy Williams, Chely Wright, and the family of Jorge Steven López Mercado shared a message of resilience after a year of progress and setbacks.
By Julie Bolcer

The New York City Council hosted its annual LGBT Pride celebration Tuesday evening with special guests including Wendy Williams, Chely Wright, Audra McDonald, Lt. Dan Choi, and the family of Jorge Steven López Mercado, the gay teenager brutally murdered in Puerto Rico last year. Presenters articulated a theme of “moving forward together” in light of a year marked by advances and disappointments.

“Rarely is a pride or protest march quick,” said City Council speaker Christine Quinn in opening remarks to the celebration. “Rarely is it straight, no pun intended, and often along the way, you get diverted.”

Quinn, who is a lesbian, listed achievements in the past year that included passage of the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act and progress toward repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on the federal level. She reserved especially harsh words for members of the New York state senate, which failed to pass a marriage equality bill last December despite widespread anticipation, and just last week allowed a long-awaited transgender rights bill to die in committee.

“I’m not going to pretend I’m not mad at those senators, and I’m not going to pretend that I don’t want to hurt some of their political careers,” she said. “And that’s my right. And that’s your right, too. But what we’re not going to give them is the satisfaction of being so angry we don’t keep moving forward.”

The annual event this year honored Q-Wave, an organization for queer Asian and Pacific Islanders, the Brooklyn Community Pride Center, and the family of Jorge Steven López Mercado, who traveled from Puerto Rico in recognition of their late son. The teen was stabbed to death in November by convicted murderer Juan José Martínez Matos, who deposited his victim’s decapitated and burned body along a remote roadside.