Reclaim Pride Coalition Cuts Ties with NYC LGBT Community Center, Citing “Oppressive Practices” against Marginalized Groups
Queer Liberation March organizers condemn Center for hosting alt-right event, banning pro-Palestinian meetings, and discriminating against trans groups
New York, NY — April 18th, 2019 — The Reclaim Pride Coalition (RPC), organizers of the alternative, grassroots Queer Liberation March on June 30th, released an open letter cancelling all of the group’s room reservations for events at the NYC LGBT Community Center, in protest against The Center’s history of “oppressive practices” against various marginalized groups.
The letter says The Center’s recent decision to host the #WalkAway event, featuring alt-right commentators who had made bigoted, transphobic comments, and The Center’s last-minute cancellation of the event only after public outcry, led RPC to reflect on a series of programming and management mistakes at The Center that have failed the “most vulnerable communities.”
“Attitudes from, and actions by, The Center appear to be rooted in transphobic, racist, and classist attitudes. It is these very attitudes that the community looks toward an institution like The Center to resist and expunge. Instead, The Center largely caters to the more privileged members of the LGBTQTSIA+ community while failing to provide a safe and welcoming space to its more vulnerable and marginalized members,” the letter reads.
The letter says that The Center’s recent claim of supporting free speech for all groups, without endorsing their actions, stood in sharp contrast to The Center’s previous ban on Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QAIA) from holding organizing meetings at The Center to advocate for Palestinian human rights from 2011-2013.
Eight years ago The Center cancelled a fundraising event being planned by the queer group in support of the anti-occupation struggle of the Palestinian people, even after the group had been meeting there for several months. The Center said the group and its event were not LGBT-centered and that some people would feel unsafe if QAIA was allowed to meet there, a position that contradicts The Center’s recent stand on #WalkAway. Eventually, The Center yielded to QAIA’s demands.
The letter goes on to say that many people of color and transgender people within RPC have said that they have felt unsafe and/or unwelcome at The Center and that they would be unlikely to attend public forums held there. Members who have attended Center-run support groups for trans women spoke of overcrowded rooms, onerous and "mandatory intake requirements" like drug and HIV tests and psychiatric evaluations; and the required recording of full, legal names of participants in order to fulfill grant requirements. Frustrated by these unfair constraints, one trans woman attempted to create a new, community-based support group that would convene at The Center, but was denied access. The letter also cites increased rates for room rentals that create an economic hardship for poor and working class community members.
The letter asks that “The Center consider its status as a focal point for the city’s LGBTQTSIA+ community and engage in true accountability and reform. By doing so it can become the space that is so desperately needed by so many in our community and can become part of renewed efforts in the emancipatory fight for queer liberation and social and economic justice.”