Protestors, including LGBTQ advocates and several Democratic New York politicians, railed against Chelsea Piers over its “dangerous” decision to host a conference Sunday that features Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Video posted on Twitter shows dozens of demonstrators, including veteran LGBTQ rights activist Allen Roskoff, in front of Pier 60 chanting “Shame!” and “Boycott Chelsea Piers” and hoisting signs that read “Say Gay” and “Not during pride month” as people entered the facility Sunday morning.
Critics say the Republican shouldn’t be allowed to speak at the event, organized by the Jewish group Tikvah Fund, over a law he signed banning school instruction related to sexual orientation or gender identity for children in kindergarten through the fourth grade.
Local pols who attended the Sunday demonstration included US Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D- Upper East Side), State Sen. Brad Hoylman (D- Lower Manhattan), Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou (D- Chinatown), and Lt. Gov. contender Ana María Archila, a picture posted on Twitter shows.
Big Apple officials earlier in the week called on the Manhattan venue to cancel DeSantis’ speech at the Jewish Leadership Conference over the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill, particularly because the event takes place during Pride Month and is in a neighborhood central to LGBTQ history.
“As #LGBTQ elected officials we demand @ChelseaPiersNYC cancel the event with ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Florida Governor @RonDeSantisFL during #pridemonth2022 in Chelsea, the heart of our community,” Hoylman tweeted Monday.
In a statement released Friday, Chelsea Piers said it “could not disagree more strongly” with the governor’s policies, and that Pier Sixty would donate the money from the Tikvah Fund to groups that serve LGBTQ people.
“Over the past 24 years, Pier Sixty has hosted hundreds of influential and notable events that span the spectrum of social and political issues. Pier Sixty has never controlled the content, program or speakers at these events,” the statement read. “Having said that, we could not disagree more strongly with many of Ron DeSantis’ actions in office. One response to abhorrent behavior is so counter it with positive action. Accordingly, Pier Sixty will direct every dollar it receives from Tikvah to groups that protest LGBTQ+ communities and foster and amplify productive debates about LGBTQ+ issues.”
The Tikvah Fund originally planned to host DeSantis along with several other speakers at New York’s Museum of Jewish Heritage — but those plans were scuttled after the facility refused to host the governor, organizers claimed.
The Museum of Jewish Heritage denied last month that it had opted not to rent its space to the Tikvah Fund’s event if DeSantis appeared, saying that “no contract with the Tikvah Fund was ever signed for this rental event to be held at the Museum and no deposit was ever made.”
Titled “Jews, Israel, and the Future of the West,” the Tikvah conference is also set to feature former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Elliott Abrams, the deputy national security adviser under President George W. Bush, former Israeli ambassador to the US Ron Dermer and former New York Times writer Bari Weiss.
DeSantis, 43, is scheduled to address attendees at around 4 p.m. in a speech titled, “The Florida Model and Why It’s Good for Religious Americans.”
The governor and potential 2024 presidential candidate has sparked controversy for signing in March the Parental Rights in Education bill, which liberal and left-wing critics have derisively referred to as the “Don’t Say Gay” law.
Its text reads, “Classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity may not occur in kindergarten through grade 3 or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.”
On Sunday morning, Archila, who is gay, told the crowd that DeSantis has “asked children like my own to pretend that people like their mothers don’t exist, a video clip she posted shows.
“What he’s doing with the legislation, ‘Don’t Say Gay,’ is actually trying to dissapear our community from society,” Archila — who is running on a ticket with Public Advocate and gubernatorial candidate Jumaane Williams — fumed. “This is why it is so dangerous, and cynical and lazy for Chelsea Piers to say that that they will simply give him a platform because that is what they do.”
“You have to be able to draw the line.”
Niou, who is running for Congress, tweeted Sunday that Chelsea Piers is “enabling hatred” by allowing DeSantis to speak.
“The enemy we are up against is big and entrenched and we have to continue to organize against it and make our voices heard everyday until all people are free to love who they love and be who they really are,” she added.
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