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Brooklyn LGBTQ+ bar in ruins after arson attack

The 5-month-old space near Myrtle Avenue caters to the LGBTQ+ crowd, and is known for being packed late into the night

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FDNY responds to the fire at the Rash Bar in Bushwick (Photo Credit: @PETESASSAFRASSS/TWITTER)

BUSHWICK, Brooklyn, Ny. – Bushwick’s Rash Bar was left unrecognizable after an arsonist described as a man dressed in black strolled into the bar with a gas canister, poured some on the floor and started the fire before dashing out Sunday night.

Jake Offenhartz a general assignment reporter at the Gothamist interviewed Tyler Glenn, the 25-year-old bartender on duty Sunday who said that he emerged from the basement of Rash to find the small venue filling up with smoke. At first Glenn assumed someone had cranked up the fog machine.

“Then I realized I couldn’t breathe,” Glenn told Offenhartz. “The whole thing was in flames. I was banging on the walls and I couldn’t find the door and I could feel myself about to pass out

In another interview with New York NBC News flagship channel 4, Rash Bar  owner Claire Bendiner said; “I was standing right here actually when it happened, I had just stepped out. Everyone rushed out. The side door has a glass front and I looked over and saw flames to the top of ceiling. It was crazy, it happened so fast.”

Glenn, Bendiner, and one more employee were the only staff on duty along with roughly a dozen patrons who were inside at the time of the incident. Glenn suffered second degree burns on the face and lips and remained hospitalized on Tuesday. Another person who was set to DJ later that evening was also hospitalized with minor injuries.

Glenn, a Bed-Stuy resident who uses they/them pronouns, the fire struck a familiar nerve. Glenn previously worked at Bossa Nova Civic Club, another queer-friendly club that shut down after a devastating fire earlier this year.

Tyler Glenn as they recovered at New York-Presbyterian Hospital hospital after the blaze.
(Photo courtesy of Tyler Glenn)

The 5-month-old space near Myrtle Avenue caters to the LGBTQ+ crowd, and is known for being packed late into the night, NBC 4 reported. Nearly all of the damage was contained to the inside of the bar.

The NYPD are reviewing surveillance from a gas station around the corner that showed someone filling up a gas can minutes before the fire. The flames and smoke from that night also invaded two apartments above the bar, but everyone was able to make it out.

The owners mostly want to know: Why this bar?

“We still don’t know what to make of this cruel act of violence. In only five short months we were privileged to become home to such a talented and vital community of artists. It breaks our hearts that anyone would seek to threaten that for any reason. We’ve been trying to figure it out but we don’t know the motive possible hate crime,” Bendiner told NBC4. “This a queer bar. Maybe a disgruntled customer. I have no idea. Hard to get into the mindset of someone who would do this.”

A GoFundMe for the queer Brooklyn venue hopes to raise $200K to help staff affected by the horrific act and help the bar rebuild.

To view the GoFundMe, please visit: https://gf.me/v/c/z86s/rashbarfire

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Long Island library reverses decision to pull LGBTQ Pride display & books

“The Board of Trustees reversed its decision to ban Pride displays & books in the children’s section! This happened because YOU spoke up!”

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Smithtown Library, Long Island NY (Smithtown Library Board/Facebook)

SMITHTOWN, Ny. – The Smithtown Library Board of Trustees met in an emergency session Thursday night to rescind its Tuesday vote to ban any and all displays related to LGBTQ Pride from kids’ areas at Smithtown Library buildings.

The Board’s Tuesday decision was met with anger and dismay including New York Governor Kathy Hochul who wrote on Twitter, “Our public spaces should be accepting our young people — not rejecting them.”

The New York Library Association had also issued a statement saying; “This ban of any displays related to Pride sets a dangerous precedent for libraries across the state because it normalizes the victimization of LGBTQ+ youth in their schools and in their communities, which has dire consequences.

The Hauppauge New York-based LGBT Network credited the onslaught of public anger and criticism including Governor Hochul’s as the mitigating factors in the reversal by the library board. The group also warned that there is a larger fight being waged that imperils LGBTQ+ youth.

“Tonight the Smithtown Library Board of Trustees reversed its decision to ban Pride displays and books in the children’s section of their library! This happened because YOU spoke up and spoke out! It is a reason to celebrate and demonstrates what our collective power can do. But it is also a wakeup call that the culture wars targeting LGBTQ youth are very much here in our backyard,” a statement on the group’s website noted.

“The reversal overall is good because it gets those books and displays back into the libraries,” LGBT Network vice president Robert Vitelli told local media after the library board reversed itself. “The commentary that went along with the votes shows there’s still a lot that needs to be done.”

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New York

Long Island library yanks LGBTQ+ Pride display & books from kids section

“Our LGBTQ youth are under attack- This isn’t Alabama or Florida or the bible belt — this is Long Island!”

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Library books on shelves at the Smithtown library main branch (Screenshot/Tube NBC New York)

SMITHTOWN, Ny. – A 4-2 vote Tuesday by the Smithtown Library Board of Trustees to ban any and all displays related to LGBTQ Pride from kids’ areas at Smithtown Library buildings, was met with anger and dismay including New York Governor Kathy Hochul who wrote on Twitter, “Our public spaces should be accepting our young people — not rejecting them.”

The New York Library Association issued a statement saying; “This ban of any displays related to Pride sets a dangerous precedent for libraries across the state because it normalizes the victimization of LGBTQ+ youth in their schools and in their communities, which has dire consequences.

According to The Trevor Project’s 2020 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health, 40% LGBTQ respondents seriously considered attempting suicide in the past twelve months, and more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth have seriously considered suicide.

Further, GLSEN’s School Climate Survey for LGBTQ+ Students in New York reported over 50%
of LGBTQ+ students experienced at least one form of anti-LGBTQ+ discrimination in their
schools. Although countless research points towards how public LGBTQ+ representation is life
saving for LGBTQ+ youth – only 28% of students in New York were taught positive
representations of LGBTQ+ people, history, or events.

“Our LGBTQ youth are under attack,” said Dr. David Kilmnick, the president and CEO of the New York LGBTQ Network. “This isn’t Alabama or Florida or the bible belt — this is Long Island!”

“You come after our kids, we’re going after you. We’re gonna replace you on the school boards, we’re gonna replace you on the library boards,” Kilmnick added.

Brianna Baker-Stines, the president of the library board, was similarly shocked and disappointed by the actions taken. She told NBC New York, “I was horrified by the display of ignorance at last night’s Board meeting. As a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, I recognize the importance of access to diverse materials.”

The New York Library Association also signaled its support of the staff of library:

Nassau County Legislator Arnold Drucker said “I feel like I’m living in the Twilight Zone.”

“Earlier this year, when Florida was ramming destructive ‘Don’t Say Gay’ laws through its State Legislature, I lamented the fact that this coordinated, nationwide assault on the LGBTQ+ community could soon arrive on our doorstep. Well, it’s here,” he said in a statement. “What transpired yesterday in Smithtown shows us that we cannot pull the wool over our own eyes for a moment longer by saying, ‘it won’t happen here.'”

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NYC LGBTQ+ groups protest DeSantis appearance at Chelsea Piers 

“The bottom line is Chelsea Piers is providing a venue to propagate hate toward the LGBTQ community and that is unacceptable on many levels”

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U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) poses with protestors outside Chelsea Piers (Photo credit: Rep. Carolyn Maloney/Twitter)

NEW YORK CITY – An appearance by anti-LGBTQ+ Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis speaking to the Jewish Leadership Conference at Chelsea Piers sparked protests Sunday by LGBTQ+ advocacy groups and several elected officials including U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY).

The appearance by the Florida governor, who signed the state’s infamous ‘Don’t Say Gay Law’ and during a press conference last week where he also suggested he might urge the state’s child protective services to investigate parents who take their children to drag shows, was decried as insensitive and offensive during LGBTQ+ Pride month held every June to commemorate the 1969 LGBTQ+ uprising at the Stonewall Inn which is located about 2 miles away.

State Senator Brad Hoylman who represents Chelsea has joined other Democratic politicians and NYC leaders and urged Chelsea Piers to say no to hate and demagoguery: “The bottom line is Chelsea Piers is providing a venue to propagate hate toward the LGBTQ community and that is unacceptable on many levels, including that it is Pride and that it is in Chelsea, the heart of the community,” Hoylman said.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney tweeted her disgust at both the Florida Governor and Chelsea Piers:

In a tweet of his own DeSantis fired back at his critics:

The venue told the New York Times that it would be donating money to groups that support LGBTQ+ rights to mitigate the fallout. The Times reported the decision by Chelsea Piers to donate money has not mollified critics.

Other groups are canceling upcoming events at Chelsea Piers. Rich Ferraro, a spokesman for GLAAD, said his organization would “refrain from future events” at the complex, “given the platform that Chelsea Piers is giving to one of the most anti-L.G.B.T.Q. and dangerous politicians today.”

The Ali Forney Center, a group that works with homeless L.G.B.T.Q. youth in New York, said on Friday that it would no longer be holding a program there next month. “People are saying this issue is about freedom of speech, but it is not. It is in response to DeSantis silencing freedom of speech in schools,” the group’s president, Alex Roque, wrote in a statement.

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