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WABC’s Up Close | Stonewall Inn’s revival & NYC’s equity efforts

WABC-TV Channel 7 is showcasing stories of Pride with a special edition of the Up Close podcast with host Bill Ritter



WABC 7 news anchor Bill Ritter interviews Ronald Porcelli & co-owners of the Stonewall Inn, Stacy Lentz and Kurt Kelly. (Screenshot WABC)

NEW YORK, N.Y. – As the 55th anniversary of the queer uprising at the Stonewall Inn in West Greenwich Village, WABC 7 news anchor Bill Ritter interviews Ronald Porcelli, the director of the NYC Unity Project, Mayor’s Office of Equity & Racial Justice, and the co-owners of the Stonewall Inn, Stacy Lentz and Kurt Kelly.

According to Ritter on his podcast WABC Up Close, Lentz and Kelly share the stories of what inspired them to buy the Stonewall Inn 18 years ago, what the process of reviving it entailed, the challenges they face and what the future holds for this institution, while sharing their own stories of embracing their identities and living their truths.

Porcelli gives listeners and viewers a rare look into how City Hall is working with diverse communities to make New York a more equitable and fair place for all of its people during a time of heightened societal polarization.


For readers & viewers in the Tri-State area watch Up Close on Sunday mornings at 11:00 on Channel 7, WABC-TV.


New York

Pride flags vandalized at Stonewall National Monument – again

The Stonewall National Monument, the first U.S. national monument dedicated to LGBTQ+ history, was dedicated in 2016



A rainbow flag at the Stonewall National Monument, established 2016, with the NPS arrowhead flying in Christopher Park. (Photo Credit: USNPS)

WEST GREENWICH VILLAGE, NY – During Pride month every June, Stonewall National Monument volunteers put up 250 LGBTQ+ Pride Flags on the Black iron decorative picket fence that rings the Christopher Street park.

This year, according to a statement from an New York Police Department spokesperson, 160 of the flags were torn down and damaged between Thursday evening and Friday morning. The NYPD said that no arrests have been made and that the vandals climbed over the Black iron decorative picket fence that rings the Christopher Street park to gain access to the monument.

This is the second year in a row for an vandalism incident on the Stonewall National Monument. In 2023, Park volunteers found at least 70 of those flags torn down and damaged in what the New York Police Department‘s Hate Crimes Task Force investigated as a hate crime and later arrested three men.

Openly gay New York City Councilmember Erik Bottcher, whose district includes West Greenwich Village, posted photos of the snapped flags on Instagram and X on Friday. 

“Last night, bigots vandalized the Stonewall National Monument, snapping flag sticks & stealing 3/4 of the flags around the permitter of the park. Also, someone burned Pride decorations at 22nd St. in Chelsea. Anyone who thinks this will intimidate our community is badly mistaken,” Bottcher wrote.

Reacting to the vandalism at Stonewall, New York City Mayor Eric Adams in a statement said that “hate has no place in our city.” The mayor added “Our administration wants every member of our LGBTQ+ community to know: we are here for you and our administration will always have your back,” Adams said. “We will work in close coordination with the NYPD to identify and hold accountability whoever committed this heinous act.”

The Stonewall National Monument, the first U.S. national monument dedicated to LGBTQ+ history, was dedicated in 2016. It encompasses a park across the street from the Stonewall Inn, a bar where patrons fought back against a police raid on June 28, 1969, and helped spark the contemporary LGBTQ+ rights movement.

In a graphic published Saturday by NBC News, over twenty acts of hate against LGBTQ+ Pride have occurred so far this month:

Source: News reports. (Graphic: Nigel Chiwaya / NBC News)
Cedar ParkTexas
German VillageOhio
Little RockArk.
New YorkN.Y.

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New York

NYC subway station to be renamed in honor of Stonewall Inn

NYC Subway to mark the role the West Village tavern and park had in launching the modern LGBTQ+ rights movement



Christopher Street Subway Station entrance on New York City's MTA. (Photo by Joe Jervis)

NEW YORK – The Christopher Street-Sheridan Square subway station in West Greenwich Village, a local station on the IRT Broadway–Seventh Avenue Line of the New York City Subway, has entrance/exit points located adjacent to the Christopher Street Park and steps from the historic Stonewall Inn, scene of the 1969 LGBTQ+ uprising.

Assembly Bill A8970A, a bill sponsored by Sen. Brad Hoylman-Sigal and Assembly Member Deborah Glick, gained final passage of the New York State Senate on Wednesday, which directs the MTA to rename the station to “Christopher Street-Stonewall National Monument Station” marking the role the West Village tavern and park played in launching the modern LGBTQ+ rights movement.

Stonewall Inn 2023 (Los Angeles Blade/file photo)

“This change will memorialize the history of the modern LGBTQ civil rights movement and inspire NY to demand justice and equality for all,” Hoylman-Sigal said in a post on X (formerly Twitter). “Happy Pride!”

Designated a national monument for its role in the early LGBTQ+ fight for equality by President Barack Obama in 2016, Stonewall is the first national monument dedicated to LGBTQ rights and history.

New York real estate industry trade publication 6sqft reported that in June 2022, Pride Live, an LGBTQ+ advocacy group, broke ground on the Stonewall National Monument Visitor Center, the first LGBTQ+ visitor center within the National Park Service’s system. The center sits directly next to the historic Inn and provides a space to learn about the Stonewall Rebellion in its original location.

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NY Court: County exec exceeded authority with transphobic order

The New York Civil Liberties Union had filed a lawsuit challenging Blakeman’s executive order on behalf of the Long Island Roller Rebels



Right-wing conservative anti-trans females participating in sports activist Caitlyn Jenner with Nassau County NY Executive Bruce Blakeman. (Photo credit: Jenner/Facebook)

MINEOLA, N.Y. –  A judge from the Nassau County Supreme Court has struck down Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman’s February 22, 2024 executive order banning transgender girls and women from participating in girls’ and women’s sports at county-run facilities.  

In March, the New York Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit challenging Blakeman’s executive order on behalf of the Long Island Roller Rebels, a Nassau County recreational women’s flat track roller derby league. Under the executive order, the league, which welcomes trans women, was barred from using Nassau County’s facilities. 

The lawsuit argues that the policy violates New York’s Human Rights Law and Civil Rights Law, which explicitly prohibit discrimination based on gender identity following passage of New York’s Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA).  

This past Friday, Nassau County Supreme Court Judge Francis Ricigliano ruled that Blakeman did not have the authority to issue such an order. “In doing so, this Court finds the County Executive acted beyond the scope of his authority as the Chief Executive Officer of Nassau County,” Ricigliano wrote.

Judge Ricigliano also noted that Blakeman could not act without corresponding action by the Nassau County Legislature. It includes representatives from each of the county’s 19 districts.

Reacting Blakeman responded in a statement, saying, “Lack of courage from a Judge who didn’t want to decide the case on its merits. Unfortunately, girls and women are hurt by the Court.”

“We are gratified the court has struck down a harmful policy that belongs in the dustbin of history,” said Gabriella Larios, staff attorney at the New York Civil Liberties Union. “The ruling deals a serious blow to County Executive Blakeman’s attempt to score cheap political points by peddling harmful stereotypes about transgender women and girls. We will continue to ensure that the attacks against LGBTQ+ rights that are sweeping the nation will not stand in New York.”  

“Today’s decision is a victory for those who believe that transgender people have the right to participate in sports just like everyone else. It sends a strong message that transphobic discrimination cannot stand,” said Curly Fry, president of Long Island Roller Rebels. “As a league welcoming trans women and committed to providing a safe space for everyone to be their full selves, County Executive Blakeman’s order tried to punish us just because we believe in inclusion and stand against transphobia. Trans people belong everywhere including in sports, and they will not be erased.” 

In early April, U.S. District Court Judge Nusrat Choudhury, who is on the bench of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, denied Blakeman’s request for a temporary restraining order against New York Attorney General Letitia James.

On March 1st, the New York State Attorney General sent a order of cease and desist to Blakeman demanding that the Republican Nassau County Executive rescind his February 22 directive within five days or else face additional legal actions. 

“The law is perfectly clear: you cannot discriminate against a person because of their gender identity or expression. We have no room for hate or bigotry in New York,” the Attorney General wrote. “This executive order is transphobic and blatantly illegal. Nassau County must immediately rescind the order, or we will not hesitate to take decisive legal action.” 

The Nassau County Executive then announced he was filing a lawsuit over the Attorney General’s actions.

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New York AG Letitia James sued by transphobic county exec

“You cannot discriminate against a person because of their gender identity or expression. We have no room for hate or bigotry in New York”



LGBTQ+ ally New York Attorney General Letitia James participates in NYC's annual Pride parade in June 2023. (Photo Credit: Office of New York Attorney General Letitia James)

MINEOLA, N.Y. – Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman announced Wednesday in a press conference that he has filed a lawsuit against New York Attorney General Letitia James defending his transphobic executive order barring the Nassau County Department of Parks, Recreation, and Museums from issuing permits to any women’s or girls’ sports team with transgender players.

On March 1st, Attorney General James sent a order of cease and desist to Blakeman demanding that the Republican Nassau County Executive rescind his February 22 directive within five days or else face additional legal actions. 

“The law is perfectly clear: you cannot discriminate against a person because of their gender identity or expression. We have no room for hate or bigotry in New York,” the Attorney General wrote. “This executive order is transphobic and blatantly illegal. Nassau County must immediately rescind the order, or we will not hesitate to take decisive legal action.” 

In his filing in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, the Nassau County Executive argues that New York State Human Rights Law does not extend to transgender people. The suit also cites the 14th Amendment claiming the “cease and desist” letter issued by the Attorney General violates the U.S. Constitution’s “equal protection” clause, which is enshrined in the 14th Amendment.

According to the Office of the Attorney General: “Under New York law, it is illegal to discriminate against an individual based on their sex or gender identity or expression. In addition to violating basic civil and human rights, the executive order will impose undue increased scrutiny on women’s and girls’ teams and leagues and will also subject all athletes on women’s and girls’ sports teams to intrusive and invasive questioning and other verification requirements.”

Blakeman told reporters: “We don’t want 6-foot, 210-pound males competing against women and girls who are not that big, they’re not that strong. That’s an unfair competition. It’s dangerous. And we also don’t want biological males in the same locker rooms as biological females.”

When pressed by journalists Blakeman could not cite an instance of a transgender athlete trying to play on a female team in the Long Island county, instead referencing controversy other transgender athletes in other states and “interest” from constituents. He has insisted he is being proactive to prevent it from happening, WNBC 4 News reported.

“We’re taking action now because it’s happening around the country and we don’t want it to happen here,” he said. He argued the Attorney General’s actions to force him to rescind his order denies “biological females’ right to equal opportunities in athletics” as well as their “right to a safe playing field” by exposing them to increased risk of injury if they’re forced to compete against transgender women.

In a press release the James’ office noted: The executive order forces sports teams and leagues to make an unfair and unnecessary choice: openly discriminate against transgender women and girls in violation of state law, or find somewhere else to play. The executive order applies to more than 100 venues, including general playing fields in parks, baseball, football, and soccer fields, basketball and tennis courts, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, and ice rinks. This discriminatory order will not only impact Nassau County-based teams and leagues but will also undoubtedly deter teams from other counties from participating in Nassau County games and sporting events. 

David Kilmnick, PhD, a leading advocate within New York’s LGBTQ+ communities and the founder and President/CEO of the New York LGBT Network referred to Blakeman’s executive order as “just a complete waste of time and a political stunt.” In an interview with WNBC 4 Kilmnick called Blakeman’s actions illegal and dangerous. “We need to get real here: The bullying that is taking place is on trans youth.”

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NYPD seeks public’s assistance in homophobic hate crime assault

The NYPD has released surveillance footage of a number of the suspects and asked the public’s help identifying them and tracking them down



Photo Credit: New York Police Department

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Investigators with the New York Police Department’s Hate Crime Task Force are seeking four unidentified teen males responsible for a hate crime last February in Queens.

According to an NYPD spokesperson, the quartet of adolescents attacked two gay men on Broadway near 33 Street throwing hard objects at the men while yelling homophobic epithets and slurs. Detectives with the NYPD’s 114th precinct initially interviewed the two victims who stated that the teens began punching one of the victims a 36 year-old man repeatedly in the face, causing swelling and bruising.

On Sunday the NYPD released surveillance footage of a number of the suspects in the Feb. 8 hate crime and asked the public’s help identifying them and tracking them down.

The NYPD stated: Do you have information about this crime? Provide it to us anonymously and receive UP TO $3500 for a tip that leads to an arrest and indictment. Call 800-577-TIPS. Calls are CONFIDENTIAL! Or visit the website:

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Beverly Tillery leaving New York City Anti-Violence Project

“I am so proud of the work we have done over the last eight years, which have been some of the most difficult our community has experienced”



Beverly Tillery of the Anti-Violence Project. (Photo by Chris Tuttle)

NEW YORK CITY – After eight years of serving as executive director, Beverly Tillery announced on Tuesday that she will be leaving the New York-based Anti-Violence Project, America’s largest support and advocacy organization for LGBTQ survivors of violence.

“I am so proud of the work we have done over the last eight years, years which have been some of the most difficult our community has experienced in decades,” she said in a statement. Despite the steady increase in threats since the start of her tenure, Tillery said, “we helped our communities respond to the increases in hate violence attacks and came together with other targeted communities to protect each other.”

AVP Board Chair Stephanie K. Blackwood credited Tillery with helping to grow the group into “an organization that is poised for a national role,” recognized for its “model support services to survivors and their families, innovative policy and advocacy work and impactful community organizing.”

Recent advocacy work has included educating policymakers and leaders about the escalating threats and attacks against LGBTQ spaces, following the group’s issuance of its comprehensive survey and corresponding report titled, “Under Attack: 2022 LGBTQ+ Safe Spaces National Needs Assessment.”

Tillery spoke with the Washington Blade in October about AVP’s meetings with the White House, top officials at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, including Adm. Rachel Levine, assistant secretary for health, and congressional offices.

The group plans to begin the search for a new executive director next month. Tillery’s last day will be July 31.

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Exorcism of “any remaining evil spirits” after trans funeral urged

Gentili is the first out trans person & outspoken sex worker to have their funeral services at the Roman Catholic Cathedral of St. Patrick’s



Archbishop of the Archdiocese of New York, Cardinal Timothy Dolan celebrating a Mass inside St. Patrick's Cathedral in Mid-town Manhattan. (Photo Credit: Archdiocese of New York)

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Outraged reaction is building from some Catholics over the funeral services for Cecilia Gentili, a history-making trans activist, which were held at New York City’s historic St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Thursday.

It is believed that Gentili is the first out transgender person and outspoken sex worker to have their funeral services at the Roman Catholic Cathedral of St. Patrick’s, which has historically not been a friendly institution to the LGBTQ+ community.

The Catholic News Agency (CNA) reported the pastor of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City said the church has offered a Mass of Reparation after a controversial irreverent funeral service was held. Over 1400 mourners came to memorialize and honor Gentili at St. Patrick’s in the Midtown Manhattan neighborhood of New York City. It is the seat of the Archbishop of New York as well as a parish church.

CNA went on to misgender Gentili reporting that [Gentili] was a major fundraiser for transgender causes and was a man who identified as a woman.

CNA also noted that the queer organizers reportedly did not disclose to St. Patrick’s that Gentili, who died Feb. 6 at age 52, was a [biological man] who identified as a woman.

“I kept it under wraps,” Ceyeye Doroshow, the Gentili’s funeral services organizer, told The New York Times, CNA pointed out.

Throughout the liturgy, the presider, Father Edward Dougherty, referred to Gentili with feminine pronouns and described the trans-identifying man as “our sister,” CNA reported adding; Additionally, during the prayers of the faithful, the reader prayed for so-called gender-affirming health care, while attendees frequently and approvingly referred to Gentili as the “mother of whores.”

This past Saturday, Rev. Enrique Salvo, the Pastor of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, issued a statement:

“Thanks to so many who have let us know they share our outrage over the scandalous behavior at a funeral here at St. Patrick’s Cathedral earlier this week. The Cathedral only knew that family and friends were requesting a funeral Mass for a Catholic, and had no idea our welcome and prayer would be degraded in such a sacrilegious and deceptive way. That such a scandal occurred at “America’s Parish Church” makes it worse; that it took place as Lent was beginning, the annual forty–day struggle with the forces of sin and darkness, is a potent reminder of how much we need the prayer, reparation, repentance, grace, and mercy to which this holy season invites us. 

“At the Cardinal’s directive, we have offered an appropriate Mass of Reparation.”

New York journalist Joe Jervis reported the far-right Catholic site LifeSiteNews has launched a petition calling on Cardinal Timothy Dolan to hold an exorcism of “any remaining evil spirits” still hanging around St. Patrick’s since the funeral.

Online, the CatholicVote community of religious extremists posted to X (formerly Twitter):

Vehemently extremist anti-LGBTQ+ Catholic League head Bill Donohue raged:

“Gentili is a man who falsely claimed to be a woman. He was an illegal alien, a drug addict, prostitute, trans activist and atheist.

At the service, many of those in attendance dressed as hookers, danced in the aisles, sang “Ave Cecilia” when “Ave Maria” was sung, and shouted, “St. Cecilia, Mother Of All Whores.”

The presiding priest, Fr. Edward Dougherty, falsely declared Gentili to be a woman, referring to him as “our sister.” Fr. James Martin, an LGBT advocate, was delighted with the event, saying the trans activists are “as much a part of the church as anyone else.”

“Many are wondering how this profane service could have happened. It happened because it was held under false pretenses,” Donohue angrily posted.

Her funeral service was both somber and celebratory of Gentili’s lasting impact on the LGBTQ+ community in New York City and across the country, with mourners chanting “Cecilia” in her honor.


Gentili was a legendary organizer, author, advocate, performer, and community icon. As the founder of Transgender Equity consulting and a beloved mother to countless queer, trans, and immigrant individuals in New York City, her legacy endures on both systemic and personal levels.

The vibrant ceremony included a performance from actor Billy Porter and speeches from chosen family, including trans activists Ceyenne Doroshow, Liaam Winslet, and Gentili’s partner, Peter Scotto. Notably, celebrities in attendance included, Sara Ramirez, Indya Moore, Peppermint, Raquel Willis, Ryan McGinley, and more.

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Libs of TikTok angered over Kleenex® & Disney Pride sponsorship

Why do companies need to find every possible avenue to force this agenda? Because Satan wants evil to be normalized, & this agenda is evil



(Screenshot/YouTube Kleenex® Thailand)

BROOKLYN, N.Y – Perpetually outraged Libs of TikTok’s far-right anti-LGBTQ+ extremist creator Chaya Raichik expressed anger over a partnership between Kleenex® Brand and the Disney corporation for their Thailand Pride sponsorship.

Thailand Pride had occurred seven months previously in June of 2023, although apparently Raichik was just now made aware of that fact.

Both the Walt Disney Company and Kleenex® Brand’s parent company Kimberly-Clark foster a safe and welcoming environment for their LGBTQ+ employees as noted by the annual Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index (CEI).

Also leading the charge, the Independent Journal Review, a right-wing American news and opinion website based in Alexandria, Virginia which reported:

Disney seems to constantly believe it needs to be involved with the LGBTQ crowd, this time partnering up with Kleenex® to feature rainbow versions of Mickey and Minnie Mouse on tissue containers. The new collection was launched in a [Thai] commercial that featured footage from ‘pride’ parades where both men and women can be seen dressed scantily in public.

The IJR then noted:

Why is this the case? Why do these companies need to find every possible avenue they can to force this agenda on consumers — even if it hurts their business as it did with Bud Light Because Satan wants evil to be normalized, and this agenda is evil.

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Dozens protest Moms for Liberty Manhattan townhall event

The right-wing extremist group used their event to ramp up right-wing fears about transgender healthcare for minors & critical race theory



Defense of Democracy, a Moms for Liberty opposition group, and state and city lawmakers gathered outside in protest of the Moms for Liberty event at The Bohemian National Hall at 321 East 73rd Street on the Upper East Side of Manhattan January 18, 2024. (Photo by Joe Jervis)

NEW YORK – Dozens of protestors gathered in below freezing temperatures last night in mid-town behind NYPD-erected barricades in front of the Bohemian National Hall demonstrating against extremist group Moms for Liberty’s townhall event being held inside.

When the event was announced earlier this month it drew an angered response in opposition from the Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský,  U.S. Representative Jerry Nadler, a Democrat whose congressional district includes the Upper West Side, openly gay New York state Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal as well as countless hundreds of others.

Foreign Minister Lipavský, said: “I do not agree with the event, the activities of this organization do not correspond to the interests of Czech foreign policy, and if it were up to me, it would never have taken place on the grounds of the Czech national building.”

In a statement Rep. Nadler said: “Despite their catchy name, Moms for Liberty is nothing more than an alt-right hate group vilifying the LGBTQ+ community. There is no place for hatred or bigotry in New York, which is why I’m deeply troubled by their planned event on the Upper East Side. We cannot allow this fringe group to dictate what books are in our libraries or the version of our nation’s history that fits their preferred narrative.”

Media outlets reported that the anti-Moms for Liberty crowd chanted and held up signs, including ones that read, “Moms for Bigotry,” “Moms for Intolerance,” “Moms for White Supremacy,” and “Moms for Hypocrisy” — with the word “Liberty” crossed out in red.

Ukrainian-American journalist Oliya Scootercaster reported that disgraced former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s son Andrew attended the event with shouts of “Fuck you Andrew!” when he arrived as protesters heckled him entering Bohemian National Hall. “God bless Moms for Liberty!” Giuliani shouted back at them and as he departed he was met with the crowd chanting – “Fuck You Fascist.”

George Santos, who was expelled from the U.S. House after being accused by Federal prosecutors of a number of financial misdeeds, including reimbursing himself for loans to his congressional campaign that he appears to have never actually made — in essence, stealing money from campaign donors, was also in attendance at last night’s Moms for Liberty event.

Scootercaster reported that protesters shouted “Booooo!” as Santos left the townhall event.

Daily Beast’s senior political reporter Kate Briquelet tweeted images of the two men from inside the event:

New York City-based queer journalist and senior editor Joe Jervis documented the event, live-tweeting from in the crowd.

The Daily Beast reported:

Jamie Bauer, a Manhattan retiree who held a “Moms for Hypocrisy” sign, told The Daily Beast, “What they did in Florida they are not going to do here. We’re going to protect our teachers, administrators, and librarians from these bigots.”

The Moms for Liberty movement is also personal for Bauer, 65, who identifies as nonbinary. They grew up a queer kid in school without the support many NYC students enjoy today.

“I suffered because I didn’t have it growing up,” Bauer said. “I want to protect kids so they don’t have to go through what I went through.”

They were referring to students’ access to books, therapy, medical care, and the ability to ask questions.

Moms for Liberty got its start pushing back against COVID-era school policies in Florida in 2021 later expanding to over 400 chapters across the U.S. pushing anti-LGBTQ and racial book bans, trans outing policies, and other far right extremist policies.

In recent months the group has been plagued by scandals including a sex scandal in Florida by one of its co-founders and her husband, a chapter affiliated member in Tennessee being arrested for retail theft, and its chapter in Indiana which used Adolf Hitler’s quote “He who has the young generation wins the future” in one of its newsletters, as reported by the Associated Press.

Then, as first reported by The Philadelphia Inquirer, the Moms for Liberty Philadelphia chapter’s former faith-based outreach coordinator and a local pastor is also a convicted sex offender stemming from a 2012 felony conviction for aggravated sexual abuse of a 14-year-old boy in Illinois.

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NYC venue responds to Moms for Liberty debacle, will donate fee

The five story building is a mix of office and meeting spaces along with its famed Grand Ballroom and is owned by the Czech government



The Bohemian National Hall at 321 East 73rd Street on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Constructed between 1895 & 1897, it was a Czech American social and culture center in New York City. (Photo Credit: Czech government)

NEW YORK – Bohemian Benevolent and Literary Association president Joseph Balaz responded to the outrage generated by his organization leasing a meeting space to Moms for Liberty, a Southern Poverty Law Center listed extremist organization for an event on January 18.

In an online statement Balaz wrote:

“Dear Friends of BBLA, Supporters, and Neighbors,

I am taking this opportunity to communicate about an upcoming rental event involving an outside group known as Moms For Liberty.

For the past 130 years, BBLA has successfully supported Czech and Slovak heritage using the Bohemian National Hall as our cultural platform. Tens of thousands of people have enjoyed and appreciated the work done by our small staff and us, a group of enthusiastic volunteers running the various programs.

During the year, we occasionally rent space to other independent organizations, schools, companies, and concert promoters, with whom we have no affiliation. We have never had a mechanism in place to pre-screen event sponsors and never felt the need to do so.

Beginning of January, our staff rented one of our smaller rooms to a group called Moms for Liberty, for a three-hour window, and inadvertently stirred up quite a bit of controversy. I am sure you can appreciate that it feels like our peaceful existence was hit with a tornado when an avalanche of letters and calls commenting on the event started landing on us. Naturally, members of our community, as well as representatives of the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs (our partner in the building), were alarmed by the notoriety of the event.

Based on strong and thorough advice from our counsel, we concluded that we are not in any position to break the contract. Notably, some who initially reached out to us requesting that we cancel the event now strongly recommend we let it pass, thus not giving legitimacy to it by attempting cancellation. We are also very grateful to many of our regular visitors for their kind words throughout this and for their understanding.

We are a completely apolitical organization concentrating on cultural performances, and – this particular group clearly does not fit our strong non-political stance. Be aware that BBLA is neither organizing, hosting, nor supporting this specific rental event. Furthermore, as a first-generation immigrant who years ago escaped a dictatorship and absolute censorship, I am personally very sensitive to concepts like book banning, thought, and expression controls, and so on, which this highly politically charged turmoil around this event brings out.

I will personally match the rental fee BBLA received for this event, and this “double-sum” will be donated to one of our organizations which actively supports young, future leaders. I trust and hope that the leaders of the next generations will shape a world where personal freedoms, truth, freedom of expression, and dialogue will be unshaken.

On behalf of the Bohemian Benevolent and Literary Association, I thank you for your continuous support and for sharing your thoughts, ideas, and wisdom with us during these challenging days. We cannot wait to return to fulfilling our core mission of producing beautiful programs.”


When news broke of the rental space being leased to Moms for Liberty, Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský said: “I do not agree with the event, the activities of this organization do not correspond to the interests of Czech foreign policy, and if it were up to me, it would never have taken place on the grounds of the Czech national building.”

Gay City News’ editor-in-chief Matt Tracy noted:

A flyer for the event labels it as a “Giving Parents a Voice Town Hall,” hosted by co-founder Tiffany Justice. Confirmed names on the event are Mona Davids of New York City Parents Union; Charles Love and Maud Mauron of Community Education Council, District 2; Natalya Murakhver of Restore Childhood; Wai Wah Chin of the Chinese American Citizens Alliance of Greater New York; Corey DeAngelis of American Federation for Children; Nicholas Giordano of Suffolk County Community College; and Bilboard Chris.

Other Moms for Liberty events slated for the same week offer more insight into the group’s political priorities. A Jan. 16 meeting, for example, will focus on “gender ideology” and “how to defeat it,” while a Feb. 17 event scheduled to take place in Alabama will feature Riley Gaines, a former college athlete who once competed against out trans swimmer Lia Thomas and has since become one of the most vociferous anti-trans voices in the sports world.

Moms for Liberty did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Jan. 15.

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