Party crowd on the pier was hardly garden variety


Interviews By Cathy Jedruczek

Photos by Elisabeth Robert

There was a lot of pride in the air at this year’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Center’s Garden Party on Pier 54 in the Hudson River Park. The Center kicked off Pride Week on Monday with their annual fundraiser where people had an opportunity to mingle, savor some fine food and enjoy entertainment. Numerous politicians took the stage to greet the thousands of people at the event and voice their support in the ongoing struggle for gay rights. Partygoers enjoyed perfect weather on the pier and hoped that next year there’ll be even more reasons to celebrate gay pride.

Gordon Kahn (right), lives on the Upper West Side with his partner Ed Galloway and their three children, Harry, Joanie, Lillie: “Gay pride is a wonderful validation of our family. Here we are enjoying being together as part of gay community and as part of the New York City community. We made so many steps forward and we are anxious to continue making steps forward.”

Elizabeth Franqui (left) and Shantih Clemans; Franqui: “My first Gay Pride was in 1982. That year I got kicked out of the Marine Corps [for being a lesbian]. Since that time the gay community has made a lot of progress. The Garden Party used to be one block. Here we are at the new location and we have the whole pier…. We have to pick our fights and we have to pick them better. Our time will come.” Clemans: “It is a very exciting time for gay rights and we are much more in the spotlight. We are moving forward despite some recent setbacks.”

Countess Noche, drag performer: “This is a celebration of freedom for the gay community. It allows us to express ourselves without barriers.”

William Thompson, city comptroller: “It is important for me to be here on many different levels. The Center itself is a huge fundraiser. I have a lot of friends at the Center. It is also important what this event has become. This week is a time of solidarity and it is an opportunity to get together. This has been a year of advances and setbacks. Now it is a question of consolidating gains and moving forward.”

Margarita Lopez, city councilmember, speaking on the stage: “Did you see Kate Clinton kissing me? I’m in heaven. I am delighted to be here and I am sad because this is my last year in the City Council. I am happy where I am going and I am happy that I will be with you where I am going and that you will be with me. I am counting on your support…. Do you know that with one Margarita you can do anything?”

Eliot Spitzer, New York State attorney general: Speaking on stage: “What a spectacular event. What a great way to start Gay Pride Week. Your efforts are so incredibly important. All the elected officials could not succeed without your support and your leadership. Like any other civil right movements, gay rights begins with a public movement and a grassroots effort…. You’re the ones who do the hard work. I will continue to be supportive of you. I am here and other politicians are here to make sure that gay rights get expanded.”

Gifford Miller, city council speaker: “This is a week of celebration for the Center and the gay community, a community which does wonderful things. There’s a lot of great New Yorkers here today. I am definitely going to the parade. It is always a lot of fun.”