This week in the Villages: Rocklanders show their pride in the face of anti-LGBTQ graffiti. Meanwhile, the search continues for a young activist and law student from Spring Valley. Plus, other local news, a weather prediction, a Covid update, upcoming meetings and much more. Thanks for being here
Bayard Rustin must have been agitating in his grave during this past weekend as we celebrated the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. with a national holiday.
Rustin, one of King’s most trusted aides and a brilliant organizer who helped pave the way for landmark civil rights legislation in the 1960s, also happened to be gay and once spent jail time for having sex with another man.
Last week, on Bayard Rustin Way in Nyack, someone vandalized the home of the Rockland County Pride Center, one of the lower Hudson Valley’s leading LGBTQ+ advocacy and support organizations, by scrawling the words “No Homo” underneath a large poster with the Pride Center’s 2022 slogan, “Fight for our future.”
For those unfamiliar with the phrase, “no homo”, it’s generally considered a homophobic term that became popular slang in the early 2000s.
Famous rappers, like Kanye West and Lil Wayne, have used the term in songs as both a way to punctuate a rhyme and as a caveat, according to LGBTQ Nation, “implying something along the lines of ‘I may have said something that sounds gay, but I am most definitely not gay.’”
The larger implication, of course, is that there is something wrong with being gay. It is hate speech.
In my day job as a high school teacher in the south Bronx, I remember “no homo” becoming a catchphrase a few years ago among boys who were being affectionate or vulnerable with each other. They would throw it in there to ward off any homosexual vibes that might accompany their affections. Whenever I heard it, I would address it immediately, letting students know the implications were homophobic and hurtful, whether they were meant that way or not.
I do the same when I hear students say things like, “that’s gay”, when they think something is stupid or wrong. (Ironically, a former student of mine who constantly said “that’s gay” in a derogatory way, has since come out as being gay.)
These days, I rarely hear “no homo” in classrooms or hallways. Now, if someone thinks you’re acting overly affectionate or “gay”, a student might say, “A-yooo!” Recently, I was told that the new term for acting gay is “zesty” during a tense conversation I had with a group of students who were defending famously proud homophobe and misogynist Andrew Tate, a vile social media influencer who now stands accused of rape and human trafficking in Romania.
All of these terms add up to homophobia and a lack of awareness, which fly in the face of the remarkable progress we’ve made in regard to LGBTQ+ rights over the past few decades since Rustin died in 1987.
In response to last week’s “graffiti attack”, the Rockland County Pride Center staged a well-attended rally here in Nyack on Sunday afternoon. County officials on the left and right condemned the vandalism and stood with pride center staffers and LGBTQ advocates.
In this polarized political climate, it was a welcomed show of unity behind a single issue. But it was also a reminder that, despite this show of unity, right-wing groups have rallied around anti-LGBTQ efforts in recent years.
Brooke Malloy, the Pride Center’s executive director, wanted people to look at the homophobic slur as a reminder of the larger conversation and fight. “This graffiti is merely a manifestation of the laws and legislation that is being passed on the national and statewide level,” she said.
Meanwhile, Republican County Executive Ed Day talked about the stupidity of the poorly scribbled hate speech, hinting that it could have simply been some drunken shenanigans.
Freshman Congressman Mike Lawler, a Republican who replaced Democrat Mondaire Jones, a gay black man, as Rockland’s only congressional representative, was clear about where he stood, even as he acknowledged that most of the crowd probably didn’t vote for him. Other local Tweeters remained skeptical.
Despite this show of solidarity and support, it is disturbing, disconcerting and disheartening that even in Nyack — the most diverse and LGBTQ friendly place in Rockland — anti-gay hatred not only exists, but it is written on the walls on Bayard Rustin Way.
Stay tuned and be in touch (email us at firstname.lastname@example.org) …
In other relevant news:
- Police have issued a missing persons alert for Jordan Taylor, a 29-year-old Spring Valley native who was living in Queens and attending the CUNY School of Law. According to Lohud, Taylor, a local activist and organizer in Rockland, was last seen on Jan. 6. Police recovered his cell phone, but no one has heard from him since.
- Village Hall Cafe by Salonniere — the new venture from our Italian coffee specializing friends at Salonierre (on South Broadway) that opened less than four months ago — closed Jan. 6 due to vague “lease issues”, according to Lohud’s indomitable foodie Jeanne Muchnick, (yet another strike against this cursed date!), owner Marcella Mazzeo. Seems weird. In a quick pivot for the former home of South Nyack’s actual village hall, the space will be turned over to the management of Michelle and Alejandro Pemberthy and become known as the Coffee Ride Cafe.
- Check out our latest Nyack Schools Report with notes from the January school Board meeting.
Quotes of the week
Video of the week: Celebrating Dr. King at Pilgrim Baptist Church in Nyack
ICYM NNV’s weekly features: Bill Batson’s latest “Nyack Sketch Log”; Mike Hays’ most recent “Nyack People & Places”; and our coverage in last week’s “The Villages”; Jessica Goodman’s latest Nyack Schools Report. If you haven’t read it yet, please check our vision for the future of Nyack News & Views and how you can help build our coverage and capacity.
Weather prediction (through 1/22)
Looking like temperatures in the mid-40s through the weekend with some sun poking through on Saturday and more rain on Sunday. [Click here for the National Weather Service‘s latest 7-day forecast for the Nyack area.]
Covid Update! (threat level: High)
According to CDC data of recent hospitalizations and cases, Rockland’s community threat level of Covid-19 remains considered “High.” With a high designation, the CDC recommends wearing masks indoors while in public and on public transportation. (CDC stats updated 1/4/23 — back on 12/4/22 the threat level was considered “medium”.)
- Here’s the list of all upcoming meetings posted for the Village of Nyack.
- If you could use help paying your water bills, click here.
- Drop off humanitarian aid for victims of the war in Ukraine (including first aid, painkillers, blankets, baby food, diapers, non-perishable food, antibiotics and more, at Village Hall, 9 N. Broadway (or at the Orangetown town hall, 26 W. Orangeburg Rd.).
- Click here for updates from the Village of Upper Nyack.
- Due to reader request, we have re-added South Nyack, which dissolved as an official village earlier this year. Please send us info about what’s going on in South Nyack at email@example.com.
- Check out the draft chapters of Orangetown’s new 2022 Comprehensive Plan.
- ICYMI: Here’s the official resolution Orangetown enacted with regards to the sale of two South Nyack properties, which appears to say the proceeds will go toward wiping out South Nyack’s debt, which is what South Nyack officials were lobbying for as the dissolution date approached.
- Help limit greenhouse gasses and curb pollution by joining this new food scraps recycling program.
- Check out the Orangetown YouTube channel.
- The Technical Advisory Committee, which “evaluates the technical adequacy of land development applications and decides their readiness for Planning Board review,” meets most Wednesdays, including this Wednesday, from 10 am to noon, in the town hall’s Historic Map Room.
- For a calendar list of all Clarkstown meetings and events, click here.
Other Local Updates
South Nyack advocates have filed a petition with the town of Orangetown seeking to show support for a new Elizabeth Place Playground — the grassy play area and dog park just south of 87 and right off the Esposito trail. After South Nyack dissolved in March, the town found the playground equipment at Elizabeth Place was unsafe and not compliant with ADA regulations and removed it. A new ADA compliant park has been proposed and advocates want to see the proposal approved and implemented. Click here to read and/or sign the petition.
- As we mentioned already, Nyack schools will be led by Susan Yom, starting in January.
- Check out our latest Nyack Schools Report, a new regular feature we will post bi-monthly.
- Find out what else is going on in Nyack-area schools at Home Page – Nyack Public Schools (nyackschools.org)
A rare polio case was recently discovered in Rockland County. Here’s some info on how to protect yourself:
- New Yorkers can pre-register for a free polio vaccination appointment here or call 845-238-1956 to schedule. Walk-ins will also be accepted.
- Vaccines are also available through local healthcare providers, including Federally Qualified Health Centers.
- For more information on polio including symptoms and spread, visit NYSDOH’s page here.
- New Yorkers can learn more about the polio vaccine available in the U.S. at CDC’s page here.
- The Reviving Rockland Restaurants Grant Program will reimburse businesses between $5,000 and $25,000 for past expenses or fund future expenses for eligible outdoor dining COVID-19 mitigation equipment. Eligible entities include restaurants, food stands, food trucks, bars, saloons, lounges, taverns, bakeries, delis, cafes, breweries, wineries, and other similar places of business. For more information and to download an application visit rocklandgov.com.
- Fill out this survey to help the county provide better digital services.
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