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Transcript: Mayor de Blasio Delivers Remarks at LGBT Pride Reception at Gracie Mansion

June 26, 2014

Chirlane McCray: Wow, good evening. This is what you call a rainbow! Hello and welcome to Gracie Mansion. This is the people’s house. This is your house, and you are always welcome here. Now, our family doesn’t actually live here yet, but we’re working on it. We hope to move in this summer, and we look forward to hosting many wonderful parties like this. Although, we might have to get a bigger place, Bill. I know the mayor is going to speak in a little while, but so much has happened in this last week that I really want to give him a special round of applause for what he’s accomplished in these last six months.

[Applause]

In addition to getting the budget done, we’ve got universal pre-K, we’ve got afterschool for our middle schoolers, we’ve got municipal IDs—I could go on all night. Give him another round of applause.

[Applause]

It is still so hard for me to believe that I’m standing here. You know, I came to New York in 1977. I wanted to work in the publishing industry, I wanted to write, and of course, I was looking for love. I was just 22 years old, I had 35 dollars in my pocket. And let me tell you, those first few months were just exhilarating and terrifying. Everything was big, and bright, and breathlessly fast, and I was such a country mouse. But I was lucky. I had some really good friends who lived here, and my New York friends took me in, they advised me, and they introduced me to gay NYC.

Now, in preparation for moving, I started to go through all my old stuff, and oh, the treasures I’m finding. You know, poetry, and memorabilia from past gay Pride parades and parties, I actually found a journal entry noting that I went to my first Salsa Soul Sisters meeting – 

[Cheers]

Yep, Salsa Soul members in the front row, hello, hello! I went to my first meeting with Yolanda, Yvonne, and Audre Lorde. That was a moment. I have newsletters, I have photos, I even have somewhere the membership card presented to me by the sisters of Salsa Soul. After I wrote the often-referred-to article in Essence magazine in 1975. Often. Often! I want you to know that the sisters of Salsa Soul stamped my membership card forever. What a celebration we had at that meeting.

The Salsa Soul, for those of you, some of you may not know, was an organization for lesbians of color. And it was a fascinating organization with so many remarkable women, and what I loved about it was that there were women, really, from all walks of life, in terms of class, and race, and it was fascinating. We didn’t call it ‘networking’ back then, but that’s what it was, and if I was looking for a woman who was gay and Black or Latina, or Asian, whatever, and worked as a financial consultant, or doctor, or carpenter, or chiropractor, whatever, you name it—all I had to do was put the word out, and I could find someone. That’s why I don’t buy it when people say it’s difficult for them to bring diversity into the ranks of their boards or businesses.

[Applause]

Thanks to a network that was based in a church basement, in the Village, in the 70’s, I could find diversity. So I know boards and big businesses with access to a world wide web of contacts can find it now.

Anyway, I will never forget the sisters of Salsa Soul, what I call my first New York family, and I am so glad that so many of them are here tonight. You can cheer!

[Cheers]

It’s been more than 35 years since I moved to New York, and things are so much better for the LGBT community. I know that if the pioneers of the gay movement could come back and see what has happened, they would be so proud. But I also know, they would not waste time patting themselves on the back.

He’s such a sweetheart, right? That’s why I married him. We still have so much work to do. And we are warriors. We don’t stop fighting until the victory is won. So that means securing marriage equality in every state in the country. That means speaking out against bigotry whenever and wherever it rears its ugly head. And that means never forgetting, not even for a second, that we are all members of one race—the human race.

[Applause]

It is now my pleasure to introduce two very dear friends, Cynthia Nixon and Christine Marinoni. Christine and Cynthia were early, early supporters in the mayoral campaign. I mean, when the poll numbers had us at four percent, they were in with us. Yes, let’s hear it for the early supporters.

[Applause]

They are both powerhouse activists in their own right, but when they join forces, they are downright unstoppable. Our friendship has only grown stronger since election day, and we are so lucky to have them working with us, helping us to bring the dreams of the campaign into reality. Christine is now an official member of the team. Her title is ‘Special Advisor for Community Partnerships’ at the Department of Education. That means she’s putting her expertise—her legendary expertise—and experience to work on behalf of all of our children. And Cynthia is one of our most knowledgeable and passionate ambassadors. Just a few days ago, she agreed to serve on the Board of Advisors for the Mayor’s Fund to Advance NYC. Isn’t that wonderful?

[Applause]

It is so great for New York that both of them are so deeply involved, and we are not going to be shy about putting them both to work. So Cynthia and Christine, would you please come up and share a few words? Thank you all. 

[Christine Marinoni delivers remarks]

[Cynthia Nixon delivers remarks]

Mayor Bill de Blasio: Thank you so much. Thank you very much, everyone. This is an incredibly exciting evening, and to have everyone here together, marking the passion, the energy, the activism that has led to the victories you heard about. I want to say—I want to talk about—the individuals here, but I want to set one thing straight, because I think you have to understand, all of us have to understand history. Well, not set it straight—we will make it correct.

[Laughter]

I’d like to say something correctly. People get elected, and they take actions, people are leaders. But the real energy, the real change in this world, comes from the grassroots. Let’s start with that.

[Cheers]

And the victories that we have been talking about this evening, the changes we’re making for our people, happen because people here, tonight, fought for them for years and you finally won and God bless you for that.

[Applause]

Alright, I’ve got to talk about some people. And I’m going to keep it quick, but I’ve got to talk about some people. So, Christine Marinoni—if you have not fallen under her spell yet, and you have not been organized by her, and told what the right thing to do is, and find yourself suddenly doing it—well, you’re in for a treat. Christine Marinoni—I first met her as an education activist. I saw that whatever she touched, things happened. Energy happened. People moved forward. And she was an incredible force in our campaign, doing what some thought impossible. And now she’s doing something absolutely necessary for the City of New York—she’s on the front line of making sure we have full-day pre-K for every child in this city.

[Applause]

Cynthia Nixon, I don’t understand something about Cynthia Nixon—she could just go and do that…acting thing all day, she’s very good at it, apparently, and you could never see her any place else and everyone would think that was normal, but she insists on being an activist on a whole range of issues. And then, 2012, 2013 came along, and she literally didn’t have—there was no setting to Cynthia Nixon for the notion of ‘I’m going to be involved just a little,’ or ‘I’m going to hedge my bets.’ The phrase, ‘all in,’ is defined by Cynthia Nixon, and she said, we’re going to win, and she willed it to be so, and I can’t thank you enough and I can’t thank Christine enough.

And then, let’s talk about Chirlane McCray. How could I not fall in love with Chirlane McCray? You just saw her! I say to everyone, I met her one day at City Hall, there were violins playing, a thunderbolt hit me, I heard angels singing—I did not ask her for an identification card. I just fell in love with her. Guess what, it all worked out. But she’s an extraordinary leader, and she’s someone who from the first moment she came to this city, she wanted to make it better. She wanted to uplift people. She wanted to energize people, organize people, represent those who weren’t being heard. Now, she has a little bit bigger platform for doing that, and she is going to redefine what a first lady is in this city and do extraordinary things for all of us.

[Applause]

Let me talk about some of the wonderful members of our administration here, I’m going to just list them all out and you can clap for them all together. First of all, I did not know we had a new title for Emma Wolfe: ‘Power Lesbian’ and subtitle, ‘Director of the Mayor’s Office of Intergovernmental Affairs.’ I want to thank our probation commissioner, Ana Bermudez, our aging commissioner, Donna Corrado, our citywide administrative services commissioner, Stacy Cumberbatch, our president of the economic development corporation, Kyle Kimball, and the CEO of NYC and Company, Fred Dickson.

[Applause]

I think we should have a word from our sponsors, don’t you? Let’s, you know, all this wonderful food and drink doesn’t just happen, so let’s thank the people who supported this event and made it happen. Let’s thank TD Bank. Let’s thank leaders in our ever-stronger film and television industry, Broadway Stages. And everyone in this audience looks fabulous, which means you are probably already using Kiehl’s products, and let’s thank them for being a sponsor tonight.

[Applause]

I know what you’re thinking: but Bill, what kind of entertainment have you provided? Well, we provided a DJ Mary Mack, it doesn’t get better than that. Come on, take your star turn!

[Applause]

You know, I said to DJ Mary Mack: couldn’t you get a few more tattoos on your arms? You’d be hipper if you did. From the labor movement to international union presidents, Randi Weingarten and Stuart Appelbaum, thank them for being here. We had a great leader in this city here before, she had to go on to other things, but she was here, with energy and passion, our Public Advocate Tish James. From the State Senate, Brad Hoylman, Liz Krueger, and Gustavo Rivera. From the New York State Assembly, Daniel O’Donnell and Deborah Glick. From the New York City Council, Rosie Mendez, Corey Johnson, Jimmy Van Bramer, Danny Dromm, Carlos Menchaca, and Ritchie Torres.

[Applause]

That was like the beginning of Saturday Night Live, it was so jazzed up. Everyone liked everyone.
This celebration kicks off a big weekend, a big moment each year for all of us. Something very cool this year—City Hall reached out to City agencies, we said, ‘If you like, it’s a very special weekend in New York City, you can take your New York City logo, your agency logo, and you could paint it rainbow.’ So go check out your favorite agencies with their new look logo.

And we look forward to the parade. The Brooklyn parade happened already because we’re always ahead of things in Brooklyn, but the Pride parade means so much to all of us, it means so much to our family. If you were there last year, and you saw Chiara de Blasio’s sequined dress, you will not forget it. It was one of the high points of the parade. But our family celebrates Pride, because it is part of being a New Yorker, embracing all of us to celebrate Pride. It is quintessentially New York to celebrate Pride.

[Applause]

And yes, it’s fun, and yes, it’s energetic and it’s social, but let’s remember, we all know: it was born in struggle. It marks a history of struggle, going back to 1969 at the Stonewall Inn. And that spirit, of not accepting exclusion, of not accepting second-class citizenship, that spirit has to be alive every single day until the mission is done.

So Pride is, by definition, a celebration. And Pride has to be a reenergizing moment. It has to be a moment when we sign up again for another year of fighting what’s right. Now, you heard from Chirlane and Cynthia and Christine, the victories. You know, if you step back and think about it for a moment, you could be really, really pleased –anyone would have to be pleased – just the progress on marriage equality alone be enough to like – all of us could retire on that alone.

[Applause]

And it’s been fast and it’s been breathtaking, but again, it was decades in the making. And as amazing as it is, there’s still more states that don’t have it than have it. So it’s that same duality: so much progress, so much to do. Use the moment to refocus us. Marriage equality has to be everywhere in the United States of America – period.

[Applause]

The commitment to fighting anti-LGBT violence has to be everywhere in this country.

[Applause]

I know the Congress isn’t so interested in mundane things like legislating lately, but if they were legislating, they would be passing a national law protecting LGBT people from discrimination all over this country.

[Applause]

And so, as in so many other situations, we in New York City – in other cities around the country, in other states – we have to show how it’s done. We have to lead the way. We have to paint the picture. Our victories will become infectious and energizing. We will create a positive inevitability by what we do. And here in New York City, after the years and years – I can’t tell you how many times I was told we couldn’t get more funding for runaway and homeless youth. That it would never rise to a priority. I’ll tell you why it needs to be a priority. Because a lot of these kids have been put out of their own house by their own family, and that is unacceptable. And we don’t leave them on the streets.

[Applause]

I’ve spoken about this as a parent. I don’t understand any parent – I don’t care what values they happen to have been brought up with – I don’t understand any parent who would treat their own child that way instead of embracing them and loving them, and including them and respecting them. So sometimes we have to do it if a family won’t do it. We have to save those children and uplift those children.

[Applause]

And yes, yes, I was told many times that a 30 percent rent-cap for people with HIV and AIDS was impossible to pass in Albany. Nothing is impossible if you organize people to get it done. And a lot of people in this room never stopped organizing, and now it’s done.

[Applause]

So I’m ready – I’m ready to go forward, are you ready to go forward?

[Cheers: yes!]

I’m sorry, I can’t hear you, are you ready to go forward? 
  
[Cheers: yes!]

Much better. I’ll finish with this, which I think everyone standing around me here understands. I think everyone out there understands. A great, great New Yorker who wrote about LGBT life when it was still a profoundly revolutionary thing to do, James Baldwin.

[Applause]

James Baldwin said a simple phrase that describes everything we just talked about tonight. He said, ‘Those who say it can’t be done are usually interrupted by others doing it.’ And so, we move forward together. Thank you and God bless you.

 

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