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NYC Is A Welcoming Place For The LGBTQ+ Community
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NYC Is A Welcoming Place For The LGBTQ+ Community

January 21, 2020 | PBAT MAGAZINE

By Yaroslava Kyselia, Richard Rios, Mayra Vivas De La Cruz & Tiffany Zheng

"Over there it felt like I’m sick, like I have a mental disease, and when I came to New York it finally felt that I have a chance for a normal life,” said Nicole, a lesbian woman originally from Russia, now living in New York.


She had agreed to meet me for an interview to talk about her experiences. It was a Sunday when we met in a small cafe in Queens. I came a bit earlier to prepare for the meeting. Outside the window, the sky was tar-black and the large clouds were moving towards me. I heard a tapping on the window and then it became a pitter-patter. As rain starts to fall, Nicole came to the shop in wet clothes, her umbrella having broke on the way here. She looked tired and sick. Sitting on the opposite side from me, she asked the waiter for a cup of coffee and a sandwich. We sat pretty much silent for a while. After taking a bite from the sandwich she was finally ready to tell her story.


“Originally I am from Russia, from a poor religious family. My childhood was quite difficult. Everyday I came from school they forces me to pray.” She breath tiredly and then started describing how it was when she was in the eleventh grade that she met a tenth grade girl. She and her classmate went to do an announcement about Valentine’s Day party. “Then one of my friends made a joke about how she looks and everyone started to laugh.” She told me that, it was funny for them in this time, but now looking back at the whole situation it all seems stupid. 

At this moment Nicole starts to smile as she describes what happened next. “After the next two months I can't sleep, I close my eyes and saw her face. I started to leave for her small presents, compliment her, accompany her to her house.” Soon they became friends. Nicole continued, “When I was at home and me and my mother watch tv-show and saw gay people.” Mother would always very loudly express her feeling about gay people, saying things like, ‘What a faggot, sick bitch’.” Nicole laments, “and you know when you hear the same word each time, you start to feel like this. I never tell the girl that I like her because I knew that I was not in the country where I can say that I’m lesbian.” She stopped for a second, take a deep breath and continued. “It will cause a lot of bad things and most importantly, people can kill you.“ 

Then, one day it all changed. Someone starting spreading the rumor that Nicole was a lesbian because most of time she spent with the girl. “I was openly called by the teachers 'lesbian whore' and other offensive words, and those rumors came to my parents. You know how difficult it is when everyone beats on you every day.” It was so difficult to listen to her, I was very sad. I felt like there was no other sound, no other people. Nicole touched her hair and continued in more happy voice. “In the 12th grade I won a grant for studying at New York University, and in August of that year I was here. In college I found people with similar stories, I found company, and most importantly, I found my girlfriend. New York is a place where I finally felt happy, this city showed me that it normal to love someone with same sex. I found here support and love.”


New York City's Empire State Building in Rainbow Colors 


New York City & LGBTQ+

This is the story of one woman who is being LGBTQ+ and feel safe and secure. Through the article we are going to present a story on very different people who considered NYC is a better place for LGBTQ+, while in other places around the world many are still worried about safety and equality. New York’s relationship with the LGBTQ+ community was a very complicated and difficult history, from homophobic protests to being one of most supportive cities in the US. New York City is a diverse state where you can find all kinds of people of different races, languages, cultures, and even different gender identities. You can feel part of who you are in New York City. New York City in a data collected in 2018 demonstrates that it is one of the biggest city with a big population same as LGBTQ+ population compared to its country United States. 


LGBTQ Population in the U.S.


New York State Populations, 2018



According to the article “New York City Receives True Perfect Score for LGBT Inclusivity by Human Rights Campaign 5th Year in a Row” published October 17, 2016. This score is determined by examining the laws, policies, and services of municipalities and rates of different states depending on the basis of their inclusivity of LGBT people who live and work there. 

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New York LGBTQ+ Population, 2018

Treatment of LGBTQ+ in Close Countries

Contrarily, “Mexico was one of the first countries to legalize gay marriage, which is something vey interesting because although Mexico was one of the first countries to legalize gay marriage, Mexico is still a very discriminatory country towards the gay community,” shared with us Osbani, an LGBTQ+ alumni of The Flushing International High School. He is now working in an International High school as a teacher. He explains, “We live in New York, we have a very open city in terms of culture, in terms of society, and in terms of community also, and religions” while doing the interview. What called our interest is when he said “I feel more safe being part of the gay community in New York City than the southern part of United States.”

How Other "Native" Countries View LGBTQ+

Down below we mention other countries, especially we targeting our native countries. China, Ukraine and the countries of Latin America we know how the situation is there because we lived there. 

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LGBTQ+ Acceptance Poll in Many Countries

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Laws Policies and Practices Negatively Affecting LGBTQ+, 2018


In this data we see there are many countries not accepting LGBTQ+ people. In China, most people do not accept homosexuality. China are overwhelmingly non-religious and also vehemently anti-gay. According to all data and map about LGBTQ+,Ukraine, (native country) isn't the worst place to be LGBTQ+ person. “Those closer to 0 percent are considered worst for gross violations of human rights and discrimination while the other end of the scale respects human rights and full equality.”


But a lot stuff happened behind the scene according to the LGBT Human Rights Nash Mir Center. “In 2019, the activity of the Ukrainian LGBT community increasingly carried on, but aggressive pressure on it from the far-right nationalist groups did not accordingly decrease. The police quite effectively provided protection for LGBT public actions, but no improvement in investigating hate crimes against LGBTs was recorded. The Ukrainian authorities and politicians in 2019 were focused on the election campaign and the elections that forced them to distance themselves from LGBT issues. They have not done anything to further the implementation of the LGBT components of the Action Plan on Human Rights.” Behind there is a map that shows the South America continent map with Latinos countries that mention the more and less LGBTQ+ friendly countries inform CNN.  


CNN, 2019

According to Colombia Diversa website, in Colombia, Gay men and transgender people were the main victims of the homicides. 110 LGBT people murdered in 2015. This is the highest number of homicides registered since 2012. 54% of the homicides were motivated by prejudices against the sexual orientation of the victims, that is, 1 in two women was killed because she was a lesbian. When the victim is a lesbian, bisexual or transgender woman, gender violence is articulated to violence motivated by prejudice towards sexual orientation or gender identity. 9 homicides of LGBT human rights defenders in 2015. 

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Among them we find homosexual women, transgender or union leaders and representatives of victims of the armed conflict. Half of the crimes were related to the victim's work because 1, they occurred in municipalities where there were armed actors, 2. they were working with sectors widely affected by the armed conflict, such as union members and victims' associations or 3, they had been threatened by their work. According to data what can be seen above and over investigation US and New York in particular have been more LGBTQ+ friendly. 


Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission

Since the Obergfell case, gay people have still faced problems of inequity. For example there are many businesses that refuse to serve gay customers. In 2018, there was another Supreme Court case called Masterpiece Cake v. Colorado. In the case, Charlie Craig and David Mullins a same-sex couple wanted to buy a custom wedding cake and came to the Masterpiece Cake store, but the owner refused because he thinks making a cake is his freedom of expression and his belief in religion tells him to not make the cake. After the store discriminated against them, Charlie Craig and David Mullins sued the cake shop and the case went all the way up to the Supreme Court where the Court ruled in a 7-2 decision that even though according to law and constitution same-sex people we should protecting the rights of every citizen, the state of Colorado was incorrect in denying the baker his freedoms and discriminating him because of his religion. But this problem not solve because the court also stated that these people did not give him faith in religion and the committee is hostile to Phillip. Then court explanation commissioner's comments vilified his religion, then court no fair verdict given and the State does not assume an obligation to hostile to religion or religious views as the basis of law. All the judges have agreed to  give Phillip neutral treatment.


U.S. & LGBTQ+ Timeline


NY Laws

The Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act, effective January 16, 2003, makes it illegal for anyone in New York State to be discriminated against in employment, housing, credit, education, and public accommodation because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation. Passage of New York’s Hate Crimes Act in 2000, Legislature confirms in investigation that hate crimes can threaten and destroy entire communities. Hate crimes have been expanded to include actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and disability by victims.  In the hate crimes against gay male (26.1%), hate crime reports show that 20.6% against homosexuality. Prejudice against LGBT, the largest type of prejudice: 103 people (36.8%) report. This was followed by race / origin, with 88 incidents (31.4%) and 83 religious incidents (29.6%).

New York’s Marriage Equality Act of 2011 also gives same-sex couples the right to marry in New York state and provides them the same rights, responsibilities, and benefits under state and local law enjoyed by opposite-sex couples. All same-sex marriages must have a marriage equality law, and all staff should issue them marriage certificates. In 2011-2012 same-sex marriages have 12,285 in the New York. New York, America’s most populated city, has the largest number of same-sex marriages in the U.S. at 13,982 which is (0.84 percent) in New York.


NYU Survey Results, 2019


For our investigation we conducted a survey where we asked respondents one simple question, “Is New York city a safe place for LGBTQ+?” We came to Washington Square Park near New York University and randomly surveyed people. This chart as we can see that most people (Man and Women) respond that New York is a safe place.  We ask 41 Man among them 24 say Yes and 17 No. 51 Women respond to our question 31 say Yes and 22 says No. Five of these people didn't respond, because of religion purpose or any other ethic reasons.


The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center

208 W 13th St, New York, NY 10011


Located in Flushing, NY, Anthony J. Lemma, while sitting in his chair across a table in front of U.S. and Congresswomen flag started sharing his words in a serious and a little tense way. “Discrimination against the LGBTQ+ is something else that it is real, that exist, that continues to exist even in progressive cities most places like ours, it exist.” He said, “Congresswomen is being supportive for same sex marriage, the staff here is as well,” adding that “We work with LGBTQ+ advocates all the time in and around our district.” His eyes demonstrated that it was not enough to finish his speech, so he added what they do to support the LGBTQ+ community, “We actively look to support candidates who offer that community to run for office, so more LGBTQ+ voices are heard in government, within the city, state, or federal level and we do all we can to support whether is to legislation, whether it is to amplify messages, rallies and parades.”  

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Anthony J. Lemma, District Director of Congresswoman Meng in Flushing, NY

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