Queens Daily Eagle: Anti-LGBTQ+ agitators protest Jackson Heights block party

Queens Daily Eagle: Anti-LGBTQ+ agitators protest Jackson Heights block party | September 2022: A block party celebrating Queens’ LGBTQ+ community was interrupted Saturday by a group of anti-LGBTQ+ agitators in Jackson Heights. 

But despite several tense moments between the agitators, block party participants and a number of elected officials in attendance, organizers of the event say the protesters did little but bring the party’s participants closer together. 

The Autumn Outfest, the first such festival created in part by Queens Community House’s Generation Q, was planned as an all day festival to “create space where people can be authentic,” said Julia Peitzer, the assistant director of Generation Q. The block party also hosted over two dozen organizations, which shared resources with people in the neighborhood who may need them. 

“It was also to provide a good time,” Peitzer told the Eagle. 

And by most accounts, that’s what happened. 

However, around mid-day, a group of around a dozen anti-LGBTQ protesters began picketing the block party, which also featured the group Drag Story Hour, an organization that has recently received disturbing threats and has drawn rebuke from Republican lawmakers, including one in Queens.

Videos of the incident shared on social media show a number of the protesters holding signs that said, “stop grooming kids for sex,” and chanting, “leave our kids alone.” As they protested, a number of lawmakers, including Queens Borough President Donovan Richards and State Senator Jessica Ramos, stood in front of them and condemned their message. 

“There is nothing that you can scream and say that will undo what we built here,” Richards said. 

At several points, anti-LGBTQ protesters stood face-to-face with at least two of the elected officials in attendance.

“We want to build a bigot-free neighborhood and a bigot-free Queens,” Ramos said on Saturday. “And that will only ever be possible through love.”

Peitzer, who leads the QCH program that aims to offer support and resources to LGBTQ+ youth and young adults, said that while the agitation was alarming, it also proves the need for her and her colleague’s work. 

“Discrimination is still real – that's part of what my program works to address,” she said. “My program, and by proxy, this block party is, by design, creating an affirming space for people to exist in.”

“The level of robust hatred that comes from some people who simply don't want us to exist, who would be very happy if we simply died, the level of hatred – that is combated by love, and I think we really saw that in the event,” she added. “One of the slogans we had going for the day was, ‘Love is louder than hate,’ and I really think we showed that on Saturday.”

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