NYC MAYOR ADAMS CAMPAIGN AGAINST “DON’T SAY GAY” LAW

“Don’t Say Gay.” It’s the new Florida law drawing intense national scrutiny, that bars instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity in kindergarten through third grade. Proponents contend it will protect parents and their right to “send their kids to school to get an education, not an indoctrination.” Across the United States, at least a dozen states are considering new legislation that in several ways will mirror Florida’s new controversial law. But to opponents, like New York Mayor Eric Adams says it is no more than a “targeted attack on the LGBTQ+ population.” And in the city where the Stonewall Inn riots ignited what many consider to be the birth of the modern LGBTQ+ rights movement, that has long voiced its support for that community, Mayor Adams wants its message to be heard loud and clear. He is wallpapering the Sunshine State with digital billboards espousing New York City’s staunch opposition to the law. He’s also inviting members of Florida’s LGBTQ community to come to New York. Tonight, New York City council member and part of the LGBTQ caucus, Chi Ossé joins us.

TRANSCRIPT

> GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M JACK FORD.

IN A MOVE FACING OPPOSITION DOWN SOUTH, NEW YORK CITY IS ROLLING OUT DIGITAL BILLBOARDS IN FLORIDA DENOUNCING STATE'S DON'T SAY GAY LAW.

THE BILLBOARDS INCLUDE THE MESSAGES COME TO THE CITY WHERE YOU CAN SAY WHATEVER YOU WANT AND ALSO LOUD, PROUD AND STILL ALLOWED.

THE ADS IN RESPONSE TO FLORIDA'S PARENTAL RIGHTS IN EDUCATION LAW WHICH BANS INSTRUCTION ON GENDER IDENTITY AND SEXUAL INSTRUCTION.

IT IS DRAWING PRAISE FROM MANY INCLUDING OUR NEXT GUEST CITY COUNCIL MEMBER, ONE OF THE YOUNGEST COUNCIL MEMBERS EVER.

OSAY IS PART OF THE LGBT CAUCUS AND HE'S NOT SHIED AWAY FROM CRITICIZING THE MAYOR OVER OTHER ISSUES IMPACTING THE LGBTQ COMMUNITY AND WE'RE DELIGHTED TO HAVE HIM WITH US.

COUNCIL MEMBER, THANKS FOR JOINING US.

THANK YOU, JACK.

I'M EXCITED TO BE HERE.

LET'S START WITH THE NOTION OF DIGITAL BILLBOARDS.

WHAT DID YOU THINK ABOUT IT WHEN YOU FIRST HEARD ABOUT IT?

I THINK AS A YOUNG QUEER PERSON HEARING THE DRACONIAN LAWS, THE DRACONIAN LAW THAT WAS PASSED IN FLORIDA REALLY SCARCE ME, NOT JUST AS AN INDIVIDUAL, BUT FOR OTHER YOUNG LGBTQ+ PEOPLE THAT LIVE IN THE STATE OF FLORIDA.

WHEN I HEARD ABOUT THIS IDEA AND ALSO UNDERSTOOD THAT WHEN IT COSTS TAXPAYER DOLLARS HERE IN NEW YORK CITY A PENNY, I REALLY DID THINK IT WAS A GOOD IDEA AND SOMETHING THAT I THINK NEW YORK CITY AS ONE OF THE YEAR CAPITALS OF THE WORLD, I SHOULD HAVE DONE IN RESPONSE TO RON DESANTIS' LAW.

DO YOU THINK IT'S MORE THAN JUST SYMBOLIC OR IS BEING SYMBOLIC ENOUGH HERE?

I THINK IT'S A LITTLE MORE THAN JUST SYMBOLIC.

I THINK WHEN AGAIN, YOUNG YEAR PEOPLE WILL SEE THAT THERE IS A SAFE PLACE, LIKE NEW YORK CITY CHA IS CALLING FOR THEM TO COME WHICH MANY YOUNG YEAR PEOPLE DO ACROSS THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, I REALLY DO THINK IT MEANS SOMETHING AND I THINK IT WILL PROVIDE SOME SORT OF EXTRA SPARK FOR THOSE INDIVIDUALS, SOME TIME IN THEIR LIVES TO COME TO NEW YORK CITY WHERE I ULTIMATELY THINK THAT THEY CAN BE THEMSELVES.

HOWEVER, I WILL SAY THAT IT IS LARGELY SYMBOLIC.

I THINK THERE'S A LOT MORE WORK THAT NEEDS TO BE DONE HERE IN NEW YORK CITY IN TERMS OF PROTECTING AND UPLIFTING YEAR PEOPLE, BUT I DO BELIEVE THAT, YOU KNOW, THERE IS AN OUNCE OF GREATNESS TO THESE BILLBOARDS THAT ARE BEING BUILT.

LET ME ASK YOU ABOUT SOME OF THE COMMENTS THAT ARE BEING MADE IN SUPPORT OF THIS AND GET YOUR RESPONSE TO THEM.

YOU MENTIONED GOVERNOR DESANTIS AND WE KNOW THAT GOVERNOR DESANTIS AND HE HAS SUPPORTERS THAT ARE NOT SUPPORTING HIM AND HE'S CLEARLY STAKING OUT POSITIONS IN WHAT HAVE BEEN REFERRED TO AS THE CULTURE WARS.

THAT'S WHAT HE'S DOING.

AGAIN, SOME PEOPLE MIGHT APPRECIATE THAT AND SOME PEOPLE DON'T.

HE HAS SAID, HIS WORDS, WE WILL MAKE SURE THAT PARENTS CAN SEND THEIR KIDS TO SCHOOL TO GET AN EDUCATION AND NOT AN INDOCTRINATION.

WE'VE HEARD FROM OTHER REPUBLICANS IN FLORIDA WHO SAY, LOOK, WE'RE NOT TARGETING ANY ONE GROUP AND THEIR COMMENTS IS THEY'RE PROTECTING CHILDREN FROM AGE INAPPROPRIATE SEXUAL DISCUSSIONS AND ANY SEXUAL DISCUSSIONS THEY SAY IN THE CLASSROOM.

SO LET'S START WITH THAT.

THOSE SAYING WE'RE NOT TARGETING LGBT COMMUNITY, IT'S JUST NOT THE RIGHT AGE.

WHAT'S YOUR RESPONSE TO THAT?

MY RESPONSE IS EVEN GREATER THAN GOVERNOR RON DESANTIS AND IT SPEAKS TO THE REPUBLICAN PARTY AS A WHOLE.

THE REPUBLICAN PARTY STAGED A COUP OR ATTEMPTED TO STAGE A COUP AT THE UNITED STATES CAPITOL ON JANUARY 6th OF 2021 AND EVER SINCE THEN THEY'VE DONE A GOOD JOB AT STEERING AWAY FROM THE HORRIFIC ACTS THAT THEY'VE DONE AGAINST OUR DEMOCRACY AND CREATING NOISE OVER SOME OF THE THINGS THAT REPUBLICANS HATE THE MOST.

CRITICAL RACE THEORY, BLACK PEOPLE.

THE DON'T SAY GAY BILL, TRANS PEOPLE AND BANNING ABORTIONS, SO THIS IS ALL A DISTRACTION FROM THE HORRIFIC, AGAIN, ACCENT THE REPUBLICAN PARTY PARTICIPATED IN AND DEFENDED ON JANUARY 6th.

I THINK IT'S LESS ABOUT THEIR DISTASTE FOR QUEER IDENTITY THAT MAY BE CONTRADICTORY TO THE RELIGIOUS BELIEFS AND DISTRACTING AND STEERING US AWAY AND FEAR MONGERING THE ELECTORATE AS MID TERMS ARE COMING ALONG.

LET ME MOVE FROM THE REPUBLICAN DOGMA AND THE COMMENTS FROM SOME REPUBLICANS AND WE'RE NOT SAYING THAT EVERY REPUBLICAN FEELS THIS WAY, AND LET ME ASK A MORE DIFFICULT QUESTION.

SUPPOSE A PARENT COMES UP TO YOU AND SAYS I SUPPORT THE LGBTQ COMMUNITY, I'M INVESTED IN IT AND AS A PARENT I'M NOT COMFORTABLE HAVING A YOUNG CHILD LEARN ABOUT ANY OF THIS, ANY SEXUAL-RELATED QUESTIONS AT THAT AGE.

WHAT'S THE RESPONSE TO THAT CONCERN?

IT ISN'T SEXUAL RELATED.

IT'S ABOUT IDENTITY.

I THINK WE HAVE A HISTORY LOOKING THROUGH THE LENS OF STRAIGHT COUPLES TEASING THEIR YOUNG KIDS ABOUT BEING BOYFRIEND AND GIRLFRIEND WHICH IS WILDLY INAPPROPRIATE.

SOME OF THESE BOOKS AND SOME OF THESE TEACHINGS AREN'T RELATED TO SEX AND IT'S ABOUT IDENTITY, YEAR LIBERATION AND BEING COMFORTABLE IN ONE'S SKIN, AND I THINK AGAIN, THE ESSENCE OF FEAR AND HOW IT'S BEEN MONTH SRDZ MONGERED THROUGH SEXUALIZATION OR WHAT I LEARNED THROUGH MY SCHOOLING.

YOU MENTIONED SOMETHING THAT IS IMPORTANT FOR PEOPLE TO REALIZE THAT THE CITY OF NEW YORK IS NOT PAYING FOR THIS.

THIS IS NOT TAXPAYER DOLLARS THAT ARE GOING TO THIS.

THESE BILLBOARDS ARE BEING FUNDED BY AN ADVERTISING FIRM NAMED KINETIC.

UH-HUH.

UNDERSTANDING THAT THEN, WOULD YOU BE IN FAVOR OF THE IDEA OF EXPANDING THESE BILLBOARDS?

WE KNOW A NUMBER OF OTHER STATES HAVE MIMICKED THIS BY FLORIDA OR ARE PLANNING OR ATTEMPTING TO SO YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT AN ARRAY OF OTHER PLACES AND DO YOU THINK IT WOULD BE WORTHWHILE TO SAY LET'S FOCUS ON THOSE STATES ALSO WITH NEW YORK CITY LEADING THE WAY?

YOU KNOW, IN TERMS OF WHAT WE NEED TO FOCUS ON AND WHILE IT IS GREAT AND THIS IS A GOOD IDEA THERE IS SO MUCH WORK THAT NEEDS TO BE DONE ESPECIALLY WITHIN FEDERAL GOVERNMENTS AND THE STATEWIDE GOVERNMENTS IN TERMS OF LOBBYING FOR MORE PRO-LGBTQ POLICIES AND WHILE ALSO ADVOCATING AGAINST BILLS THAT HAS BEEN PASSED SINCE FLORIDA.

ON A RESOURCE-BASED LEVEL, I DON'T THINK IT SHOULD BE THE NUMBER ONE PRIORITY OR MOST ESPECIALLY OUR GOVERNMENTS OR THE ACTUAL WORK LEGISLATION AND ADVOCACY IN PROTECTING OUR MOST MARGINALIZED WHICH ARE OUR QUEER YOUTH.

DOES IT CONCERN YOU THAT SOMETHING LIKE THIS MIGHT MASK AND I THINK YOU MADE THIS POINT, BUT MASKS SOME OF THE REAL WORK THAT NEEDS TO BE DONE THAT PEOPLE MIGHT SAY, WE'RE DOING GREAT HERE.

WE HAVE BILLBOARDS UP AND MAYBE NOT JUMP IN WITH MORE SUBSTANTIVE WORK?

ABSOLUTELY.

IT SPEAKS TO THE PEPSI COMMERCIAL WITH KENDALL JENNER.

A LOT OF VIRTUE SIGNALING, BUT NOT NECESSARILY ADDRESSING THE REAL ISSUES OR THE REAL PROBLEM.

SO I THINK IN THIS INSTANCE I WAS HAPPY TO SEE THIS, HOWEVER, JUST TO DOUBLE DOWN ON MY POINTS.

A LOT MORE WORK NEEDS TO BE DONE AND OF COURSE, IT'S EASIER TO SOMETIMES THROW MONEY AT A BILLBOARD, BUT AGAIN, SO MUCH MORE WORK NEEDS TO BE DONE IN HOLDING ELECTED OFFICIALS ACCOUNTABLE.

TALKING ABOUT ELECTED OFFICIAL, YOU ARE ONE IN NEW YORK CITY.

WE KNOW THAT ELECTED OFFICIALS HAVE PRESSURES FROM ALL SORTS OF DIFFERENT DIRECTIONS HERE.

AS YOU LOOK AT THIS SCENARIO AND WHAT'S HAPPENING IN FLORIDA, DID YOU GET ANY KIND OF A SENSE THAT THERE IS ROOM FOR CONVERSATION OR SOME SORT OF COMMON GROUND THAT COULD ALAY MAYBE A LEGITIMATE CONCERN AND ALSO MAKE PEOPLE REALIZE THAT MAYBE THAT SHOULDN'T BE A REAL CONCERN AND THERE ARE OTHER THINGS OR DO YOU SEE THIS AS JUST ANOTHER MARKED BATTLE IN THE CULTURE WARS AND WE CAN ONLY EXPECT MORE OF THEM?

I THINK THAT'S A DIFFICULT QUESTION FOR ME TO ANSWER.

ONE BECAUSE I'M NOT AN ELECTED OFFICIAL IN FLORIDA.

THANKFULLY, I DO LIKE BEING AN ELECTED OFFICIAL IN NEW YORK CITY AND NOT TO BRING IT BACK TO ADDRESS REPUBLICANS AS A WHOLE, AFTER TRUMP AND EVEN NOW AFTER TRUMP'S PRESIDENCY, IT FEELS LIKE THE RIGHT HAS MOVED FURTHER RIGHT THAN I EVER EXPECTED THEM TO BE BEFORE AND THERE ARE A LOT MORE AUDACIOUS AND RIDICULOUS SOMETIMES ABOUT THEIR POLICIES RATHER THAN FOCUSING ON THE QUALITY OF LIFE AND THE CALLIST LIFE AND WELFARE OF AMERICANS, SO I'M REALLY UNSURE IF I CAN ANSWER THAT QUESTION BECAUSE FOR A LOT OF THE SEMANTICS AND POLICIES AND VALUES THAT THIS NEW REPUBLICAN COORDINATOR IS SPEWING THROUGH MEDIA, IT'S HARD FOR ME TO SAY, IF THERE'S ANY TYPE OF REASON OR ANY CONSULTATION DISCUSSING THIS DON'T SAY GAY BILL IS MORALLY WRONG.

ARE YOU GETTING A SENSE IN YOUR TIME IN OFFICE NOW AND OBVIOUSLY, YOU'VE BEEN VERY ACTIVE BEFORE YOU WERE ACTUALLY IN OFFICE, ARE YOU GETTING A SENSE THAT NEW YORK CITY IS MOVING IN THE DIRECTION THAT YOU SHOULD BE MOVING IN?

THERE WAS A QUESTION ABOUT MAYOR ADAMS HAD MADE SOME APPOINTMENTS EARLY ON WHETHER THOSE PEOPLE WHO WERE APPOINTED HAD SAID SOME THINGS IN THE PAST THAT APPEARED TO BE ANTI-GAY AND AS A CONSEQUENCE THERE WAS A SUGGESTION THAT THERE SHOULD BE AN OFFICE OF LGBTQ AFFAIRS IN NEW YORK CITY.

HOW DO YOU SEE THE MAYOR'S ADMINISTRATION MOVING IN THIS DIRECTION?

IN TERMS OF LGBTQ RIGHTS, I THINK WE'RE MOVING SLOWLY.

AGAIN, THERE'S A LOT OF POWER THAT THIS ADMINISTRATION HAS AND I WOULD LIKE TO SEE MORE.

MYSELF, AS WELL AS MY COLLEAGUES AND THE LGBTQ CAUCUS AS WELL AS LGBTQ ACTIVISTS ARE ADDRESSING LGBTQ AFFAIRS.

WE ARE SEEING AN UPTICK OF MURDER AGAINST BLACK TRANS WOMEN ACROSS THE COUNTRY AND NEW YORK CITY AND THAT IS SOMETHING THAT I'M ALWAYS VOCALIZING TO PEOPLE THAT LISTEN TO ME, BUT OF COURSE, TO THIS ADMINISTRATION, TOO.

WE NEED TO SEE REAL INVESTMENT AND REAL WORK THAT MOVES BEYOND MAYBE VIRTUE SIGNALING AND I CAN'T GET THAT TERM RIGHT --

IT'S NOT AN EASY ONE.

IT'S NOT AN EASY ONE, RIGHT?

IT IS NOT.

I'M GLAD YOU'RE TRYING TO SAY IT AND NOT ME.

RIGHT, RIGHT, RIGHT.

I THINK THERE IS A LOT MORE WORK THAT NEEDS TO BE DONE IN PROTECTING LGBTQ YOUTH AND LGBTQ PEOPLE ESPECIALLY WHEN IT COMES TO HOMELESSNESS AND LGBTQ YULG.

I WOULD LOVE TO SEE OUR CITY PUT THEIR MONEY WHERE THEIR MOUTH IS.

LAST QUESTION FOR YOU.

I HAVE A LITTLE LESS THAN A MINUTE AND YOU TALK ABOUT THE CITIES MOVING SLOWLY, BUT ARE YOU HOPEFUL?

ARE YOU HOPEFUL THAT YOU'RE SEEING SIGNS OF PROGRESS HERE?

I AM YOUNG.

I AM NAIVE.

THUS, I'M ALWAYS OPTIMISTIC AND OF COURSE, I'M HOPEFUL AND WHILE I HAVE DISAGREED WITH THE MAYOR ON A COUPLE OF THING, HE IS SOMEONE THAT LISTENS.

HE IS SOMEONE THAT GIVES HIS WORD AND HE WON'T GIVE HIS WORD TO SOMETHING HE WON'T GIVE HIS WORD TO, AND HE'LL SHOOT IT DOWN, MAYBE.

SO I'M HOPEFUL TO SEEING HIS GROWTH AS WELL AS HIS LISTENING, INTERPRETING AND HOPEFULLY ACTION WITHIN THE CONVERSATIONS THAT I HAVE ENGAGED WITH HIM AS WELL AS OTHER LGBTQ OR QUEER NEW YORKERS.

HOPE IS ALWAYS SOMETHING THAT WE WELCOME HERE.

ONCE AGAIN, COUNCIL MEMBER, THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR JOINING US.

WE LOOK FORWARD TO TALKING TO YOU DOWN THE ROAD.

YOU BE WELL.

THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

TAKE CARE.

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