Rediscovering New York

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

2020/06/30 - LGBTQ Activists and Politics

[NEW EPISODE] LGBTQ Activists and Politics

How LGBTQ Activists Shaped NYC’s Political System

This week’s episode will focus on the influence of LGBTQ and HIV+ activists on New York City Politics.

My guests are Melissa Sklarz, the first transgender elected official in New York, and the NY City Council, and Erik Bottcher, Chief of Staff to Council Speaker Corey Johnson.

Segment 1

This special episode begins with Jeff introducing his guests, Melissa Sklarz, the first transgender elected official in New York; Erik Bottcher, Chief of Staff to Council Speak Corey Johnson. Both guests are interviewed together throughout the show. Both Melissa and Erik talk about where they grew up and lived prior to moving to NYC. They then describe when they first got involved with LGBTQ activism and the certain policies they had to face then that are changed now.

Segment 2

The trio talk about Stonewall Democrats, whom all three are members of, and other pro-LGBTQ Democratic groups. Melissa and Erik go on to talk about when and how they first join Stonewall Democrats. Then, Melissa talks about her involvement with the former Equality Project which focused on giving protections to LGBTQ people within a corporate environment. Erik describes what it was like working for Christine Quinn, former speaker of the NYC Council.

Segment 3

Melissa talks about what it was like to run for her different office positions, including her run for Assembly in 2018, and what really motivated her to represent the LGBTQ community. Erik, in turn, talks about his experience helping run specific campaigns under Christine Quinn and his own, detailing work environments, personal anecdotes with discrimination, and learning from policies that passed and didn’t pass.

Segment 4

Erik describes how he became Chief of Staff for Corey Johnson and back to City Hall. Following this, Melissa muses on the issues she’s been committed to and worked for over the years and if they’ve changed at all. Erik, too, thinks on how issues, policies, and culture have changed and what he has observed over the years. While both agree things have improved overall, both speak at length about certain LGBTQ groups that still struggle immensely. The show ends with Erik and Melissa sharing their plans and hopes for the future.