Staten Island Elects Matthew Titone, 1st Openly Gay Lawmaker

In a special election held yesterday, Matthew Titone became the first openly gay official elected from the New York City borough of Staten Island, and the fourth in the New York State legislature. He was running against two other candidates, and the NYT reports that, however the election had prevailed, there would have been a “first” involved:

Titone“The Staten Island race in the 61st Assembly District drew a great deal of attention because of Mr. Titone and his two rivals. The Independence Party candidate, Kelvin Alexander, would have been the borough’s first black assemblyman had he prevailed. And Rose Margarella, the Republican candidate, would have been the first of her party to be elected from this heavily Democratic district in recent history. With 100 percent of the votes counted, Mr. Titone received 2,888 votes, Ms. Margarella 1,846 and Mr. Alexander 1,122, according to unofficial figures from the New York City Board of Elections.”

Titone is a Democrat. He’ll join Deborah Glick and Daniel O’Donnell (both Democrats from Manhattan) along with State Senator Tom Duane.

Jim Smith, a co-founder of Stonewall Staten Island, recalled Titone’s coming out at the borough’s second annual gay parade in June 2006, when Titone, then a candidate for state senate, said: “My name is Matthew Titone. I’m proud to be a Democrat from Staten Island, and I also happen to be gay.”

Smith remembered: “It was a moment that I won’t forget. It was a tremendous moment for me and for the gay community. It was pouring rain. Suddenly the rain didn’t matter. This couldn’t have happened in the 1980s. Society on Staten Island wasn’t conditioned to it. When you were gay on Staten Island, you grew up in fear.”

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  1. MT says

    I don’t agree with that overly hysterical final statement by Mr. Smith. I had the archetypal (sp?) Staten Island upbringing. I was born in the 70’s, came of age in the 80’s, had a stay-at-home mom, hung out at the mall, had several guido friends (even had a brief guido phase my self in high school), went to catholic school my entire life and knew I was gay by age 11. I never lived in fear. I was never called into question because of my sexuality. It is (and was) what it is.

    Staten Island may be a white Republican stronghold, but it’s not exactly the gay bashing capital of the world. Granted this is only my personal experience and I don’t know many other (okay I only know one) gay people who actually grew up on Staten Island, but I really wish people like Smith wouldn’t paint that picture.

  2. Jack! says

    I’m proud of him. He has a tough road ahead. He won 2,888 votes or 49% while his two competitors won 2,968 votes or 51%. That gives him very little room to make mistakes.

  3. Leland says

    For those unaware, gay New York State Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell is Rosie’s brother.

  4. anthony says

    i too am a gay man that grew up on staten island with an upbringing that sounds fairly similar to MT. and i’m also a little tired of the old stereotype of staten islanders as the backward cousins of the rest of new york. my family has embraced my boyfriend and treats him like any other member of the family. i probably had the same fears and anxieties of most other gay men growing up in the ’70s without a lot of positive gay role models. i can’t imagine it was any more fear than a gay kid growing up in jersey or westchester. all the same, it’s fantastic for mr. titone and the gay community.

  5. Dr. Pat says

    Please tell me who is a great gay role model since it was mentioned….

    Just a thought.

  6. anthony says

    billie jean king. my gay uncle who is an accomplished doctor who volunteers with doctors without borders. a lot of others, most of whom aren’t famous but impact very positively the lives of young gay people.