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Towleroad Interview: Christine Quinn

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(Photo: William Alatriste)


In the spirit of LGBT Pride Weekend, Towleroad caught up with openly gay New York City mayoral candidate Christine Quinn to discuss how she'll celebrate, the recent Supreme Court victories and her plan to fight HIV/AIDS in New York City.


What are your plans for Pride this year?

I always go to the breakfast given each year by GOAL, the NYPD's Gay Officers Action League, and then it's straight to the parade. I'll be with my wife and my father and our extended family, as well as close friends, colleagues and staff. It's a rush marching down Fifth Avenue. I try to do the route twice. My favorite part is walking along the barricades talking to people and meeting folks who are there for the first time.


Do you have a favorite Pride memory?

I remember my first Pride like it was yesterday, even though it was over 20 years ago, and I will say that Pride 2011 was especially wonderful. Two nights before, New York had approved marriage equality, so there we were, about two million people lining Fifth Avenue and the streets of the Village, and the roar of pride and excitement was like nothing I had ever seen. This year's Pride is following the incredible wins at the Supreme Court, so I know we'll hear that roar again and that the roar will be heard across the country.


Speaking of the recent Supreme Court victories, can you discuss the LGBTQ issues that are most important to you?

The fight against HIV/AIDS is not over and as mayor I will establish an office of HIV/AIDS policy because we need to wage the fight out of City Hall, not the Health Department, so we can coordinate among city agencies. And clearly the issue of hate crimes has affected our community in a profound way. Despite the advances we’ve made, our community often does not feel safe and that isn't acceptable. When I was the Executive Director of the Anti-Violence Project I learned that hate crimes must be met with an overwhelming community response to let the world know that this will not be accepted. As mayor this will be a priority for me.


How do you think you've made a difference in the LGBTQ community?

From organizing against anti-LGBT violence as head of the Anti-Violence Project in the early 1990s to fighting to establish the HIV/AIDS Services Administration to playing an integral part in the fight for marriage equality and protecting funding for LGBT homeless and runaway youth as Speaker, I have delivered positive, affirming change for the community throughout my career in public life. But the work doesn't stop there. This week I'm releasing my LGBT policy plan detailing what my focus will be as mayor on behalf of the LGBT community. This includes eradicating anti-LGBT hate crimes, creating the first LGBT senior housing community, a focus on transgender civil rights, eliminating the waiting list for beds for LGBT homeless and runaway youth, the creation of the Mayor's Office for HIV/AIDS Policy and being a powerful presence in Albany and Washington. We also need to improve data collection as a city to ensure we are raising the level of community services for LGBT New Yorkers.

There's a saying that goes "If you're not at the table, you're on the menu." For LGBT New Yorkers, having a place at the table is key to ensuring that our issues are front and center. Standing up, being out, being visible and most importantly getting real results for the community you live in is how you make a difference.


In the spirit of Pride, what do you hope for the LGBTQ community?

I hope that we continue to move forward as we collectively have over the past few years, but also that we realize that as a community the work is never done. It's true that we have made major strides on marriage, but we can't get complacent. We have seen a sickening spike in hate crimes and Albany still hasn't gotten it together and extended statewide basic civil rights to the transgender community. Each night thousands of LGBT homeless youth are without beds on the street, LGBT seniors often live in isolation and we are seeing an alarming rise in HIV and AIDS, especially in poor communities of color. We have a lot to do.

The marriage victory is an incredible accomplishment and a real milestone, but it's also just a milestone. It's not a signal to rest on your laurels. This is why as mayor I will push every day on issues like hate crimes, homeless and runaway youth, seniors and transgender rights, HIV/AIDS care and services.


What member of the LGBT community has inspired you most?

Like many, I'm inspired every day by the advocacy of heroism of groundbreaking, larger-than-life figures. I put Edie Windsor and Robbie Kaplan in that category. Edie Windsor was just an everyday citizen. When she got that tax bill after her wife Thea died, she could have just paid the bill and given up, but she didn't. She took the United States of America to court and with Robbie handling her case, she won. These type of women not only inspire me but will inspire young women for generations to come.

To connect with Christine Quinn, follow her on Twitter or visit her website.

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  1. No questions about why Quinn flip-flopped on term limits when she herself was about to be term-limited out of office?
    No questions about the slush fund scandal?
    No questions about why Quinn watered down a living-wage bill with so many exemptions that the passed law only applies to 0.16% of jobs in NYC?
    No questions about why she single-handedly blocked a paid–sick-leave bill for more than 3 years, a bill that was supported by a veto-proof majority of the council?
    No questions about why Quinn signed off on new NYPD regulations that make it illegal for any group of 50 people to gather without a police permit?
    No questions about why Quinn is the only major Democratic candidate who intends to ask Ray "Stop and Frisk" Kelly to stay on as police commissioner?

    Pride week or not, the middle of a hard-fought primary campaign is not a terribly professional time for a journalistic outlet to do an LGBT-questions-only interview of a mayoral candidate. All of the major Democratic mayoral candidates have excellent records on LGBT issues. I wonder if de Blasio, Thompson, Weiner and Liu will get such softball coverage from Towleroad?

    I know that Quinn is tanking in the polls and the campaign is desperately reaching out to anybody who can give her some good press. But I expect better than this blatant favoritism from Towleroad.

    Posted by: 24play | Jun 30, 2013 11:55:58 AM

  2. @24play - what do you expect from the Andy Towle, David Mixner, Neil Giuliano, GLAAD, HRC, VictoryFund, if its gay its good, cabal? They cant see past gender politics, so these are the the kinds of pathetic, PR team written interviews we get. TRoad should have interviewed Edie Windsor, not this fraud...but then, Edie can't do them any favors.

    Posted by: Holamigo | Jun 30, 2013 12:36:17 PM

  3. This was a good interview for Christine Quinn. Lots of softball questions. (Insert lesbian joke here.)

    I missed the question about term limits and how we would have had Bill Thompson as our mayor if Christine Quinn did not collude with Mayor Bloomberg to revoke term limits and allow herself to be reelected and allow him to spend $100 million to buy a third tem (although with a bare majority of votes).

    For an LGBT voter to be able to vote against an LGBT candidate on policy = true success of the LGBT movement.

    Posted by: bravo | Jun 30, 2013 3:56:59 PM

  4. Disappointing puff piece about someone who has practically blazed a trail of destruction behind her in her effort to accumulate more power. Quinn is motivated by blind ambition, not by a guiding set of principles or a desire to serve. She doesn't stand for anything except that which will advance her career. It's no wonder that two anti-Quinn groups participated in the gay pride parade today.

    Posted by: Donny Moss | Jun 30, 2013 6:29:00 PM

  5. What a softball game of an interview. I hope that this news site will have some truly journalistic interviews and coverage of the NYC mayoral candidates.

    Posted by: David Groff | Jun 30, 2013 6:30:19 PM

  6. Was this the best you could do? I am serious. A few generally topical questions of a person you identified as a candidate without any real follow up and answers she already gave in press releases does not seem worthy of your time or ours.

    What next, 10 ways to slim down for that rocking bikini body in 10 days?

    Posted by: Robert | Jun 30, 2013 6:43:47 PM

  7. If I lived in NY I'd vote for Anthony Weiner.

    Posted by: Brian in Texas | Jun 30, 2013 6:55:53 PM

  8. Holamingo: Your solid cohesive complaint is appreciated. Thank you.

    Posted by: Slam | Jun 30, 2013 8:51:54 PM

  9. "I wouldn't belong to any club that would have me as a member"
    A. Towle

    Posted by: Slam | Jun 30, 2013 8:54:51 PM

  10. The only question you seemed to have missed here is, "What kind of gay tree would you be?" You had a chance to ask some REAL questions, and instead let her get away with speaking in press releases. Shame on you.

    I wouldn't vote for this phony opportunist if she was the only one on the ballot.

    Posted by: Roy | Jun 30, 2013 8:57:30 PM

  11. Absolutely agree that all politicians need to answer the hard questions.

    @bravo said it perfectly. You vote to put someone in a position of power because of their stance on issues and policy not their sexual orientation.

    I've not been able to look at Quinn without thinking that she colluded with Bloomberg to circumvent term limits. Yes, Quinn is Family and Bloomberg is an LGBT ally but to me that makes what they did even worse.

    If you get a chance to interview Quinn again ask her about her involvement in Bloomberg & term limits.

    Posted by: JONES | Jun 30, 2013 9:03:10 PM

  12. I don't care how gay she is, I will never vote for this mean-spirited, term limit-overthrowing, insecure slug. I'll be voting for Thompson.

    Posted by: Feral | Jun 30, 2013 11:30:44 PM

  13. For Speaker Quinn's sake, I hope she also has access to supporters in an alternate universe, where potential voters applaud her deals with Mayor Bloomberg for both to remain in power a term beyond what the voters twice approved. And a universe where the premise of term limits is not that incumbents have a huge monetary advantage which can sway even well-intentioned voters, but a universe where LGBT voters will vote for her for being L and not think about their best interests.

    Posted by: bravo | Jul 1, 2013 12:10:27 AM

  14. Whoops, I meant to say: For Speaker Quinn's sake, I hope she also has access to supporters in an alternate universe, where potential voters applaud her deals with Mayor Bloomberg for each to remain in power a term beyond the limits which voters twice approved. And a universe where the premise of term limits is not that incumbents have a huge monetary advantage which can sway even well-intentioned voters, but a universe where LGBT voters will vote for her for being L and not think about their best interests.

    (Not that I have a favorite, but I'll vote Thompson 2013, as Speaker Quinn deprived him of his rightful term in 2009.)

    Posted by: bravo | Jul 1, 2013 12:13:26 AM

  15. Oh, and you forgot to ask her what her favorite color in the rainbow is?

    Answer: Green. Then her advisors gather to tell her that green represents Irish and money (not usually in the same place).

    She revises her answer: Latino/Latina.

    Posted by: bravo | Jul 1, 2013 12:15:57 AM

  16. Wow, I'm surprised by the vitriol of my fellow commenters. I'm a New Yorker looking forward to voting for Chris Quinn in September and, hopefully, getting her elected in November.

    We New Yorkers, not Quinn, are responsible for Bloomberg's third term — we voted for him. And while Quinn shows actual leadership in negotiating successful budget deals and policy compromises (including, yes, the tempered paid sick leave bill), her more knee-jerk-progressive opponents bloviate or (in the case of Weiner) worse.

    Where differences with Bloomberg matter — schools, stop-and-frisk, attention to LGBT issues — Quinn is the loudest person in the room.

    I simply do not understand the depth of hatred from some members of our community to someone who could be both pathbreaking and unimaginably impactful as mayor. You can bet that Mayor Weiner won't be making the same strides against HIV/AIDS, hate crimes, and LGBT homelessness.

    Posted by: tuppy | Jul 1, 2013 11:30:34 AM

  17. I've been surprised by the hate, too. If you truly believe that reversing term limits is an unforgivable sin, then all the more power to you. From where I stand, it looks like you're amazed to find out that a professional politician actually acted like a professional politician. Whether you like Bloomberg or not, it's hard to imagine what good it would have done Quinn to fight him. We only have to look to the House to see how effectively the "I'll take my toys and go home" approach to politics works.

    If you're an activist, you get to remain ideologically pure. If you're a politician, you have to play with the people who were invited to the dance.

    I envy you if you really believe that any of the other candidates will be as effective a leader on progressive issues as Christine Quinn. Say what you want about identity politics, but having a gay woman in the office in and of itself will do a lot more for women and gays than any of the men in the race.

    I feel like this is Hillary all over again. Instead of holding her up to some imaginary ideal of the perfect candidacy -- and femininity -- how about we look at what she's done and what she can do as mayor?

    Posted by: Jodi | Jul 1, 2013 12:46:20 PM

  18. @Jodi - "how about we look at what she's done and what she can do as mayor?"

    That's the point. People have looked at her record and what she'll do as mayor. That's exactly why we don't want her.

    Posted by: bleck | Jul 1, 2013 4:41:44 PM

  19. She's got my vote. I just love her.

    Posted by: Martin | Jul 1, 2013 7:43:02 PM

  20. Everybody love the heavy red haired girl. And she's a lesbian? Sorry, she's had too many sodas. Wouldn't be the first time we elected a candidate on superficiality alone.

    Posted by: Gb | Jul 1, 2013 8:03:19 PM

  21. Was that Quinn's answer to why she helped Bloomberg negate term limits ... that she's a professional politician and she had to do that to be at the dance? Because the interviewer never asked that question and thus we don't know her answer. That was my point.

    I'm surprised that you find that an admirable quality but as a hypothetical ... if it was a Republican, or a corrupt mayor that did the same thing what would you say? Is it only OK when it's a politician you approve of? As an activist my stance is you point it out when any politician does something that appears unseemly and evaluate their explanation.

    I don't have idealized standards of femininity and agree with you that comments about Quinn's looks are offensive. An imaginary ideal of a perfect candidate ... In this race, Weiner & Quinn, you can't be serious.

    I disagree with you also about other candidates concerns for LGBT issues. Being LGBT isn't a prerequisite to caring about LGBT issues. Gillebrand is one of the staunchest allies in the country and she's not Family.

    Posted by: JONES | Jul 2, 2013 12:55:16 AM

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