New Queens Pride’s collaboration with the Zionist machine in support of Apartheid Israel’s Gaza genocide

New Queens Pride’s collaboration with the Zionist machine in support of Apartheid Israel
by Pauline Park, Ph.D.

I moved to Jackson Heights in 1997 and have marched in virtually every Queens Pride Parade from 1997 to 2024 but 2024 could well be my last Queens Pride — and therein hangs a tale…

To begin at the beginning: I was one of several activists who came together to co-found a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community center in Queens back in 1996 and in January 1997, we announced the formation of Queens Pride House; the organization was incorporated as the Queens Lesbian & Gay Community Center — doing business as (dba) Queens Pride House — with a name suggested by our first president — Maritza Martinez — precisely because of the similarity with the name of the Queens Pride Committee — which ran the Queens Pride Parade from its inception until ‘New Queens Pride’ was formed in 2023 to replace it.

The origin of ‘New Queens Pride’ is known only to a few and stems from a confluence of factors rooted in the determination of Daniel F. Dromm to destroy Queens Pride House. Danny Dromm is widely but inaccurately perceived as the sole founder of the Queens Pride Committee; in fact, he pushed a number of co-founders off the committee when he came to view them as a threat to his sole control of the committee and his clear intention to use the pride parade as a launching pad for his political career. When a number of activists came together to start Queens Pride House, Danny joined the effort to try to assert control over the initiative and turn it into yet another launching pad for his political career. By April 1998, I confided in colleagues that it was clear to me that Queens Pride House could not move forward as a community-based project with Danny on the board, and so as the founding first secretary of the board of directors, I organized our first election in 1999 (the initial ‘election’ in January 1997 was really just seven of us declaring ourselves to be a board of directors and was not competitive).

Queens Pride House contingent in the Queens Pride Parade (7 June 2015)

John Azzali was one of our board members as well as the chair of Queens Gays & Lesbians United (Q-GLU), which had been founded by Ed Sedarbaum in those early days following the murder of Julio Rivera — also the catalyst to the creation of the Queens Pride Committee; John betrayed my confidence and so Danny Dromm realized that I had the votes to remove him from the board of Queens Pride House (QPH); rather than face the humiliation of being voted off the board, he decided not to run for re-election to it; but Maritza Martinez — our first president as well as the co-chair of the Queens Pride Committee with Danny Dromm — agreed to be his instrument of continued control over the QPH board in exchange for his continued support for her role as co-chair of the Pride Committee — at serious risk because of an altercation she was involved in that had taken place at the Bronx Pride Parade. At our January 1999 board meeting, members voted Maritza off the board and Jimmy Van Bramer (another co-founding board member) decided not to run for re-election to the board.

I would subsequently leave the board myself in May 1999 and then later return for another spell on the board; I would then leave the board again, only to return in April 2010, being elected vice-president and then president of the board; in May 2012, I would be appointed executive director — the first openly transgendered Asian American woman ever to serve as the executive director. In my three years as executive director, undoubtedly the most controversial thing I did was organize and host a forum on the pinkwashing of Israeli occupation and apartheid in 2013 (“Queens Pride House history: the June 2013 Israel/Palestine forum,” 21 July 2013); at the forum, I talked about my participation in the first US LGBTQ delegation tour of Palestine in January 2012 which Sarah Schulman — who joined me on the dais — organized. The forum was co-sponsored by New York City Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (NYC QAIA), which I co-founded with several other activists in 2011 when the LGBT Community Center in Manhattan expelled the Siege Busters Working Group and banned Palestine solidarity organizing and all discussion of Israel/Palestine — a ban that lasted from February 2011 until February 2013. That June 4 forum was the first and (as far as I know) the only public forum on Israel/Palestine ever organized, hosted and sponsored by an LGBT community center in the United States; it would not be difficult to figure out why no other LGBT community center has ever done so, given our experience — which culminated in an editorial in the Queens Chronicle denouncing Queens Pride House and Pauline Park by name; in retrospect, it was my Battle of the Spurs and I certainly earned my spurs by standing up to the enormous pressure from the Zionist machine in attempting to subvert the event.

Unrelated to the controversy surrounding the 2013 Israel/Palestine forum, Charles Ober — who was serving as board treasurer and chief financial officer (CFO) during my three years as executive director of Queens Pride House — decided for health reasons that he could not continue to do a full-time job at Pride House on top of his full-time paid job and so he and I began a search for a way to transition out of our leadership positions. We approached David Kilmnick, the founding executive director (who now uses the very corporate title ‘CEO’) of the LGBT Network which run four LGBT community centers on Long Island. While David grew up in Queens (in the Rockaways), his centers were all in Nassau and Suffolk counties and he had no ‘footprint’ in Queens County. We met with him and his partner Robert Vitelli to discuss a possible handover of Queens Pride House and David agreed to Charlie’s suggestion that as part of the merger, Charlie and I would be elected to David’s Network board for one year in order to help oversee the transition. Charlie and I also confided in David about the hostility of both Danny Dromm and Jimmy Van Bramer (simultaneously elected the first openly gay members of the New York City Council member from districts 25 and 26) toward Queens Pride House; unbeknownst to us, David then shared our confidences with Danny and Jimmy; also unbeknownst to us, David applied to them for discretionary funding under the auspices of Queens Pride House; David used the QPH name because his Network had never operated in the borough of Queens; it is important to point out that only the envisioned partnership with QPH gave David the ability to apply for funding from the New York City Council; but it is also important to point out after Charlie and I decided to terminate our negotiations with David over a possible merger that he went forward with the funding request, using a ‘dummy’ corporation to ensure that the funding went to the Network rather than to Pride House.

In September 2014, things came to a head when David called me and informed me that his board would only accept one of us and not both Charlie and me; I had heard from a former Network board member that David completely controlled the Network board; in fact, when one board member challenged what he perceived as David’s misappropriation of funds from the organization to enrich himself at the Network’s expense, David not only ordered the board to vote the critical board member off the board but (according to that board member) made false allegations against him using paid Network staff. Hence when David told me that the Network board would only accept one of us and not both Charlie and me, it was clear to me that it was not his board but David himself — most likely at Danny’s instigation — who gave me and Charlie the ultimatum and not the Network board; knowing Danny as I had for 17 years, I surmised that he had given David the idea, believing that Charlie would be less likely to challenge David if added to the Network board and so from David’s point of view (and Danny’s) would be a better (i.e., more compliant) board member. Charlie was in the middle of a serious health crisis (from which he fortunately recovered) and gave me the final say; I decided that we simply could not move forward with a partnership when the head of the partner organization clearly could not be trusted and so I very politely informed David that we had decided not to move forward with the merger with the LGBT Network of Long Island. When I told a friend about David taking funding for Queens Pride House from the New York City Council based on the pretext of a merger/partnership with QPH even after we terminated discussions with David, this friend of mine said he thought that David’s actions might not only be illegal but even possibly criminal. Regardless, it was those discretionary funds (taken under false pretenses) that enabled David to launch the Q Center in Long Island City (which later moved to Astoria), adding a center in the borough of Queens to the centers in Nassau and Suffolk counties already run by the Network.

In any case, when Danny decided to turn the running of the Queens Pride Parade over to someone else, I was not surprised that he chose David Kilmnick to take over the Queens Pride Committee — renaming it ‘New Queens Pride.’ From the beginning, it was clear that David would be even less politically progressive than Danny in the way he ran the parade, as David demonstrated by inviting the New York Police Department (NYPD) to participate in the parade even after Heritage of Pride decided to exclude the NYPD from the New York City LGBT Pride March because of the NYPD’s long and sordid history of harassment of the LGBT community.

But David’s decision to organize a ‘stand with Israel’ event at his Hauppauge center in November 2023 would have wide-ranging consequences. The Oct. 7 Hamas attack on a kibbutz just over the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel was widely condemned by LGBT organizations as well as elected officials after Israel reported more than 1,200 casualties; what was not widely reported by the mainstream (i.e., corporate) media in the US was the fact that many of those killed on Oct. 7 were actually killed by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF, a.k.a., ‘IOF’ — ‘Israeli Occupation Forces’). David Kilmnick’s op-ed published in the in the November 5 edition of the New York Daily News was an outrageous tissue of lies and half truths and his mischaracterization of ‘pinkwashing’ in the op-ed seemed to me to be quite deliberate. Worse still, the ‘LGBT Community Stands with Israel & Against Antisemitism’ event held at the Hauppauge center on November 16 deliberately conflated anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism — itself arguably an act of anti-Semitism in conflating Zionism with Judaism and all criticism of Zionism with harassment and violence directed against Jews (“LGBT Zionists are pinkwashing Apartheid Israel’s genocide in Gaza,” 10 November 2023)

David Kilmnick’s outrageously false assertion that criticism of Apartheid Israel’s Gaza genocide constituted support for Hamas prompted the Tibetan Equality Project — which had marched in the 2023 Queens Pride Parade — to boycott Queens Pride 2024, declaring in a statement, “We must not forget that Pride is a community-led movement against police brutality and violence, not a place for Zionists, cops, elected officials, and corporations to wash away their complicity in profiting off of Israel committing genocide in Gaza” (Andrew Lapin, “This Pride, queer Jews are feeling the strain — and sometimes unsafe — over Israel,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, 18 June 2024). Other LGBT/queer Asian & Pacific Islander (API) community-based organizations considered boycotting the 2024 Queens Pride Parade because of David Kilmnick’s direction and control of the parade and concern that he would use the parade to advance a Zionist agenda of support for Apartheid Israel and its Gaza genocide; but GAPIMNY (originally known as ‘Gay Asian & Pacific Islander Men of New York’), Q-Wave, the South Asian Lesbian & Gay Association (SALGA), the Caribbean Equality Project and Tarab NYC (a group for Middle Eastern and North African queers) ultimately decided to march; as Tarab NYC declared on Instagram, ” we have decided to claim our space and NOT give up Queens Pride to Zionists.”

In the end, the vibrant Palestine solidarity contingent marched and to the extent that I could gauge response from the crowd, a majority seemed to have no response at all  group — perhaps puzzled by the novelty of Palestine being represented in the Queens Pride Parade for the first time. I encountered only two negative responses, both from white men. One middle-aged white man — whom I assume was a Zionist from his response — did a major ‘thumbs down’ when he saw our Palestinian flags and signage; one other middle-aged white man asked loudly and presumably rhetorically as we passed by at 75th St. (at the end of the parade route), “So does Palestine love queers?” With the exception of those two negative responses, every response I noticed as I marched was favorable, with loud cheers from those standing on the sidelines; I was surprised ad how overwhelmingly positive the responses were from those who had a reaction to the presence of our Palestine solidarity contingent in the parade — testimony to the extent to which Apartheid Israel’s pursuit of genocide in Gaza — with at least 36,000 innocent Palestinian civilians killed at the time of the Queens Pride Parade — has turned American and world public opinion against the fascist apartheid state.

I was also struck by the fact that ‘New Queens Pride’ did not use any explicitly Zionist signage or advertising before or during the parade; perhaps David Kilmnick realized that Brand Israel had become toxic within the LGBTQ community as well as outside it. That being said, the power of the New York City Council, the New York state legislature and Congress — the overwhelming majority of members who (continue to) support Apartheid Israel and its Gaza genocide — means that David Kilmnick must realize that he has the entire power structure, the mainstream (corporate) media and the Zionist machine behind him as they use organizations such as ‘New Queens Pride’ as well as the LGBT Network to advance an explicitly anti-progressive agenda of generating support for apartheid, ethnic cleansing and genocide; history will judge him harshly for supporting one of the greatest genocides in history even if he suffers no organizational consequences for doing so.

Pauline Park, Ph.D. ( is a co-founding member of New York City Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (NYC QAIA) and participated in the first US LGBTQ delegation tour of Palestine in January 2012; she also led the campaign for the transgender rights law enacted by the New York City Council in April 2002 and became the first openly transgendered grand marshal of the New York City LGBT Pride March in June 2002.

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