The National Park
Service has imposed severe restrictions on an
AIDS-awareness event planned for New York City this Sunday.
And the organizers of Pride in the City have called
the decision "old-fashioned racism and homophobia."
The group People of Color in Crisis organizes
the annual Pride in the City, which features booths
and musical performers, to help spread the word about
safe sex and offer free HIV tests. Last year the event drew
some 5,000 people to Jacob Riis Beach in Queens.
But this year the National Park Service is
capping the number it will allow at 1,500 and is
moving the event from the beach to a small ball field.
A park service spokeswoman tells the New York Daily
News that the agency is enforcing rules that it
hasn't in the past "for the safety of all visitors."
People of Color in Crisis executive director
Gary English says the restrictions are "ridiculous and
insensitive," especially because the event has never
had law enforcement problems with drugs or violence in
its six-year history. "It wasn't like an event that had, you
know, a history of a lot of bad incidents," said
English. "It's the opposite."
After the Park Service announced the
restrictions this week, New York politicians jumped
into the fray, siding with Pride in the City,
including Congressman Anthony Weiner and out city council
speaker Christine Quinn. English credits their help
and media attention with a partial change of heart by
the Park Service, which lifted its initial ban on
"This is a great country that we have a
democracy, and we have the ability to let our
legislators know--our elected officials and the
administration that runs this national park--that
we're not satisfied with their decision," said
English. He added that his group will do the best it
can to work within the Park Service restrictions this
weekend and then immediately begin negotiations for a
more satisfactory arrangement for next year's
event. (Sirius OutQ News)