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Tensions Flare Over GMHC Move

Tensions Flare Over GMHC Move


Negotiations to move Gay Men's Health Crisis from its longtime Chelsea location to a new space on the West Side of Manhattan appear to have aggravated old fault lines within the New York City-based AIDS services organization.

According to the The Wall Street Journal, community activists oppose the prospective move, which is supported by the GMHC leadership.

"With the nonprofit's rent rising on its home of nearly 15 years, GMHC is negotiating to lease space on the West Side, near Hudson Yards," reports the Journal. "The new building, at 450 W. 33rd St., would force GMHC to end or severely change some programs currently offered, such as a medical clinic, a full dining hall and a research center. Critics say the move threatens its mission."

GMHC chief executive officer Marjorie Hill defended the prospective move, telling the Journal that the new location would allow the organization to expand certain services and programs.

Chief opponent Larry Kramer (pictured), a founder of GMHC, circulated an e-mail Tuesday night blasting the group's board for voting to move forward with the lease negotiations. He said that with the new rental arrangement, the "GMHC board agrees to sell their AIDS clients down the river."

Kramer told The Advocate the move would be a grave disservice to clients, whose predicament will be the subject of a meeting Thursday afternoon.

"The clients and staff are unhappy," he said. "I get all these anonymous e-mails. That's why I'm involved. They are beside themselves."

The activist, who left GMHC in 1983 and went on to form ACT UP, insisted that the group chose the prospective new building as a last resort after other landlords discriminated against them.

"When one after another refuses to rent to them because of who they are, you've got to make this public. That is illegal. That's why they've been turned down everywhere," he said.

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