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Christian Cooper Endorses Ritchie Torres in Race Against Antigay Challenger

Christian Cooper Endorses Ritchie Torres in Race Against Antigay Challenger

ritchie torres

The Central Park birdwatcher who recently filmed a racist encounter is supporting  the Black gay candidate and bringing to light his challenger's homophobic past. 

The gay Black man who made national headlines after filming a racist incident in Central Park with a white woman is using his platform to make solid change.

Chris Cooper, a former editor for Marvel who introduced the first gay character into the Star Trek comics, announced this week that he's endorsing out candidate Ritchie Torres in his race against homophobic challenger Ruben Diaz Sr.

Torres, who is half Black and half Puerto Rican, was the first out gay candidate to be elected to office in the Bronx and became the youngest member of city council in 2013, representing the 15th district.

"Ritchie in his own person unites a whole bunch of things. He is openly gay. He is Latino. He is the intersection of a couple of things that are about equality and justice where people aren't getting their fair shake," Cooper said in an interview with the New York Daily News, adding that he hopes his message lands with "anybody who believes in fairness, anybody who looked at what happened to me in Central Park and thinks it's not right."

"Ruben Diaz Sr. has been on gay people's radar for a long time as far as how he has come after us over and over and tried to stifle our fundamental equal rights," Cooper said. "That's how the race got on my radar. Ritchie's been openly gay and doing great stuff in the City Council for a while. Hell, yeah, I'll support Ritchie."

Diaz has a long history of inflaming antigay, anti-abortion, and pro-stop-and-frisk rhetoric throughout his career, despite the fact that he's a Democrat.

In February 2019, Diaz was unapologetic about comments he made on a Spanish-language radio program where he said the city council is controlled by the "homosexual community" and that he felt unwelcome. He later went on to launch smear campaigns against council speaker Corey Johnson, a gay man who is living with HIV.

Diaz's own son, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. spoke out last year about his father's comments, tweeting at the time, "NYC is a place where we celebrate our diversity and inclusivity. The LGBTQ community is unequivocally an essential voice in our City."

In 2003, Diaz Sr. filed a bid to block the Harvey Milk High School, which serves LGBTQ+ youth, claiming that it discriminates against straight youth.

In 2011, Diaz was the only Democrat in the state Senate to vote against marriage equality.

According to Pink News, Diaz, whose granddaughter is a lesbian, was forced to resign from a post after suggesting that if NYC hosted the Gay Games, the city risks the spread of HIV and AIDS.

Torres has since spoken publicly about Cooper's public endorsement.

"I'm honored to have the support of Chris Cooper," Torres said in a statement. "He's both a symbol of racial justice and a lifelong champion of LGBT equality and he knows that the poisonous politics of Ruben Diaz Sr. represent a profound threat."

The Democratic primary for New York's 15th congressional district is on June 23.

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