Scroll To Top

Gay NYC Council Member's Event Casts Light on Anti-LGBTQ+ Crimes

Erik Bottcher

Erik Bottcher, who's up for reelection, is concerned with the recent spate of crimes against LGBTQ+ New Yorkers.


"Erik Bottcher I've known since he served on the City Council as a staff member, and he's touched my heart on many occasions," New York State Attorney General Letitia James said as the first to speak at a fundraiser for gay City Council member Erik Bottcher.

Bottcher, 42, has represented the Third District of New York City, including Greenwich Village, Chelsea, Hell's Kitchen, Flatiron, Times Square, and the Theater District, since January. He's now up for reelection in 2023. Earlier this summer, six months after taking office, Bottcher was tasked with ensuring his constituency had equitable and affordable access to the mpox vaccine to combat the outbreak. He began sharing vaccine info on his Instagram.

The recent fundraiser for Bottcher, hosted at Boxers HK, comes at a precarious time for the community, after the recent weeks of targeted attacks. This event was held the day after a man was arrested for throwing bricks and rocks at gay bars in Bottcher's district. Yet the atmosphere inside the venue was politically exhilarating and joyful. "This event was fabulous!" AG James told me as she tried to make it through the crowds of people who asked for a photo. She stopped for everyone who asked.

"What are you doing to protect gay bars in the city following the recent uptick in violence in our community spaces?" I asked her as we made our way outside.

"Working with Erik Bottcher," she replied.

When I spoke to Bottcher after the event, he spoke about his close working relationship with the police precincts in his district. "We're working closely with the commanders in my district to ensure that we remove as many guns off the streets of our city. We've been flooded with guns from neighboring states with lax gun laws," he said.

It seems like the queer and trans community is being hit from all sides. Just two weeks after a shooter in Colorado killed five people and injured more than 18 others at Club Q, The New York Times published a story detailing several cases of robberies, date rape, and in some cases, murder of lone gay men in Manhattan's nightlife.

"We demand justice for the deaths of John Umberger and Julio Ramirez," Bottcher said.

The NYPD announced last month that it was investigating the string of assaults in Hell's Kitchen. Umberger and Ramirez, both gay men, were robbed and murdered a month apart this year. "We want to see the people who did this in custody," Bottcher told me. "Additionally, we want everyone to know safety tips when they go out; always tell your friends where you're going and with whom. Test your drugs when possible. Watch your drinks."

At the event for Bottcher's campaign, I spoke to Jay Walker, activist, writer, and cofounder of the Reclaim Pride Coalition.

"After these targeted killings, the only thing we can do is education, and Erik is at the forefront of that, but the truth is, as we've seen with other instances of gay bashing and monkeypox and the AIDS epidemic, we as a community rally and get the word out and keep ourselves safe. And the truth is, we will always have to do that because other people have other priorities," Walker said.

Most of the attendees at the event were gay men. As I spoke to more of them, the consensus seemed to be that as much as local government and law enforcement would like us to believe we are being protected, gay men have historically had to rely on one another for any sense of security.

"We're allowed to have fun, but we have to also look out for another other as a community," said Tony Simone, Assembly member-elect for the 75th District in New York City.

"Why do you think these attacks are happening here?" I asked him.

"The former president allowed for all kinds of hate. And we're still seeing the effects of it," he said. "People have a fear of the unknown. And when people are frustrated economically, they take it out on others."

I learned from nearly everyone I spoke to that Bottcher's campaign is most concerned with mental health in the city. I asked Bottcher about Mayor Eric Adams's recent controversial initiative to hospitalize homeless people in the city unwillingly.

"What I'm not seeing in the mayor's plan is any concrete explanation of where the increased psychiatric bed space will be. There are undoubtedly many people on the streets of our city who need urgent in-patient mental health care. And it's wrong to let them suffer on the streets untreated. But we can't keep cycling people in and out of ERs. They need the full panoply of mental health care," Bottcher said.

I finally asked him what he made of the violence we're experiencing as a community, both from the religious right and within our own spaces, citing Ramirez and Umberger.

Bottcher had this to say in conclusion.

"The progress we've made is so incredibly fragile," he said. "We can't forget that. We can't assume that the progress we've made is going to stick. We could slide backward very easily. That's why we can't stop fighting. We have to remain aggressive and vigilant. We cannot rest for a moment."

30 Years of Out100Out / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff & Wayne Brady

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories

Andrew Sciallo