Some 2,000 miles across the country, a second reported LGBT assault occurred following a Pride Parade celebration on Sunday, June 3.
Brandon Soriano, a 25-year-old gay man was repeatedly punched in the face on Sunday by two men who spewed homophobic insults at him. The Queens Pride Parade had marched past the location of the attack a few hours before.
In response, Daniel Puerto, a 26-year-old LGBT activist who grew up in Jackson Heights, decided to organize a protest shortly after learning about the attack.
“Although this month is about ‘pride,’ it’s also about standing up for what’s right,” Puerto told the Jackson Heights Post. “We want to make sure that people know that this community will not tolerate hate.”
“Our neighborhood is so vibrant and diverse,” said Puerto, adding that the assault does not fit into his image of the neighborhood. “To me, that’s not what Jackson Heights is.”
Jose Peralta, who also attended the parade, issued a statement condemning the attack and calling it “intolerable.”
“I am outraged that attacks against people because of their sexual orientation or gender expression continue to occur,” Peralta said. “There is no room for hate in our community, especially in one as diverse as Jackson Heights.”
Held Wednesday, June 6, the protest and press conference included support for a nationwide event, held the same day, seeking justice for the death of Roxsana Hernandez, a Honduras native and transgender woman who died in ICE custody in New Mexico. According to a Facebook page for the nationwide event at the U.S. Immigration Court in Atlanta, Hernandez allegedly did not receive adequate health care and succumbed to illness.
Following the press conference, attendees participated in a march from 78th Street to 83rd Street in front of the Taco Bell, the site of the attack on Soriano.
The Jackson Heights Post reported that the police describe the assailants as black men about 5 feet 7 inches tall. Both are still at large, although the Hate Crime Task Force is currently investigating the incident.
Photo courtesy of CBS New York