Council member faces backlash for comments on children attending Yonkers Pride
A Yonkers council member is facing fierce backlash for a social media post in which he takes issue with drag queen performances and children activities being included at this weekend’s Pride Festival.
Council Member Anthony Merante's Facebook post from June 7 states, "Leave the kids out of this event," adding "I strongly feel that children do not belong in this environment. If a parent wants to teach their children about the LGBTQ community that is certainly fine but children's activities at an event with 'Drag Queens' is not."
The post is now being sharply criticized by LGBTQ+ advocates and allies.
"A blanket statement saying that a drag queen or anyone from the LGBTQ community is not safe for a child is strongly misplaced and dangerous for many people," said Steve Cruz, Yonkers Pride president and chairperson.
Cruz called the comments transphobic but not surprising considering the current political climate.
"This sentiment isn't unique that there are too many people in our country and our community with similar viewpoints," he said.
The council member's post comes as Texas lawmakers want to make drag performances in front of children illegal.
White Plains native Jorge Flores, who goes by Gigi Cutina in drag, is performing at Yonkers Pride.
He said queens adjust performances based on the audience.
"We are pretty much like Elmo, but just Elmo wearing rhinestones and sequins," he said.
In a statement, Merante said he decided to ask his constituents their thoughts on Facebook after seeing negative comments on a City of Yonkers Facebook post.
He released the following statement: "I first became aware of the "Drag Show" and children's activities being part of the Pride Festival from upset residents who saw it on the City of Yonkers Facebook page. There were numerous comments from citizens who were angry at the City of Yonkers for scheduling these two activities together. So, I decided to survey my constituents for their thoughts. My opinion was that it was inappropriate, but I asked in my FB post "What do you think? Am I being too old fashion in my views? and people responded, most agreed, and some were quite upset. The great thing about America is that we're all entitled to our opinions. So, for those who decide to take their kids, have a wonderful time and enjoy the Festival!"