From the president:
Roughly eight months ago I got the idea of starting a veteransí association in New York. I wanted to form a community-based organization that would support U.S. armed forces veteranís who are Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, along with their lovers, friends and families; provide assistance in dealing with the Veterans Administration Medical Centers; march in Pride Parades; and reach out to isolated senior GLBT veterans. I had initially called the DC chapter of AVER to ask how I could contact the NYC chapter. "There isnít one; you start it," I was told by Retired Marine Colonel Hank Thomas. I had long forgotten that old military adage: never volunteer for anything; little did I know the work I was in for.
I printed up a sign-up form for people who would be interested in joining a GLBT veterans group, made a cardboard sign on a stick that said, "Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender; U.S. Military Veterans Association; VA Medical Benefits" and headed for the summer Pride Parade festivals in Queens, Brooklyn, and Manhattan. I couldnít afford a table, so I walked back and forth with the sign and a clipboard with the sign-up sheet. Oh, you should have seen me doing the Queens Pride Parade in DRAG, with glitter dust in my moustache! It was not a pretty sight. Then began the liaison work of contacting and meeting with dozens of LGBT organizations and media in NYC asking for their support in spreading the word about our new group. Queens Pride House, HX magazine, SAGE-Queens, and the NY Blade newspaper were among the most responsive and helpful.
Our first meeting was held at Queens Pride House in August on one of the hottest days in history. A handful people showed up. We had a liaison representative from the VA who was ready to help our vets get their benefits. It was he who encouraged me to persevere. In September, more people attended and we were joined by our Treasurer Dan Hendrick, who has worked tirelessly ever since in helping to form the organization. October brought yet more members, including our incredibly wonderful Vice President Bill Horne, a WWII combat veteran who is OUT and proud.
Our Public debut was in November! We marched up Fifth Avenue in the Veterans Day Parade, our Rainbow Flags fluttering proudly in the wind (and rain); State Senator Tom Duane and City Council Member Christine Quinn, Jimmy Van Bramer and 15 others walked the distance with us as onlookers cheered and saluted. It was incredible! The following weekend we were at the Gay Lesbian Expo NYC at Javits Convention Center; our booth drew dozens of veterans thrilled to see a LGBT Vets group. Also, on November 11th, Veterans Day, we received our charter as a fully recognized chapter of American Veterans for Equal Rights. AVERNY was born.
Now, with your help, AVERNY is poised for the next step. With volunteer help and your ideas, we can do great things.
Best Wishes for the New Year.
Imagine being a frail elderly
lesbian living alone in the Bronx, or being an 85-year-old gay man in a
rooming house in outer Brooklyn or Queens who uses a walker to get around.
You served in World War II, worked all your life, had lovers and began the
Queer Revolution, all long ago before Stonewall. In the post-war years in
the 1950s, you dared to do drag at private parties with friends. All that
was is now mere memories. Todayís queer culture does not exist for you,
living out in the boroughs on Social Security. Itís hard enough just
getting down the stairs to go shopping in the neighborhood. No one in the
neighborhood knows that youíre gay, its unthinkable; and its very
lonely. You have never seen a gay newspaper; and even if you could get
one, you wouldnít dare bring it home because Mrs. Buskepelheit might see
it when she comes upstairs to make sure that you took your pills.
Then one day you open the Queens Chronicle and next to the pharmacy discount coupon, you see an ad from American Veterans for Equal Rights NY telling you that they want to have a Lesbian or Gay veteran volunteer come to pick you up to take you to your next appointment at the VA hospital. Oh my! Imagine the joy of having one of your own looking out for you. Imagine being able to dish queer gossip again with another WWII vet, just for a few hours!
We can make it happen with a
Telephone line $20 per month
No contribution is too small!
AVERNY is a 501c3 non-profit organization. If you are interested in funding any of the above, or would like to propose funding for other related aspects of our organizational goals, pleasecontact us at:
Please make checks to:
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