‘You hid in the shadows.’ Long Islanders recall early days of gay rights movement

The LGBT Network is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year and says it is important to learn from where the community has come from through the people that lived it.

News 12 Staff

Jun 5, 2023, 9:43 PM

Updated 375 days ago

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Long Island seniors joined the LGBT Network Monday to share their perspective seeing the changes in gay rights over the past several decades.
Joey Rella, of Farmingdale, came out when he was 19, and says things use to be a lot different LGBTQ members.
“You hid in the shadows back in those days in the ‘60s and the early ‘70s,” Rella says.
He says witnessing Stonewall was a turning point for him, and he joined the Gay Liberation Front at the very beginning of the gay rights movement.
Georgie Hartman, of South Huntington, says he went to his first gay rights march in 1975. He says it was very small going down 7th Avenue with one little lane ending in Central Park.
Now, he says the parade is a lot grander with more people accepting them for who they are.
“Marching down 5th Avenue in this new century was mindboggling to me, to see the amount of people cheering us on,” Hartman says.
The LGBT Network is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year and says it is important to learn from where the community has come from through the people that lived it.
“We not only learn about history and the work that they’ve done to get us to where we’re at today, but also to learn to take that work and use it,” says President of LGBT Network David Kilmnick. “So, that we can move forward in what we need to do today to make sure that we don’t have any rollbacks over the rights that they help us gain.”


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