Hundreds of supporters of City Council Speaker Christine Quinn gathered outside the historic Stonewall Inn this evening for a get-out-the-vote rally in support of the woman who is vying to be the city’s first female and openly gay mayor.
As Ms. Quinn struggles to regain her footing just four days before the primary, the former front-runner is increasingly pointing to the historic nature of her candidacy. And the rally, with local LGBT officials, minor celebrities and gay rights activists, was intended to do just that.
Taking the stage to enthusiastic cheers following a host of speakers and a performance by Glee star Cheyenne Jackson, Ms. Quinn spoke passionately and defiantly about what her election would mean to gay and lesbian New Yorkers across the country–and compared the attacks she has faced to the larger struggle for gay rights.
“We’re standing on hallowed ground, on a place where people before us said, ‘We’re not going to get pushed around anymore … We’re not going to take it anymore!’ And you know what?” she asked. “In the course of this campaign, we’ve taken a lot of hits. We’ve been attacked over and over and over by my opponents and by independent expenditures. And we’re right here tonight on ground where people fought back against things much harder than we have …. to send a message: that we’re moving forward!” she declared to loud applause.
Channeling her days as an LGBT and tenants advocate, Ms. Quinn pointed to the recent hate crimes across the city as one of the reasons why electing an openly gay mayor mattered. “One election won’t change that overnight,” she said. “But one election will be an enormous step forward. It will send a message–it will send a message that the LGBT community and all of those great New Yorkers who support us, that we are the majority of this city.”
And as she recognized the family of Tyler Clementi, the gay Rutgers student who committed suicide, Ms. Quinn broke down, her voice cracking, seemingly overwhelmed by the reception as her electoral future hangs in the balance. “You know what? If we turn everybody here and everybody you know and everybody they know out to the polls on Tuesday, people are gonna be shocked and surprised, and we are going to go into this runoff as winners!” she vowed.
Ms. Quinn’s supporters, while touting her historic candidacy, also stressed the campaign’s main talking point: that she is the only candidate with the experience to be mayor.
“In this city we have grown-up problems and it means we need grown-up solutions with a grown-up leader. And Chris Quinn is that grown up who can lead this city!” bellowed Pastor Joseph Tolton, who goes by the Twitter handle “@Gay_By_God,” and described Ms. Quinn’s candidacy as “the next chapter in the gay rights movement.”
Former State Senator Tom Duane, Ms. Quinn’s political mentor, also addressed “the haters”–a passionate group of anti-Quinn advocates that includes several prominent LGBT members. “We all have a little bit of internalized homophobia in us, right? We were all little kids that got made fun of … And for some, of us it grows into this,” he said, gesturing the crowd. “And some of it, it grows into that.”
“Our Christine Quinn: Big dyke! They love her around New York City. And she’s going to be our next mayor!” he concluded. “So let’s get to work!”
After the rally, Ms. Quinn and her wife celebrated with supporters outside the Stonewall, at one point breaking out their dance moves while surrounded by cheering onlookers, as you can see below: