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NYC LGBTQ historic sites project receives ‘excellence’ award

Virtual ceremony took place on Friday

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The Stonewall Inn during New York City Pride (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The National Trust for Historic Development has chosen the New York City LGBT Historic Sites Project as the recipient of its Trustees Award for Organization Excellence.

The LGBT Historic Sites Project is one of nine historic preservation-related organizations that were recognized with awards at a Nov. 4 virtual ceremony that was available to the public.

“The NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project is a nationally recognized and influential cultural heritage initiative and educational resource that identifies and documents diverse extant LGBT sites from the 17th century to 2000,” the announcement says.

“The only permanent organization of its kind in the U.S., the project staff have created an interactive website, National Register nominations, publicans and programs and school educational materials, among other resources,” the announcement continues.

‘Sitting at the intersection of historic preservation and social justice, the organization has been particularly eager to document LGBT sites associated with women and Black, Asian, Latinx, trans and gender-variant communities,” according to the announcement. “In the near future, they hope to prioritize local sites of LGBT history associated with Indigenous and Two-Spirit peoples,” it says. 

In its announcement, the National Trust for Historic Preservation says its National Preservation Awards ceremony is held each year during its annual PastForward Conference, which was held virtually on Nov. 4.

“Each year at the PastForward Conference we come together to recognize those making a real difference in historic preservation,” said Paul Edmondson, president and CEO of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “This year’s recipients embody not just the preservation of American History, but also demonstrate how preserving historic places can play a key role in addressing critical issues of today, including climate change, equality and housing,” Edmondson said. 

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Cecilia Gentili, trans Latina activist and actress, dies at 52

Argentina native passed away on Tuesday

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Cecilia Gentili (Photo courtesy of Gentili's Instagram page)

A towering presence in New York’s transgender community has died.

In a post to her Instagram account on Tuesday, it was announced that the 52-year-old Argentina-born Cecilia Gentili had passed away. 

“Our beloved Cecilia Gentili passed away this morning to continue watching over us in spirit,” the tribute read. “Please be gentle with each other and love one another with ferocity. We will be sharing more updates about services and what is to come in the following days. At this time, we’re asking for privacy, time and space to grieve.”

An undocumented immigrant and then asylum seeker from Argentina, Gentili came to the U.S. pursuing a safer life to live authentically as a trans woman. She lived undocumented for 10 years, hustling, doing sex work which came with drug use. After surviving arrests and an immigration detention, she accessed recovery services and won asylum.

Among Gentili’s accomplishments was her work as a co-founder of her namesake COIN Clinic (Cecilia’s Occupational Inclusion Network) at Callen-Lorde, a New York-based leader in LGBTQ health care. She later was the managing director of policy for the world-renowned GMHC (originally the Gay Men’s Health Crisis.) 

With her background in the sex industry, she was a founding member of Decrim NY, a coalition working toward decriminalization, decarceration and destigmatization of people in the sex trade. Gentili’s work focused on reducing coercion and promoting safety. 

Decrim’s mission statement notes that decriminalization empowers sex workers to screen clients, negotiate condom use and work collaboratively without the fear of criminalization, thereby reducing coercion and promoting safety.

She founded Trans Equity Consulting and collaborated with many major organizations on trans and nonbinary rights. In addition to her advocacy and activist work, Gentili was an actress of note starring in the Netflix/FX hit series “Pose” as Ms. Orlando, the groundbreaking drama about the experiences of trans women of color set against the backdrop of the AIDS crisis in 1980s New York. 

GLAAD notes that Gentili’s memoir, “Faltas,” was published in late 2022 by Little Puss Press, Inc, and won an American Library Association’s 2023 Stonewall Book Award for nonfiction. Her one-woman show “Red Ink” was slated to make a comeback at the Public Theater this April. 

Gentili was also a leading voice among the hundreds of New York Times contributors speaking out against the Times’ biased and inaccurate coverage of trans people and their essential mainstream health care.

GLAAD President Sarah Kate Ellis reacted to news of Gentili’s death posting to X:

“Cecilia Gentili’s death is such a huge loss. She impacted so many, especially those in the trans community in New York City and beyond,” wrote Ellis. “This is the power of one person who used her identity and gifts to help more people be seen and heard. In the art she created, in the stories she shared, in the community she uplifted, in the people she served, Cecilia’s talent and love will never be forgotten.”

Chase Strangio, deputy director for Transgender Justice with the American Civil Liberties Union’s National’s LGBT and HIV Project commented:

“15 years of deep trans love and storytelling. I am forever grateful. We grieved so many losses together. It feels impossible to grieve your loss. I will carry you always. I love you.”

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul with Cecilia Gentili in this undated photo posted to Hochul’s Instagram account.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul posted a picture of the two of them on Instagram and stated: “New York’s LGBTQ+ community has lost a champion in trans icon Cecilia Gentili. As an artist and steadfast activist in the trans rights movement, she helped countless people find love, joy and acceptance. Our hearts are with her loved ones in this difficult time.”

Callen-Lorde released the following statement from CEO Patrick McGovern: “We are shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Cecilia Gentili. Cecilia was a fierce, fearless advocate and a leader, who spoke candidly about her own experiences as a trans woman of color. In doing so, she inspired countless others and truly paved the way for our communities — especially, sex workers and trans women of color — to access high quality and judgment free healthcare. Her legacy will live on through our work at Callen-Lorde and beyond.” 

New York state Sen. Brad Hoylman-Sigal issued a statement describing the work and impact Gentili delivered: “I’m devastated to learn of the passing of Cecilia Gentili, a pathbreaking civil rights activist, healthcare advocate, author and actress. I was honored to work with Cecilia on many issues in Albany as we passed legislation enshrining the civil rights protections for transgender New Yorkers into law, including the Gender Expression Nondiscrimination Act (GENDA), ending the so-called ban on ‘walking while trans,’ eliminating the gay and trans panic defense in our criminal statutes, making New York a safe haven for transgender youth and their parents seeking gender-affirming care, and the creation of the New York State Lorena Borjas TGNB Wellness and Equity Fund. We could not have passed the multitude of bills improving the lives of transgender New Yorkers without her help and guidance. Cecilia was a force of nature who leaves a long trailblazing legacy behind. l will miss her deeply.” 

Details of circumstances surrounding her death were unavailable and announcement of services will be shared at a later date, according to the Instagram post.

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Teenager charged with hate crime in murder of O’Shae Sibley

NYC mayor thanked ‘everyday New Yorkers’ for helping identify suspect

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New York City Mayor Eric Adams, New York Police Department officials and community leaders spoke after a teenager was charged with a hate crime in the deadly stabbing of O'Shae Sibley. (YouTube screenshot of WCBS)

The 17-year-old suspected of fatally stabbing of Black queer dancer O’Shae Sibley a week ago, has been charged with murder as a hate crime and criminal possession of a weapon. New York City Mayor Eric Adams, New York Police Department officials and community leaders spoke at a public press conference held at the location of the deadly stabbing in Brooklyn’s Midwood neighborhood detailing the charges brought in the case.

Adams told those gathered that “[Sibley’s] parents have lost a child in something that was clearly a hate crime.” The mayor then thanked the NYPD reflecting that the apprehension of the teenager was made possible by the contributions of “everyday New Yorkers” in aiding the NYPD with information and tips.

The mayor then addressed the fact that initially it seemed “that the hate was coming from the Muslim community against the LGBTQ+ community — that was in fact not true,” Adams said. “These are both important communities in the City of New York, they contribute to the community, … and both are against any level of hate.” He then pointed out that both of those minority communities have been targeted by hate. “They have been united in fighting any form of hate in this city,” the mayor added.

“This is a city where you are free to express yourself, and that expression should never end with any form of violence,” Adams said.

After the mayor’s remarks, NYPD Assistant Chief of the Detective Bureau Joseph E. Kenny took to the podium and summarized the case facts. 

“As the group began to yell at Mr. Sibley and his friends, they began to call them derogatory names and used homophobic slurs against him,” Kenny said.“ They also made anti-Black statements, all while demanding that they simply stop dancing.”

“This encounter lasts for approximately four minutes, when the victim and the known perpetrator come together,” Kenny continued. “This perpetrator retreats away from Mr. Sibley, while striking him one time with a sharp object, piercing his chest and damaging his heart. Mr. Sibley falls to the sidewalk while the perpetrator flees the scene in a Toyota Highlander.”

Kenny noted the 17-year-old suspect’s identification happened “quickly,” saying he lives in Brooklyn and is a student at a “nearby high school.” 

Kenny said that the apprehension was a joint effort by NYPD’s fugitive task force and the U.S. Marshal’s Fugitive Regional Task Force. The 17-year-old was charged under New York Penal Law § 125.25: Murder in the second degree with a hate crime enhancement, he’s also being charged with criminal possession of a weapon and has been remanded into custody.

Officials update on investigation into death of O’Shae Sibley:

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NYPD: Person of interest in O’Shae Sibley’s murder in custody

Black queer dancer killed at Brooklyn gas station while vogueing

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O’Shae Sibley (Headshot from O'Shae Sibley's Facebook page)

The New York Police Department confirmed that they have a “person of interest” in custody in the stabbing death of 28-year-old Black queer dancer O’Shae Sibley last weekend at a Brooklyn Mobil convenience store and gas station. An NYPD spokesperson told the Washington Blade that no charges have been made yet.

The NYPD’s 66th Precinct homicide investigators along with detectives from the NYPD Hate Crime Task Force had been searching for a 17-year-old suspect, who had been seen on surveillance video footage arguing with the victim prior to Sibley being stabbed. The police spokesperson would not confirm if the person in custody is the suspect detectives were searching for.

The arrest was also confirmed by New York City Councilmember Inna Vernikov, whose district includes the convenience store and gas station in the Midwood neighborhood where Sibley was murdered.

According to witnesses and the NYPD, Sibley and a group of his friends performed an impromptu voguing dance session while refueling after a day trip to the Jersey Shore. The teenage suspect and several others had emerged from the convenience mart and engaged Sibley using profanities and homophobic epithets.

It was later disclosed to the media that Sibley and the group of his friends were dancing to Beyoncé’s “Renaissance” album, a fact noted by the 41-year-old singer-songwriter who paid tribute to the dancer on her website.

“The choruses of Big Apple Performing Arts (BAPA) including the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus, Youth Pride Chorus, and Tonewall are deeply saddened and outraged by the tragic killing of O’Shae Sibley, a 28-year old Black gay man who was murdered at a Mobil gas station in Brooklyn for simply voguing. Vogue is a beautiful style of dance with origins in the queer community of color,” NYCGMC Chair Troy Blackwell said in a statement released Friday.

“O’Shae was a shining light to his family and friends, especially those in the dance community. Everyone should be able to exist and artistically express themselves without fear of harm. This is why the choruses of BAPA not only strive to cultivate a safe space for artists, but combat homophobia through music and advocate for protections for LGBTQ people,” Blackwell continued.

“This hate crime is part of a pattern of physical violence that continues to disproportionately impact members of the LGBTQ community. An attack against one of us is an attack against all of us and in times of tragedy, silence is not an option. It never has been and never will be. We stand in solidarity with New York City’s LGBTQ community and demand justice for O’Shae,” he added.

The dancer’s death is being investigated as a potential bias crime and occurs as GLAAD and the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism report there were 145 incidents of anti-LGBTQ violence, harassment and vandalism during Pride month this year in the U.S.

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