For the 22nd year-in-a-row, the LGBT Network organized its National Coming Out Day #WearTheRibbon Campaign in local schools, workplaces, and organizations. This Campaign builds visibility and awareness, and makes advances in creating schools, workplaces, and organizations that are safer and more inclusive for LGBT people. This Campaign is more vital than ever given the surge of anti-LGBT hate and rhetoric ravaging our communities that aim to keep LGBT youth in the closet – a dangerous outcome.
Using Rainbow and Trans Pride ribbons, posters, and other materials provided by the LGBT Network, the Campaign is implemented by students, teachers, librarians, corporate professionals, and other community leaders to create safe spaces for LGBT people. These visuals serve to remind people of the existence of LGBT people and the continued challenges that exist: 9 out of 10 LGBT youth hear anti-LGBT remarks at school every day and more than 50% of LGBT people aren’t out at work.
This year, the LGBT Network shipped 336 Campaign Kits, including to 240 schools and 96 businesses and organizations. 38% of Kits were delivered to Long Island schools, businesses, and organizations. 55% were delivered to NYC schools, businesses, and organizations. The remaining 7% were out-of-area.
The LGBT Network extends its thanks and gratitude to the 31 households that sponsored a Coming Out Campaign Kit. The support of these donor households helps keep the Kits free for a local school in Long Island and/or NYC. “The generosity of these donors is the backbone of our work – their gifts help LGBT youth feel safe school and make strides towards stopping bullying, and subsequently reduce the risk of suicide,” says LGBT Network CEO Robert Vitelli. 41% of LGBT youth consider suicide.
- Beatrice Alda
- Bonnie Kappel
- Christopher Dolce
- David Thomsen & Joseph Fusco
- Deborah Alexander & Jerry Landecker
- Everett & Rita Flannery
- Harriet Perlmutter
- Jacqueline searing
- Jeff Santonostasi
- Jennifer Meth
- Jennifer Nyx
- JoAnna Fasulo
- Joanne Davila
- Joanne Strauss
- John E. Wiegel
- Judi & Jay Bosworth
- Justin Drzal
- Kathy Rittereiser
- Keith Stewart
- Kenneth Pezanowski
- Michael J. Burne
- Myrna sandbrand
- Northwell Heakth
- Paul Elsner
- Paul Goldsman
- Robert & Leslie Herenstein
- Robert Schaffer & Arther Bailey
- Susan Ullman & Arik Levinson
- Tamara Layne
- Terence Woodside
- Thomas Dinapoli
The LGBT Network thanks the 336 leaders who requested each Campaign Kit and led the charge in their communities. “These are true community organizers who are engaging communities to take a stand, even when it’s scary to do so, and our movement for safe spaces continues thanks to the momentum they create!” says Vitelli.
Click through the arrows below to see campaign participants coming out for safe spaces:
(JTA) — For more than 30 years, I have stood on the frontlines and been an outspoken leader for LGBT people and families. I have been called every name in the book, my life has been threatened because of my being gay, the police insisted on installing a panic button in my house because of these threats. But that hasn’t stopped the organizing work that I continue to do to bring safety and peace to the LGBT community.
And yet, there’s been times when I’m at LGBT events, where the safety that should be a given quickly dissipates because I am Jewish as well. There are unfortunately countless examples, but one that I will never forget is the protest that occurred at the National LGBTQ Task Force’s Creating Change conference I attended in Chicago in 2016. The protest was organized by pro-Palestinian activists who accused A Wider Bridge, a Jewish LGBTQ organization, of “pinkwashing” Israel’s treatment of Palestinians.
As I was getting off the escalator to attend a reception hosted by A Wider Bridge, which featured members of Jerusalem Open House, a gay rights group from Israel, and excited about celebrating my pride as a Jew, I saw a throng of angry protesters disrupting the event. The protesters blocked the entrance to the conference hall, chanted slogans such as “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” and “Zionism’s gotta go” and took over the stage, preventing the Israelis from speaking. I was both horrified and fearful. Horrified that a disgraceful authoritarian act like this could happen at an LGBT gathering about creating change for equality and justice and fearful that if I even attempted to make my way through that blockade I would be physically hurt by members of my own community, simply for being a Jew.
I recalled that fear on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023, a day of unprecedented bloodshed in Israel’s history. It all began on a Jewish holiday morning when hundreds of terrorists managed to break through the barrier separating Israel and Gaza. They spread out to more than 20 different locations, causing devastation. Tragically, they killed thousands of Israelis on the streets, in their homes and even at an outdoor music festival. They slaughtered whole families, killed children and babies in front of their parents, beheaded and burned bodies, and raped young women next to their friends’ dead bodies. They also took more than 200 people hostage and left thousands injured.
The terrorist attacks that killed the most Jews since the Holocaust was committed by Hamas, a terrorist organization that rules the Gaza Strip and whose mission is to destroy Israel and erase its people. It is a call for all in the LGBT community to speak up loudly and boldly in support of Israel. Hamas is an organization that imposes a harsh and intolerant version of Islamic law on Gaza, where homosexuality is illegal and punishable by death. Hamas is an organization that persecutes, tortures and kills LGBT people, or forces them to flee for their lives. Hamas is an organization that denies LGBT people any rights, representation, or recognition.
And more than two weeks later, the silence from many prominent LGBT leaders and groups supporting Israel and condemning the Hamas terrorist attacks is deafening. Those that have made brief statements don’t even mention Hamas, skirt right past antisemitism or lump it in with other intersectional identities as false equivalencies and offer no support to LGBT Jews. It is yet another way to appease other identity groups through silencing LGBT Jewish voices and experiences. To make matters worse, some of these so-called LGBT leaders are protesting Israel and using antisemitic tropes that normalize antisemitism and alienate LGBT Jews. We have stood shoulder to shoulder with our movement in the fight for racial equity, trans rights, reproductive justice and many other issues, and the abandonment from these LGBT groups is both hypocritical and cruel.
Israel is a democracy and beacon of hope and freedom for LGBT people in the Middle East, a region where many countries criminalize and persecute us. Israel is the only country in the region that recognizes same-sex marriages performed abroad, allows same-sex couples to adopt children, protects LGBT people from discrimination and violence, and allows us to serve openly in the military. Israel also has a vibrant and diverse LGBT culture, with Tel Aviv being one of the most gay-friendly cities in the world, hosting an annual Pride parade that attracts hundreds of thousands of participants and visitors. It’s a place where we can be our authentic selves.
Israel’s support for LGBT rights is not a recent phenomenon but is a reflection of its democratic values and respect for human dignity. Israel decriminalized homosexuality in 1988, long before many European countries did. Israel’s Supreme Court has been instrumental in advancing LGBT rights, ruling in favor of recognition of same-sex marriages, parental rights, gender identity, and military service. Israel’s civil society and media have also played a role in raising awareness and acceptance of LGBT issues, with many prominent figures coming out as LGBT or expressing their solidarity. This is what we strive for and honor in the United States. Israel should be no different.
Israel’s LGBT community is not monolithic, but diverse and inclusive, representing different backgrounds, religions, ethnicities and political views. Israel’s LGBT community includes Jews, Arabs, Christians, Muslims, immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers. Israel’s LGBT community also includes Palestinians who have fled from the oppression and violence they face in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, where homosexuality is illegal and punishable by death. Israel provides us with shelter, medical care, legal aid and social support. This is what we honor in the United States. Israel should be no different.
Even democratic societies are imperfect, as I’m sure we can all agree having seen what has taken place throughout the United States these last few years. The onslaught of anti-LGBT bills and laws is frightening. And Israel’s support for LGBT rights is not without its own challenges and obstacles. Israel still does not allow same-sex marriages to be performed within its borders, due to the influence of religious authorities who control marriage laws.
But accusations that it uses its LGBT-friendly image as a tool to divert attention from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, or to impose its Western values on the region, are unfounded and unfair. Israel’s support for LGBT rights is a genuine expression of its identity and values. Israel does not seek to interfere with the internal affairs of other countries or impose its views on them. However, Israel also expects other countries to respect its right to do the same, and to refrain from violating the human rights of LGBT people.
The LGBT community should not be deceived by Hamas’s propaganda or manipulation. Hamas does not care about human rights or humanitarian issues. Hamas does not care about the Palestinians or their aspirations. Hamas only cares about its own power and ideology. Hamas uses the Palestinians as pawns, shields and victims in its war against Israel. Hamas exploits the LGBT community as tools and allies in its campaign against Israel.
Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Weisel said, “We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” The LGBT community and our leaders must take sides, call out evil and clearly stand up in support of Israel and all Jews at this critical time. As history reminds us, silence equals death.
We must remember our history as a LGBT community when gay men were branded with a pink triangle and sent to Nazi concentration camps to die. Whether we are Jewish or not, all LGBT people have a deep connection to Jewish people because it is a reminder of the shared history of oppression and resistance that both of our communities faced under the Nazi regime.
We cannot be silent today or ever. The LGBT community must speak up and stand with Israel in this war because it is the right thing to do. It is the right thing to do for Israel, as Israel is a country that stands with us in our struggle for justice and recognition. It is the right thing to do as Israel offers LGBT people freedom, equality, dignity and security. The LGBT community must support Israel in the war against Hamas because it is a matter of principle and survival.
40 companies visit LGBT Network in Hauppauge to talk about equitable job practices.Continue reading
Bridgehampton, NY, Friday, October 13, 2023 – The LGBT Network will be hosting an Open House on Saturday, October 28, 2023 from 12:00 pm to 2:00 pm at its new, second service site for its Hamptons Center at St. Ann’s Episcopal Church in Bridgehampton. This new site will support an expansion of mental health services and anti-bullying programs to better serve the LGBT community throughout the region in the face of anti-LGBT hate and legislation.
The space at St. Ann’s Episcopal Church, located at 2463 Main Street, supplements the LGBT Network’s first Hamptons Center location at Old Whaler’s Church in Sag Harbor. The October 28th Open House will offer attendees a tour of the new space, to learn about weekly youth groups, expanded mental health services and anti-bullying programs, and upcoming community events.
“It is the LGBT Network’s 30th anniversary, and we are thrilled to further expand access to our vital and life-saving services and programs for the LGBT community with the introduction of this second space for our Hamptons Center,” says LGBT Network CEO Robert Vitelli.
The LGBT Network will use its ‘Hamptons Center – Sag Harbor’ location to hold community events, while it transitions its office space and youth group programs to its new ‘Hamptons Center – Bridgehampton’ site.
The new location will also usher-in a needed expansion of services for the LGBT community.
LAUNCHING MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES IN THE HAMPTONS
71% of LGBTQ youth — including 86% of trans and nonbinary youth — say state laws restricting the rights of LGBTQ young people have negatively impacted their mental health. (The Trevor Project)
Thanks to a new major gift from the William E. and Maude S. Pritchard Charitable Trust, as well as support from hundreds of donors that attended the organization’s Hamptons Summer Kick-Off event providing record-breaking support, the LGBT Network is expanding its mental health counseling services to the Hamptons. It is the first time the LGBT Network is offering its mental health services at a brick-and-mortar location in the Hamptons, thereby increasing access to this requested and needed service. The LGBT Network has been delivering mental health counseling services for more than 28 years.
GROWING ANTI-BULLYING PROGRAMS
Nearly all LGBTQ+ students (97.0%) heard “gay” used in a negative way (e.g., “that’s so gay”) at school; 68.0% heard these remarks frequently or often, and 93.7% reported that they felt distressed because of this language. (GLSEN)
The LGBT Network is also expanding its signature Safe Schools Anti-Bullying programs in schools throughout the Hamptons and East End. The organization is expanding its capacity to deliver more of its signature “LGBT 101” anti-bullying programs for students, while also offering more training programs for teachers and school staff. To further empower LGBT youth, the LGBT Network is expanding programs for after-school GSA clubs with more leadership programs.
The expansion of anti-bullying programs is supported by the organization’s Hamptons Summer Kick-Off event as well as a new grant from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the second in a string of new federal grants awarded to the organization for its community-based outreach, education, and advocacy work.
“This expansion is vital to counter the anti-LGBT hate and legislation that our LGBT youth and their families are seeing and hearing every day,” says Vitelli. “LGBT youth need support, affirmation, and validation right now, and the LGBT Network is answering that call.”
Historic Major Gift to Support Safe Spaces for LGBT Youth
The LGBT Network is proud to announce Stanley Lomangino of Maggio Environmental as the Honoree of the 30th Anniversary Gala to be held on Wednesday, April 17, 2024 at the Crest Hollow Country Club.
In conjunction with accepting the honor of serving as the fundraising leader of the 30th anniversary event, Stanley Lomangino has generously given a $50,000 gift to the LGBT Network to support its work to create safe spaces for LGBT youth, including through the organization’s Safe Schools Anti-Bullying Initiative. This major gift is one of the largest gifts from an individual in the organization’s 30-year history.
Born and raised on Long Island, Stanley, began his career journey in 2005 when he earned his business degree from Bryant University. He spent the next 8 years in the world of finance.
In 2013, Stanley and his brother embarked on an entrepreneurial journey that would redefine their path. They boldly ventured into the world of waste hauling and recycling, with a mission to acquire and manage waste management companies across Nassau and Suffolk counties. As the years passed, their venture evolved into a thriving operation, now employing a dedicated team of over 190 employees with a continued focus on recycling for zero waste.
Amidst all the professional pursuits, Stanley’s personal life took an intriguing turn. At the age of 30, he chose to share his true self with friends and family. This decision to come out marked a significant moment in his life, one filled with courage and fear.
Today, Stanley and his partner, Will Rivera, call Cold Spring Harbor home. Their household wouldn’t be the same without their cherished Jack Russell Terrier, Lucy.
After work, Stanley becomes an adventurer at heart. He enjoys boating, golfing, spending time with his large extended family and is an active member of Young President’s Organization.
NEW YORK LGBT NETWORK TO LAUNCH NEW HOTLINE FOR UNREPORTED HATE CRIMES ON
NATIONAL COMING OUT DAY
Hauppauge, NY – Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison will join New York LGBT Network President Dr. David Kilmnick on the eve of National Coming Out Day to discuss the nationwide rise in anti-LGBTQ hate and extremism. They will be announcing a new hotline for residents of Long Island and New York City for unreported hate crimes involving the LGBT community. The press conference will take place on Tuesday, October 10, 2023 at 2:00pm at LGBT Network Headquarters, 125 Kennedy Drive, Suite 100 in Hauppauge, NY.
The FBI’s supplemental 2021 hate crime statistics shows a sharp rise in these hate crimes as there were 1,110 anti-LGBT hate crime incidents reported, an increase of 6.8% from 2019. Of these incidents, 61.4% were anti-gay (male) bias, 20.9% were anti-lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (mixed group) bias, 11.5% were anti-lesbian bias, and 6.2% were anti-transgender bias.
Dr. David Kilmnick, LGBT Network President says, “it is a frightening time as hate crimes are increasing rapidly and we are fearful it may reach epidemic proportions given the rise of extremist hate groups and anti-LGBT legislation that is spreading like wildfire across the nation. These numbers are a underrepresentation of the true extent of the problem, as many victims do not report their experiences to the police due to fear, stigma, or lack of trust. Many victims of hate crimes are also reluctant to report them to the police as reported crimes do not always lead to arrests, prosecutions, or even a record of hate crimes”.
The new hotline number is 631-LGBT-HLP (631-542-8457). “On National Coming Out Day, we are proud to launch this important hotline in collaboration with Suffolk County Police Department as a vital resource for our community. We know that hate crimes are not only acts of violence, but also acts of intimidation and terror that affect us all. We want to send a clear message to all LGBT community members that we are not alone, that we have each other’s backs and that we will not be silenced by hate. This new hotline will give voice and support to all LGBT people” said Dr. Kilmnick.
National Coming Out Day 2023 is an annual observance dedicated to celebrating and supporting individuals in the LGBT community as they share their authentic selves with the world. The LGBT Network’s annual NCOD #WearTheRbbon Campaign engages over 1 million people to act in creating safer spaces for LGBT people where they live, learn, work, play and pray. https://weartheribbon.org/