Queens gays, lesbians, get public access

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Stanley Reed, host of Q-GLU-TV, sits at a chair ready to air a Queens Gays and Lesbians United (Q-GLU) TV talk show for Public access cable.

The first of two installments this week deals with gay youth in the school system.

Seated on the guest sofa are Daniel Dromen, a gay teacher and Ron Matson, a gay guidance counselor, who are both members of the Lesbian and Gay Teachers Association. Miriam Yeung, a student at Baruch College and organizer of more than 45 public school gay-youth organizations citywide, sits next to a lesbian in the tenth grade whom Yeung has helped to start an organization in her school.

Matson talks to the show's host Reed, of the importance of dealing with gay youths' problems, particularly when they are "coming out in droves," as he puts it.

"It's a real problem that our young people don't get the support they need," Dromen says.

John Azzali, the co-chair of Q-GLU, said the organization was formed in 1991 in reaction to the hate-crime murder of Julio Rivera, a gay Latino. Their stated mission is to "unify gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered persons in Queens." To this end, they are using public access cable to spread their message of information, education, and tolerance.

With the help of independent producer and Q-GLU member John Griffin, Q-GLU is producing videos for Queens public Access at Time/Warner Studios. The program is called Q-GLU TV. Six members are taking a six-week training course, required by the cable company to work on studio production themselves.

Q-GLU applied to Queens public access for a training course on video production. The first show aired in August, and discussed bias crimes and anti-hate crime legislation. Two more shows followed in November that dealt with gay parenting and transgender issues.

Today's two productions are the third and fourth half-hour installments of what the group plans to make a regularly time-slotted series. In order for that to happen they must make two more shows, to have the required six-show minimum, for a regular slot.

The second segment deals with gay seniors, and profiles on organization called Seniors Action in Gay Environment, or SAGE, for short.

SAGE Director Joseph DeFilippis, and Richard Ryan, a SAGE client are the guests. Ryan, 61 told of discovering the organization after getting laid-off from his ware house job after nine years, half a year short of retirement, leaving him devastated.

"I was surprised to see people who were quite youthful," Ryan said, describing some as being in their early 40's.

DeFilippis described SAGE as one of the first organizations to get funding from the Queens City Council, crediting Borough President Claire Shulman (D-Kew Gardens) with supporting the organization.

"For so many, SAGE is a home where they feel safe and welcome in a way they don't always feel in other gay or senior groups," DeFilippis said. The organization provides casework programs, referrals for counseling, recreation and social activities.

"As someone in my 30's, I'm very aware of the indebtedness today's gays and lesbians have to those who have come earlier. They put a lot on the line, there was more to lose 30 years ago," DeFilippis said.

Ryan credits Q-GLU TV with informing him of SAGE's existence, and recounted the hardships gays and lesbians went through in years past. He told of back-door clubs they would frequent, where the gay space would be in the back of the otherwise straight establishment, behind locked doors. if the police raided the place, a warning light would go on, and those dancing would quickly change partners with those of the opposite sex, on the other side of the dance floor.

"I'm envious of today's gay youth who can come out so openly with their parents," Ryan said.

Azzali said two more shows are scheduled to be taped the following week for Queens public television, giving the program enough shows for a regular time slot. To get involved with Q-GLU or Q-GLU-TV, contact them at 205-6605 or e-mail at

Updated 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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