June 4, 2018 By Tara Law
A homophobic assault on a 25-year-old man took place in Jackson Heights Sunday evening, just hours after the Queens Pride Parade and Festival, which advocates for LGBTQ rights, took place.
Hours before the attack, community groups, entertainers, local politicians and members of the public had marched along 37th Avenue from 89th to 75th Street in celebration of openness, diversity and self-expression.
Grand marshals Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and Elijah Betts, a participant in Queens Community House’s youth group Generation Q, led the parade this year. The festivities, which concluded around 6 p.m., are held annually by the Queens Pride committee.
The post-parade revelry took a dark turn at around 9:55 p.m., however, when two men approached the 25-year-old victim at 83-01 37 Ave.— which stands along the parade route.
The attackers made “anti-sexual orientation statements” to the victim and punched him repeatedly in the face, police said. The pair fled the scene and the victim was left bruised and bloodied.
The police describe the two men as black and about 5 feet 7 inches tall. Neither has been arrested, although the Hate Crime Task Force is currently investigating the incident.
The parade itself began in 1993 after a homophobic attack on Julio Rivera, who was murdered in the schoolyard of P.S. 69. The parade route passes by the school and the corner of 37th Avenue and 78th Street, which is named “Julio Rivera Corner.”
Jose Peralta, who attended the parade, issued a statement condemning the attack and calling it “intolerable.”
“I am outraged that attacks against people because of their sexual orientation or gender expression continue to occur,” Peralta said. “There is no room for hate in our community, especially in one as diverse as Jackson Heights.”