THE NEW YORK Beachgoers who identify as LGBTQ are battling New York City’s intention to demolish a long-defunct tuberculosis hospital that has served as a landmark for the neighbourhood.
Graffiti on the exterior walls reads “KNOW YOUR POWER” and “QUEER TRANS POWER.” In the broken windows of Neponsit Beach Hospital, a former nursing home that has been vacant since 1998, air conditioning units rust. A shrine honours a homosexual icon who was discovered dead off the neighbouring waters and is located on the chain-link fence.
The city plans to demolish the dilapidated building that faces a Queens beach where clothes is optional and replace it with a park. The LGBTQ community has long supported that area of Jacob Riis Park, where people can be seen tanning bare-chested and hosting events like mourning for Ms. Colombia, also known as Oswaldo Gomez, who is thought to have drowned there in 2018.
Books by LGBTQ authors like Audre Lorde and Joan Nestle contributed to the area’s reputation as a sanctuary. Victoria Cruz, 76, who has frequented the beach since the 1960s, said, “We would like to be certain that we will continue to have this space, which has always been our space, where people from the gay community always end up.”
This beach belongs to the public. Cruz, known as the “Queen of Riis,” declared, “And we are the people.” However, what makes that part of the beach more segregated and restricted for the LGBTQ community is seen by locals as an unsightly health risk.