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22 March 2006

Comments

Bobby

No disprespect to my young Black and Latino sisters and brothers, but the residents have a point. THEY ARE LOUD AS HELL. So loud, in fact, that you literally cannot hear yourself speaking as you walk past.

I could imagine that, at 3am when you're trying to sleep because you have to wake up at 7 for work, the noise is UNBEARABLE.

Then again, what came first: The noise or the residents?

And it's not just the gay kids. Ride the subway or the bus at 3pm. The kids are incredibly LOUD. I guess because they feel unheard.

That, or their parents simply never taught them appropriate public behavior.

Follow a rude child home and see if someone rude doesn't answer the door.

TheRevKev

Rod.
You know I'm not normally one to spark controversy, but I think I have to come down with you on the side of the residents. It's about responsibility SOMEWHERE. Having lived on the corner of Broad and Market Streets in Newark, and rallied at the spot where SAKIA GUNN was murdered AT 3:30AM, I often wonder when we are going to take responsibility for our gay youth.

THE PARK IS OPEN UNTIL 1 AM! If the activists have their way, it would be open until 4AM! I am not about to support a mandate that would have young people in the streets until that hour, that would give predators direct access to have at them in their vulnerable/searching/abandoned state and THESE KIDS NEED TO BE AT HOME SOMEWHERE, SAFE!

If the issue is that they have been kicked out of homes and don't have somewhere to be, safe, then THAT IS THE CONCERN OF THE GREATER GAY AND LESBIAN COMMUNITY that was so vehement about EVERYONE BEING OUT! These kids are out and proud, but they are still searching for culture and community and self, and I would hate to think that the only place that they can find it is on the Pier at 4AM.

I am sick and tired of hearing stories from grown men who tell of their first "experience" at 14 or 15 with a "29" year old man and they think it was a first love! THAT IS RAPE AND WE HAVE TO STOP ACTING LIKE WE DON'T KNOW THAT GROWN MEN STALK THESE YOUNG, OFTTIMMES BEAUTIFUL AND YET STILL WET BEHIND THE EARS AND VULNERABLE YOUNG BOYS. We have to act like we care about the young female couples who are on the streets at 2AM because they don't have anywhere else to just BE, IN LOVE.

If we want to do something, as a community, how about we find a way to open our hearts and our community center so that these youth have somewhere safe to be.

I am not siding with the neighbors, as much as really concerned about young people on the streets and the things that wouldn't mind meeting them there at that hour.

If I had known that a 30 year old MAN would have stabbed a young girl because she and her girlfriend wouldn't go with him, I WOULD HAVE LET SAKIA GUNN SLEEP IN MY HOME THAT NIGHT. I would rather have fought with her mother in the morning about her sleeping in a stranger's space who cared than have to have eulogized her.

In Love, I Show Concern,
KEVIN

Kai in NYC

This is one of the those issues that completely stump me. Those kids can behave unbelievably obnoxiously, unbearably so, and I know if I lived in that neighborhood all my pretty activist philosphizing would vanish in a flash.

But. Where the hell else are they suppose to go? Where else can they gather, feel safe and have a space that feels like their own. I won't get into all the various ways that society has beats them down--we already know, since most of us have experienced it first time.

Kev is on that right track that we (or somebody with more resources than I have) needs to create a viable alternative. "Just go home!" sounds a lot to me like "Let them eat cake!"

Kai in NYC

DLTop N ATL

Kai in NYC asks: "But. Where the hell else are they suppose to go? Where else can they gather, feel safe and have a space that feels like their own."
At 1:00am in the morning, a teen should be at HOME. Most crimes committed against black teens occur after 10:00pm.
Props to TheRevKev for a great comment.

Derrick from Philly

I loved visiting the pier until 4:00a.m during Gay Pride 1996. It was the only part of the trip I liked. But, I thought the young kids only hung out on the pier on weekend nights? Seven nights a week? Oh, my.

Bernie

This is a very complex issue with no simple solutions.

On the one hand, the residents have a right to peace and quiet in their neighborhood. I don't think anyone can fault them for that. If it were any other neighborhood in any other part of the city, another group of residents would come to the same conclusion were they faced with constant noise from non-residents.

As I have been saying for years, the perception of Greenwich Village as a 'gay mecca' has not been the reality since the AIDS arrived. AIDS brought death to many long-time gay residents there, which freed up housing, where in a city like New York, apartments and houses were snapped up quickly. Gentrification has transformed this so-called gay mecca into just another yuppie conclave. Gay youth going there from other parts of the city and metropolitan area in search of what once was are sadly mistaken. The Pier culture of the 70's and 80's has given way to what is now a city-run park.

But those who wish these kids would go home, need to understand that for most of them there is also no home to go home to. A great many are living on the streets with no place to go. It is not just a gay community issue, but a city-wide issue. Parents should stop kicking their kids out into the streets just for being gay, but if they do, government, religious, non-profit and private sector groups need to create affordable supportive housing to help these kids.

West Village residents and gay youth need to look at the bigger picture and both advocate for long-term solutions. As homeowners, the residents can get the attention of political leaders, and as those most affected, gay youth can explain how a lack of safe alternatives has caused them to find community the only way they know how.

Derrick from Philly

Thanks, Bernie. I forgot we're talking about teenagers who are homeless and gay. Their former borough neighborhoods probably aren't safe for them, especially during the warm months. It aint just about hangin' out till four in the morning--havin' a good time.

Gil

Is there a solution? The world has changed. When I got kicked out 20 years ago, I was 12, and I was living on the streets for a couple weeks. But back then, 1) we, the kids, had some manners. We knew not to yell and shout at the wee hours of the morning 'cuz regular people sleep. 2) a somewhat safer world with less murderers and crazy people, not particularly out there trying to kill you.

Everything else stayed the same:

Kids been gettin' kicked out since eternity. Some parents don't wanna deal. Now it's just more visible because they're loud as all hell and don't care if it's 3 AM.

And from my point of view, people didn't - and don't - care about these kids on the streets until they become an annoying, obnoxious problem. Then it's "go home!" There ain't a "home" to go to. Can't depend on government/other groups to do something. They haven't and they never will. Yeah you get your support during normal business hours. Then what?

So now that the kids are too loud (unfortunately, they really are loud these days), people get pissy and all about "finding a solution".

But nobody offered any of them a place to call "home".

david

Sorry Rod, but you're wrong on this one...

This is NOT about street manners, it's about gentrification. These kids did not suddenly become "loud and obnoxious" last week - they have always been this way and no one complained. But when the moneyed folks moved in, their safe space became threathened.

Hanging out at the Piers past midnight is NOT exactly what I consider fabulous partying... however, those kids should not be kicked out unless there is a place for them to move too (perhaps somewhere decidedly hipster and tolerant).

These residents knew exactly what kind of neighbourhood they were moving into when they made their real estate investments. Besides, if they can afford to live in that area, they can probably afford to move out (or buy some sound proofing). If a loud train ran right next to their fancy apartments, would they ask the city government to remove it or just deal? Rich folks have too many privileges already - let's not give them another privilege at the expense of poor homeless minority gay youth.

TheRevKev

David
I understand, man, I overstand what you are saying about the neighborhood and such. However, at the end of the day, these KIDS are KIDS and they should BE AT HOME and if they don't have homes to which to return, THAT IS THE PROBLEM! Not gentrification, because that only means that BEFORE they were SLUMS with SLUM MENTALITY and now that the neighborhood has come up, they should allow the elements?

Rich folks have too many privileges and gay folks can be way too acquiscent and dismissive of things like order. The truth is that KIDS SHOULD BE AT HOME. If SOMEBODY wants to be accountable for SOMETHING then it should be THE CHILDREN! That IS what these "sexual minority youth" are...THEY ARE CHILDREN!

Rod

David, I think your comments are somewhat simplistic. First of all, I'm hardly rich. Second, we're talking about a neighborhood, not a public park and even those must close at some time. It's important to find a home for those who need one, but, randomly wilding out up and down Washington or Greenwich Streets at 5am is hardly the answer to their problems. It's even more ridiculous because much of the behavior that you see in the Vill would never be pulled in the Bronx or Brooklyn. So, the argument becomes that the West Vill is a "safe space" to act obnoxious and flamboyant.

Many of the kids are very loud, rude and obnoxious. There are street fights at 5 and 6am, camping out in doorways, many kids heckle neighbors, loud music under windows, trannie hookers fighting ... This happens nightly on the side streets. There's no redemptive value to those rationalizing those actions if we want these kids to grow up and become valuable members of society.

Finally, your comments are most odd. My impression from your blog is that you were monied and lived in one of Manhattan's better neighborhoods? The wilding out pier queens would hardly be accepted on the UES.

nathans

What do we want as people really? Since when does being gay excuse you from being a child? I have been down in the village and i have seen these very young gays out at all hours getting up to god knows what. And I assure you that few if any are homeless. Do we have diffrent expectations of behaviour because they are gay. I don't! I am in total agreement with Rod on this one! This has nothing to do with race unless being loud and obnoxious in a residential area at 3am is a BLACK THING. School me...is it???

Brokeassnigga

The kids are NOT alright at 4 a.m. but let's leave their behavior to the ones who originally had them and threw them out. Obviously they feel they have no place in society so I really don't expect them to mend their ways anymore than I expect the Marines to draft Clay Aiken. Specifically a gentrification issue because 3 years after the piers have been turned into a city park and new developments have been built we're hearing complaints. This is about people with money complaining about where they live. The people with money in this neighborhood want to displace those they view as undesirable during all but regular business hours. In the years I hung out on the strip and connecting pier there was never a problem. Now that there's more black and brown faces coming down there to be together in a safe space NOW it's a problem. This is reason why I'm beginning to hate New York. I've a solution: Why don't you all move out to Hoboken. It's much quieter, got more space, and you can raise your families there. Truthfully, It's a very big city and if you can afford to live wherever I don't want to hear your inncessant whining. God knows I don't complain when you Pier 1 hording yuppies move on my block in Brooklyn prompting rent hikes.

Michael-Vincent Crea, Pastor

There are many concerns and points of view with veracity, however, we
adults have forsaken our children to fend for themselves in so many areas of life, as people just point
fingers rather than lend, join and
yes, hold hands with our youth.

I love the fact that they have the piers, yet, back in the day they
stayed mostly along the rail and under the trees, now, removed with the more 'sterilized' environment.

I went to the precinct to protest
when on a Saturday afternoon a cop
gave a ticket to one of our trannies performing with a small
boom box. Police told her that the people across the street said there was too much noise at 3 PM [next to West Street!], on the same afternoon the city was raking in bucks, renting out our largest public park [Central]closed for a Disney movie!

On my birthday, while roller skating to the younger folks music
on the old cement slab on the pier, police shut us down again on in broad daylight! It was the very
last time, as they put up the fence
to keep us off. At Gay Pride, last
year, they did not let anyone on the piers all day! Remember: the Police are for the protection of those property and privileged [mostly white] people and not our LGBT kids, teens or young men, especially!

Caring creates community, no matter
age, income or innate attributes of any kind. So, if one lives in the area, call if you must, but I ask what are you contributing to the care of OUR kids? I had to refer a young (19)brutha, kicked out by his Bronx mom last Saturday,
to a homeless centre to stay the weekend, until he could go to Safe Horizons LGBT weekday drop-in!

Yes, I have corrected children on our buses in Harlem, saying stuff of one another's mothers that would
have had you go home torn up! Yes, I've heard loud, really rude kids of all flavas and feelings almost
'derail' the subway that you'd want
to throw their mama & papa from the train. Yes, I could go out only
on Fridays and Saturdays but had a curfew at Midnight even for a high school dance. That's too strict, I am the original 'Cinderfella'!

Most times, wisdom need only be whispered to be heard. Most, not all, kids respond more positively when asked with respect, often lacking in many of their adult relationships.

So, try it! Just paying taxes and a
tithe neither makes one a good citizen or spiritual believer.

Our own actions can, with patience for our LGBT youth, speak louder, opening two-way communications within our commmunities rather than being out of home, out of neighborhoods, out of bed and OUT withOUT LGBT elders who truly care!

Most of all: DO NOT BE AFRAID,
FEARFUL OR ANGRY OF AND TOWARD OUR
CHILDREN [MANY ARE!] Let ALL of US
try to LISTEN, LEARN, LOVE & TRULY
LIBERATE OURSELVES & OUR CHILDREN:
MORE as the 'Good Samaritan,' a model of a LOVING neighbor, caring for one NOT one's own!

Michael-Vincent Crea, Pastor
One World Life Systems


rod townsend

The last time I was on Christopher Street (last fall) the noise problem was not prissy pier queens. It was bears. Loud drunk bears. At Ty's. At The Hangar. At The Dugout. The street was filled with cars honking and bears weaving down the street blocking traffic and yelling. They were also urinating in the streets and exposing themselves.

Where is the outrage about drunk, white, middle-management boys making noise?

taylor Siluwé

I was introduced to ‘The Pier’ in ’85. Now in the mid-eighties … the Pier was wild.

Ahhh … fond memories. The Pier was the Pier then. But what I remember most was that all the older children then would lament how the Pier had changed and that it was nothing like the decadent good old days.

I was nineteen and had just bought a new Trans-Am. I would take off the T-Tops and drive onto the Pier stereo thumpin’ like I had no sense, friends hanging all out of the car, case of beer in the truck. There would be hundreds of other cars out there too … doing the same thing.

The Pier was party central. So was Christopher St., and the Vill in general, and according to the old ‘girls’ then … it was no where near as wild as their ‘good ol days’.

So what does this all boil down to?

Fuck those people. They’re either new heads in the neighbor who are like those who move near the airport and bitch about the planes … or … they’re former homos who usta party but now have gotten settled and want to poo-poo on the party … like ex-smokers who whine when someone lights up down the block. I hate them all.

I didn’t respond to this at first because I couldn’t come up with a fair solution. People shouldn’t have to deal with noise all night. But then again, the village has always been noisy and wild. Should people on Bourbon St. be allowed to poo-poo on Mardi Gras? Shouldn’t they just move?

Those Pier kids … and I was never truly one of them, I just partied there, but I had a job, a car, a home to go to … but those real Pier kids, who are outcasts everywhere else but the Vill, have no where to go and just BE.

I feel for the people there … but I can’t help but think the darkening of the crowd of youth has something to do with it. But the pier is what it is. And I guess critics can say that 42nd St was once decadent and now its Disney … but that’s another lengthy post entirely on a society’s need for its red-light districts.

Okay … I’ve rambled without my morning coffee. Back to your regular programming.

rod townsend

Further outrage.

I can't make the post I want on this because for some reason a google image search for "pier queen" is not serving up anything like what I wanted.

david

Rod,

In retrospect, I should have framed my comment better. This is not a personal attack on you. I love your blog and think you’re perfect; really, you can’t do wrong in my eyes. I left that comment to present the other side of the argument and to foster debate. It’s too easy to ask the kids to “tone down” or “get out”. When someone is advocating an easy fix to a complex social problem, be assured that some oppression is involved.

That I lived in a fancy Manhattan neighborhood and work with rich uppity folks has not blinded my eye to issues that affect those who might not be as privileged – instead, it has made me more conscious of how easy it is for rich folk to oppress poorer folk, especially in purely capitalist economies.

I still stand by my initial comment. The Piers have been noisy for years; it has become a legacy. We should NOT let that part of our queer culture die in the name of gentrification, just as we would not shut down the subway along Park Avenue to prevent those fancy apartments from rattling (or like someone wrote earlier, close down Bourbon St. because residents are allergic to Ambien/Lunesta). I am all for regulation (really, why do those kids want to be out there at 4AM anyway?) but an outright closing just smacks of oppression.

Bobby

Kevin,

You better PREACH!

Why are we figthing to keep 15 and 16 year-olds in the STREET until 4am?

Why are we not providing these CHILDREN with a haven, a stable home, a place where they can be SAFE?

They CANNOT be safe on the Pier until 4 o'clock in the morning.

Ama

I'm young still; almost 21, but I side with Rod on this one sorta. The pier shouldn't be open longer, but there should be somewhere for teens to go.

Whether it be a late night center or a home operated from 10 pm to - 7 am, there needs to be something. I don't hang out on the streets period because I know it's not safe. That's how I was raised. You never know what can happen to you. However, for the youth, it's sometimes more than having a home. It's about being free to be yourself. Sometimes home is the very cage you're trying to escape from. If you can't be yourself at home or you feel unwanted (not necessarily kicked out), you don't want to be there and would rather be with your "people".

I know alotta people who go to the pier, but they only go because they think it's the "in" thing to do. It's like a free gay club, but people are just too loud nowadays with no manners.

If you want the youth off the street BUT somewhere safe & fun where they feel wanted & free, then the LGBT community has to take care of its own because no one else will. That's the way it's always been...

Wari Shade

No, it's about more than prejudice. Let me explain. Back in 1985, I showed up on that very same pier as a kid of 16.

Oh, not exactly the very same pier, much has changed since then. That pier was old, dilapidated, made of wooden boards that would literally rot beneath you as you walked. It was grimey and garbabe strewn and it was inhabited on any given hot summer night by thousands of LGBT youth of all shades, races and backgrounds (as well as the odd celebrity walking around--I remember seeing Dr. Ruth and being propositioned by Grace Jones).

The pier was claimed by a number of groups along it's length. But most notably the gay voguing houses. One, the Xtravaganzas, had their house moniker spray painted in HUGE blue letters on the pier foot path. There were voguing battles, fights, knife attacks, bottles swung, and even hammers slammed on peoples' skulls (yes, that was ME).

Today's kids are very different than those of the 80s. Most are not homeless like so many of us were back then. Many do not have to exchange sex for money like so many of us did back then. And by and large, the gay voguing houses no longer rule and impose their own form of social order.

But not only that has changed, but the residents themselves have changed. Back then, the average West Villager was apt to be a gay man renting an apartment. Today, it is a white, straight couple or older, white resident who no longer rents but OWNS their coop or condo apartment. This is the heart of the issue. These people have PROPERTY to protect and these people have, in many cases, moved into the area as an investment from places that have absolutely no resemblance to the West Vill. They don't know our history and culture and could hardly care. They don't understand the importance of this strip as a coming of age ritual for many LGBT youth; in particular, LGBT youth of color.

Yes, race is an issue. The LGBT youths that have traditionally congregated at the pier have always been predominantly black and latino. They have to be. These are the same kids that live in neighborhoods where being openly gay is just NOT the thing to do. I remember my very first night at that pier, stepping out of my friend Luis' Cougar rental (you could park right up to the water back then) and just breathing. I was breathing. Breathing and not scared. And totally surrounded by others just like me who were living, openly, gleefully, freely...and not scared.

The newcomers want us to be scared again. Don't let it happen. For us there's way to much to lose. For them, they only have property values to gain.

WShade

Wari Shade

Oh, and those of you that continue to scream for "creating a viable alternative", you miss the point by a wide margin. Call it not-seeing-the forest-for-the-trees syndrome.

For these kids (just like it was for me and my generation) this IS THE viable alternative. It's a scene we (and they) have created for themselves, by themselves. I doubt any "predator" would have wanted to risk life and limb in this scene back in 1985 and I doubt they would today. There have been way too many cliques on that pier and one thing they have always had in common is that they close ranks at the merest sign of danger and God help whoever dares to bring it.

Besides, anything else offered to them would be rejected out of hand. I know we did when they offered us the use of the Carmine Street Pool recreation area. It just wasn't any fun getting in there if we were allowed (or corraled, as it were), we would rather sneak in over the gate in the middle of the night for a quick skinny dip on a hot summer night.

And we did.

WShade

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