Citation of Honor from Queens Borough President Melinda Katz

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz along with Councilmembers Daniel Dromm and Jimmy Van Bramer will be giving me a Citation of Honor for my work on Julio of Jackson melissa katzHeights this evening at 6pm at Queens Borough Hall.

My work will be recognized alongside the work of four community leaders doing some truly important work.

Mohamed Q. Amin – Founder and Executive Director of the Caribbean Equality Project (CEP), a non-profit Caribbean-oriented LGBTQ organization based in Queens.

Justin Monaco – Middle school Social Studies teacher who has led workshops on incorporating LGBT issues into NYC classrooms.

Brandon W. Mosley – Creative Director of Access Queens, which helps Queens residents navigate transit challenges along the #7 line.

Dr. Matt Oransky – Clinical psychologist at the Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center who works with patients who have a history of trauma and with transgender, questioning and gender non-conforming youth.

I am greatly honored and pleased to have my work recognized in such good company.


Two screenings in Queens!

We are holding two screenings of Julio of Jackson Heights on June 30 and July 1, 2016!

Both screenings are free and open to the public, though we are requesting that people consider making a support contribution to the Action and Education Campaign. Here are the screening details…  julio cropped

June 30, Thursday at 7:00 pm – Elmhurst Hosptial Auditorium (Room A1 – 22) at 79-01 Broadway in Elmhurst, Queens. Filmmaker present and screening followed by a discussion.

July 1, Friday, at 7:00 pm – Queens Theatre in the Park in Flushing Meadow Park! This link will tell you how to get to Queens Theatre. The screening is free but reservations are highly recommended as capacity is limited. Reservations can be made by emailing or calling the box office (718) 760-0064 Tuesday – Friday, 12pm to 6pm.

Please, write in the comments section should you have any questions. And feel free to spread the word about the screenings with anyone you think might like to see it!


Why I photograph Pride Parades

There is only so much a photograph can do. It generally offers very limited context, no history within its frame and little to no written language.


As the kind of person who makes work that is consciously political, I have often found photography frustrating. Despite the important role that photography has played in history – Lewis Hine, Dorothea Lange, Roy DeCarava – in the end, it seems that most of the time we want photographs that fascinate us or with which we identify. Even the newspapers arepride02 limited in what they will present. We must recognize the image. Rarely are we expected to read the image, to learn something from the image, to know the image.

Maybe it is my own limitation, but one of the main reasons that I finally decided to make a film about the murder of Julio Rivera was because I felt that people could no longer see that history in the Queens Pride Parade. I felt unable to photograph the history that was, for me, the great weight and substance of the parade.

For four years, I even held photographic exhibitions of my work on the day of the Queens Pride Parade on the fence of P.S. 69. I would go early in the morning and tape up about 25 – 30 large prints, and I would always put up a text as well entitled, “For those of you who don’t know…” which was a few paragraphs about the murder of Julio and how that murder led directly pride03to the creation of the parade. I felt maybe this might help people look at the photographs differently.

This week, as the Heritage of Pride Parade will march through Manhattan for the 46th year in a row, in the wake of the massacre at Pulse in Orlando, Florida, I found myself imagining how the parade would be this weekend: the heavy feelings of sadness, commitment and struggle, of anger and resistance. The need to endure through all of this, through gay bashings, through denial of civil rights, pride04through lack of human rights, through society’s indifference in the face of AIDS, through this most recent, horrific reminder of how far we have to go as a society, through the day to day cruelties and disdain that many of my dear friends have to confront, that linger in the air around them all the time, and that I will never have to suffer.

And I turned back to photographs I took over twenty years ago of the parades in Manhattan in 1995 and 1994, the 25th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. Honestly, I don’t know what good this work does, but I am comforted that I was there some of the time and able to photograph us coming together in solidarity, in struggle, and in our humanness.




















Orlando: opportunities to show solidarity

There have been so many important and thoughtful things written in the past few days in response to the mass murder at Pulse in Orlando and I am using this blog today as a means to share some of the posts and emails that I personally found very moving and helpful.

Elise McCave of BritDocs wrote an email that included information on where to send money for the families of victims such as Pulse Victims Fund and Muslims United with Victims of Pulse Shooting.


She urged people to push their politicians on gun control policy and suggested that each of us, “Speak to someone today who you’ve never met before, take the time to get to know someone you think looks different to you, and be reminded that we are similar in far more ways than we are different.”

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Photo of Tel Aviv Pride Parade with Lea Delaria and Alan Cummings by Cara Stern


My dear cousin, Cara Stern, was in Kyiv for the first, successful “March of Equality”: 5,000 police securing the safety of the 1,000 participants, “amidst the threat of bloodshed and

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Photo from Kiev “March for Equality” by Cara Stern

the shadow of violence last year.” A stark contrast to the march she had attended with 200,000 people in Tel Aviv just two weeks earlier.

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Photo from Kiev “March for Equality” by Cara Stern


Photo from Kyiv “March for Equality” by Cara Stern





Finally, I wanted to repost in its entirety the text written by Edgar Rivera Colon on Facebook about his experience at the vigil held in front of the Stonewall Inn on Sunday night…



I went to the vigil last night in front of the Stonewall Inn. The crowd was diverse, intergenerational, and loving. The usual elected officials showed up with their blather. The crowd kept on shouting that the names of our dead be read and it eventually happened at the end of the vigil.

There was no simultaneous Spanish translation which was an insult to all the Latin@ LGBTQ folks there. Much to his credit, Mayor De Blasio addressed those gathered in his haltering Spanish as a sign of respect.

A south Asian trans sister spoke and centered the events in an intersectional analysis and racism. Her clarity was a breathe of fresh air. The young folks — God bless them —were vocal which was all to the good.

As the names were read, the crowd without prompting shouted “Presente!” in anger, love, and tears. The repetition of that phrase took me back to El Salvador and Nicaragua during the late 1980’s where I lived and worked with revolutionary Christians and their allies. Crowds in anger and love would intone those words for their beloved ones killed by the war machine the US had let loose on those poor small countries and their social justice movements.

I thought of Dr. King’s words that America was the greatest purveyor of violence in the world with it’s deadly trinity of racism, inexcusable poverty, and militarism. I’m sure Dr. King was with us yesterday and speaking the words of homophobia, transphobia, and Islamophobia.

Surely, in the moral economy of the universe, a nation cannot expect to visit death and destruction on whole peoples throughout the globe and expect its institutions not to reproduce that violence in everyday life. Consider the bloodbath that was Latin America in the 20th century at the behest of US economic and political elites. Did we really think those practices would cease and desist within our borders and institutional life? What happened to our Latin@ and Black LGBTQ beloveds in Orlando is related directly to violence and hatred we have exported and stoked these many years.

At the end of the vigil, I stood with my militant lesbian sisters and considered that we have probably dozens and dozens of vigils between us and we keep on fighting the good fight to make this planet safe for love not for the blowhard politicians, their acolytes, and security details, but for those teary-eyed, angry young LGBTQ folks and those Latin@s queers waving their national flags hoping to hear a word of comfort in their mother tongues and the old ACT UP militants and our beautiful allies.

Suddenly, I knew I had been here before. Was it at a protest against police brutality? A Black Lives Matter March across the Brooklyn Bridge? Maybe it was the warmth of the crowd at Sylvia Rivera’s funeral march down to the Christopher Street Piers? I thought of the words of TS Elliot:

“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.”


The deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

As an article from Libby Nelson at noted, the mass shooting at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, earlier today, was not only the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, but also the deadliest anti-LGBTQ hate crime in U.S. history. Prior to this, the largest number of people murdered in an anti-LGBTQ hate crime was the 1973 arson of the Upstairs Lounge in New Orelans in 1973.

Just hours after Omar Mateen killed 50 people at the nighclub, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick tweeted a ye shall sow, so shall ye reap quotation, implying that the people murdered deserved this fate.

We must continue to unite and struggle against homophobia and, as journalist, educator and activist Andy Humm noted on Facebook today, we must keep in the forefront of all of this that this is a hate crime against LGBTQ people. This happened in Florida where Governor Rick Scott has a history of dodging discussion on LGBTQ rights related issues. We must demand that the leadership of Florida call this attack for what it is: homophobia. Yes, from all the evidence so far, the killer seems to have been a mentally unstable, violent person who believed he was acting upon religious conviction, but what group did he target to attack? And where do we hear messages against LGBTQ people?

Please, if you are in New York City today, show up for the Vigil at Sheridan Square in the West Village at 6pm, or in Jackson Heights at Diversity Plaza.

Wherever you are, I urge you to find out if there is an event in your area. We need to show support, solidarity and numbers in the face of this attack.


Queens Pride Committee to Double Contributions!

The Queens Pride Committee – the group that organizes the Annual Queens Pride Parade – has created a matching grant of up to $2,500 to support the Action and Education


All photos by Luisa Pineda-Bueno / LuluSolei Photography

Campaign! For every contribution given by supporters in the month of June, the Queens Pride Committee will match that contribution, up to a grand total of $2,500. So, your contribution value will be doubled.


For example, if 25 of you can contribute $100, or 50 of you can contribute $50 (just to illustrate … I am sure all of you can do the math) over the next three weeks, the campaign will raise $5,000 putting it more than two-thirds of the way to achieving the first goal of the campaign’s three fund raising goals.


Ms. Colombia, La Paisa

Please, if you can, give your support, or spread the word to anyone else you think may be interested in supporting or learning about this work.

And please keep scrolling down for more great photographs of this year’s Queens Pride Parade by Luisa Pineda-Bueno / LuluSolei Photography!



Click here to get your support DOUBLED!







Crystal Waters


Mayor de Blasio and members of the City Council


Andrew Ronan of the Pride Committee interviewed for NY1







Memories of the First Queens Pride Parade

This Sunday, June 5, 2016, LGBTQ people, their friends, families and guests will march and dance down 37th Avenue in Jackson Heights, Queens for the 24th Annual Pride Parade.qp93wp03_lowres

Twenty-three years ago, on June 6, 1993, I participated in the very first parade as a photojournalist. Danny Dromm, the festival founder, recently reminded me that the first time we met was at the press conference they held a few days before the parade. I had always remembered (incorrectly) that we met at the parade and had only spoken on the phone prior to that. I asked Danny, how he remembered me from the press conference and he answered, “You were the only one who came!”

My own impressions of that first parade are vague. I remember arriving and not being sure qp93wp06_lowreswhat to photograph, how to approach people, as everyone was preparing to march. On one hand, this was a public event and clearly anyone participating was being “out,” but on the other hand I sensed that there were many people for whom this was a big decision, and maybe they weren’t comfortable with possibly being in a newspaper. This was not the big Manhattan parade; this was a small town parade down main street.

The first people I remember approaching were the Sirens Women’s Motorcycle Club of New York City.

I awkwardly approached holding my camera, starting to gesture to ask if I could photograph them, and one of the members said to me before I could get a word out, “We’re the Sirens. Just make sure not to write ‘Dykes on Bikes’ in the paper.” In fact, the picture I took of her an hour later leading the parade was the one published in the Daily News the next day.


Gliced Irrizary of the Sirens

(Many years later, at the 2011Heritage of Pride Parade, the year the Marriage Equality Act was passed, I stood next to her on Fifth Avenue, the sky between the buildings brilliant with rainbow arches of balloons, the air filled with the sounds of people applauding, cheering, hooting, motorcycle engines being revved, and I reminded her of the first time I met her. She looked up at the balloons and said, “Did you ever imagine we would see this day?” And I just started sobbing from my chest, and she gave me one of the kindest hugs I’ve ever received in my life.)

And I remember we started to march down 37th Avenue and I felt so proud of my neighborhood. I wondered if I should put my camera aside and join the march instead, wondered what was more important, but I remember sensing that this was my place, my role, though I think it took me a number of years to really understand what that meant.


Jeanne Manford, founder of PFLAG

Then I remember feeling more confident once the Parade was over and the Festival had started. I got up on the stage behind Danny and Maritza, photographing them as they gave their speeches, Maritza giving a big kiss to her girlfriend at the time on the stage before thousands of people.

As I look over the negatives of that first parade now, part of me wishes I had been more mature in my work, more knowledgeable about what was going on. I only took two rolls of black-and-white film and three of color to the parade because those were my first years as a photographer. By the third year of the parade I was regularly shooting about ten rolls of color and ten of black-and-white with two cameras and questioning my decision to photograph a subject less and less, going with feelings. But beyond any regrets, I know I was lucky that I was there, that I was able to be a part of it. There are lots of people and things I wish I had photographed: Alan Sack giving a speech to remember Julio, qp93wp15_lowresmembers of Queer Nation (some of whom are now friends), members of QGLU (who became friends over the next few years), the Rivera family. It amazed me a few years ago when I was looking at the negatives and realized that I had actually photographed Matt Foreman of AVP looking right into my camera with those blue eyes and a poster of Julio behind him.

In the past I would only show three or so of the black-and-white photos from that day because it wasn’t my best work, but being older and less self-centered in some ways, I have realized that the important thing is not my need to show what a good photographer I can be, but the need to share these images, to use them to reconnect and to remember.


Maritza Martinez (left), Daniel Dromm (center) and Brendan Fay




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