1961 - 1990
Julio Rivera, a 29-year-old Jackson Heights bartender, was ambushed and brutally attacked in a schoolyard by members of a local gang because he was gay. When police labeled the crime as drug-related, the LGBTQ community held vigils and put public pressure on law enforcement to investigate homophobic hate crimes.
Rivera’s murder became the first gay hate crime tried in New York State. It sparked activism and the creation of the Pride Parade in Queens and marked a new chapter in demanding justice for LGBTQ victims of violence.
1975 - 1997
Ali Forney was found shot on a Harlem street and died at just 22 years old. His murder has never been solved, but it drew attention to the unsafe conditions that young, homeless LGBTQ individuals face on a daily basis.
Forney, forced onto the streets as a young teen, struggled with sex work and substance abuse. He dedicated his time to outreach programs and spoke to social workers about the unique problems faced by transgender youth like himself.
Forney’s spirit of giving lives on through the Ali Forney Center, the largest agency dedicated to LGBTQ homeless youth in the nation, which provides housing and supportive services to prepare young people for independent living.
1945 - 1990
James “Jimmy” Zappalorti’s highly publicized, bias-motivated murder on Staten Island was the borough’s first to be designated as a gay hate crime. A Vietnam veteran remembered as a quiet, religious man, Zappalorti was killed at his beachfront shack, where two men who had previously been arrested for an anti-gay attack preyed upon him and stabbed him before robbing his family’s home.