On Nov. 18, New Paltz Town Councilman Dan Torres announced on his Facebook page that he was the newest member of the Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center’s board of directors.
The center, which is located in Kingston, New York, provides services, professional resources and programs that bring together the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community across lines of age, race, gender and economics, according to its website.
The center was founded in June of 2005 and officially opened on Feb. 3, 2007, according to its website.
The same-sex weddings that occurred in New Paltz in February of 2004 conducted by Mayor Jason West resulted in a lot of media attention, which helped lead to the community center’s creation. Also, the New Paltz Pride March and Festival, which later became the Hudson Valley Pride March and Festival, brought together community members interested in creating the center.
Torres said a member of the board of directors approached him and asked if he was interested in joining. He said he heard from the board about the center and had to factor in his other positions as a town councilman and community liaison to the New York State Assembly.
“I wasn’t going to commit to another thing unless it was something I was passionate about and believed in,” Torres said.
President of the Hudson Valley LGTBQ Community Center Jan Whitman said Torres is a great person to join the center’s board of directors because of his love for New Paltz and because of the attention New Paltz has received locally and nationally for its adovcation of LBGTQ rights.
Joanne Myers, the vice president of the Hudson Valley LGTBQ Community Center and also Torres’ former professor during his time at Marist College, said Torres was a good fit for the board of directors because he is an ally, something the center is always looking for and because he is young and they are always looking to teach young adults how to be good board members.
Torres said his responsibilities will be like those of any organization’s board: to oversee the organizations and happenings of that organization.
While marriage equality is something that no longer needs to be fought for in New York and more than half the states in the United States, Torres said there are still other issues that can be advocated. One topic he has on his mind is the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, which is a non-discrimination bill that has passed the New York State Assembly, but hasn’t yet made it to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s desk.
“[Passing this bill] would be a real progressive step forward in our state,” Torres said.
Myers said as a New Paltz resident, Torres will be working on the committee for the Pride Parade, which takes place in New Paltz every year.
In June, Torres filed paperwork with the Village of New Paltz to place a historical marker at the spot where West held the same-sex marriages.
“The plaque was unveiled at the end of this year’s Pride Parade and it is the only official government sanctioned historical marker representing a moment in gay history in the United States,” Torres said.
Torres said a lot of things that are done at the center are relevant to youth services and as the liaison at the New Paltz Youth Center, he will be looking for programs that New Paltz residents can be included in.
Going forward, Myers said Torres’ community-minded attitude and political involvement will allow him to accomplish a lot both in his life and for the center.