Andrew Yang offended an LGBTQ political group with ‘Michael Scott levels of cringe and insensitivity,’ report says

Andrew Yang
In this March 11, 2021 file photo, Democratic mayoral candidate Andrew Yang holds a news conference in the Dumbo neighborhood of New York.

  • NYC mayoral hopeful Andrew Yang’s pitch to an LGBTQ political club went disastrously wrong, per a New York Times report.
  • Yang grated the members with glib references to gay bars and gay people being “a secret weapon.”
  • One member of the club described his pitch as having “Michael Scott levels of cringe.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

New York City mayoral frontrunner Andrew Yang bewildered members of a prominent LGBTQ+ political club in the city with “Michael Scott levels of cringe” while trying to win their endorsement, The New York Times reported Thursday.

Several members of the Stonewall Democrats of New York City relayed to The Times and posted on Twitter that Yang offended the group by referring to the gay community as “so beautiful and human” and “a secret weapon,” and his constant references to gay bars and clubs.

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“I genuinely do love you and your community,” Yang said, according to a recording of a part of the event obtained by The Times. “You’re so human and beautiful. You make New York City special. I have no idea how we ever lose to the Republicans given that you all are frankly in, like, leadership roles all over the Democratic Party.”

“He kept calling us ‘Your community’, like we were aliens,” one member, filmmaker Harris Doran, told The Times.

“Oh man Andrew Yang at the Stonewall endorsement meeting was an inexperienced, ill informed joke who keep telling us his campaign manager was gay over and over and naming one gay bar over and over,” Doran also posted on Twitter on Wednesday night. “If you are thinking of voting for him, I beg of you, god help us, don’t.”

“When I see a candidate come in just with Michael Scott levels of cringe and insensitivity, it either tells me Andrew Yang is in over his head or is not listening to his staff,” Stonewall Club member Alejandra Caraballo told The Times. “Those are both radioactive flashing signs that say he is not prepared to be mayor of New York.”

The Democratic primary for mayor, which will be the first ranked-choice mayoral election in New York City’s history, is set to take place on June 22.

Yang was the first choice for 22% of likely Democratic primary voters in a recent Spectrum NY1/Ipsos poll, followed by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams at 13%, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer at 11%, and former CitiGroup execute Ray McGuire at 6%.

The Stonewall Club chose to endorse Stringer for its first choice, nonprofit executive Dianne Morales for its second, and McGuire for its third.

Rose Christ, the club’s president, told The Times that Yang’s tone was “outdated,” and that his focus on gay bars and parades “are not the substantive issues that our membership cares about and it came off poorly.”

Sasha Neha Ahuja, one of Yang’s campaign managers who herself identifies at LGBTQ, told The Times: “I hope Andrew continues to have space for folks to listen with an open heart about the experiences of all communities that have been deeply impacted by years of oppression. I apologize if folks felt some type of way about it.”

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New York just became the biggest city to make LGBT-owned businesses eligible for billions in government contracts for minority entrepreneurs

FILE PHOTO: A rainbow flag waves in the wind at the Stonewall National Monument outside the Stonewall Inn, site of the1969 Stonewall uprising, considered the birth of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) movement in Greenwich Village in New York City, New York, U.S., June 4, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo
A rainbow flag waves in the wind at the Stonewall National Monument outside the Stonewall Inn in New York.

  • New York City will officially recognize LGBT-owned businesses as part of its certification program.
  • That means that LGBT-owned business will have access to resources like mentorship and consulting, as well as the opportunity to be suppliers for government contracts.
  • Currently, the city has a 10-year goal to award $25 billion in contracts to women and minority-owned businesses, a group that now includes LGBT-owned businesses.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

LGBT-owned businesses will now be officially recognized by New York City as minority-owned businesses, qualifying them for resources like mentorship and consulting – and, significantly, as suppliers for government contracts.

In conjunction with the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC), New York City’s Department of Small Business Services will fast-track LGBT businesses into its certification programs

Those certification programs were already open to minority and women-owned businesses, as well as historically economically and socially disadvantaged individuals. 

The city has a 10 year goal to award $25 billion in contracts to those certified businesses by 2025. An August press release said that the city is on track to award 30% of all contracts to minority and women-owned businesses in 2021. The city awarded $964 million in contracts during the first three quarters of 2020.

Now, those opportunities will be open to majority LBGT-owned businesses certified with NGLCC

Justin Nelson, the president and cofounder of NGLCC, said New York has been a priority for the group for nearly 10 years. The group saw victories on the other side of the Hudson in Hoboken and Jersey City, but they just couldn’t get across the finish line in NYC – until today.

“This is, without a doubt, a major win for LGBT businesses, a major win for NGLCC,” he said. He added that it’s “one of the most diverse cities in the world saying, ‘You know what, yes, we want to be inclusive, not just in our policies, but in our practices.'”  

In 2019, New York City spent $96 billion; while not all of that will go to small businesses, Nelson said “there are literally billions of dollars of opportunity that have been opened up now to LGBT businesses that weren’t there yesterday.”

“Equity of access and inclusion are at the core of the work we do at SBS,” Jonnel Doris, commissioner of the NYC Department of Small Business Services, said in a statement. “A diverse vendor pool makes a stronger New York City, and we are excited to maximize the inclusion of LGBTQ certified firms into the City’s certification process. We look forward to our continued partnership with the NGLCC.”

A recent survey by the NGLCC found that nearly 59% of LGBT businesses fear shutting down due to COVID if they don’t receive any additional funds, according to Nelson. 

Marti Cummings, a gig worker and drag artist who is running for New York City Council, told Insider that “any opportunity to help women owned businesses, BIPOC owned businesses. and LGBTQIA+ businesses is a positive.”

“To be able to welcome LGBTQIA+ businesses into this fold is really important, because our marginalized communities need a seat at the table and need their voices to be heard,” they said about the new certification program.

As a drag artist, Cummings primarily works and performs at small businesses. They said that three of the venues they used to work at have closed during the pandemic, and ensuring the futures of remaining LGBT-owned businesses is crucial. 

“We really need to put in the work to save these spaces and these institutions that are so vital to the safety of queer people,” they said. Cummings said that measures like canceling rent, mortgages, and taxing the wealthy could also provide needed relief to businesses in the short-term.

In the meantime, LGBT-owned businesses who want to take advantage of the new program need to be certified with the NGLCC (or get certification), and register with the small business services (SBS) database.

“I love local business. I just think it is the heartbeat of our city,” Cummings said. “And we have such a long road of recovery ahead from this pandemic, but if we all work together as a community block by block, we will get through this. We have to keep holding on. We have to keep fighting for our city, state, and federal government to do the work, to help the people who are suffering, because they work for us.”

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