Queens Car Service Pulls Out of PR Parade Upon Learning They’d Be Transporting LGBT Activists

Lead Photo: Pedro Julio Serrano
Pedro Julio Serrano
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When activist Pedro Julio Serrano first attended the National Puerto Rican Day Parade a decade ago, he proudly carried his rainbow-colored Puerto Rican flag – a flawless representation of himself. Unfortunately, the unapologetic gay symbol made him the target of homophobia. “They called me pato. They yelled maricón. They told me ‘get out of here.’ And they even threw plastic bottles,” he told El Diario New York. This time around, things were supposed to be different.

Serrano and other members of the LGBTQ community were being honored at this year’s parade, and organizers named him the Orgullo Puertoriqueño. But homophobia reared its ugly head once again when a Queens car shop refused to transport him and other honorees down Fifth Avenue. When they spotted his gay pride flag, The Custom Shop, which had donated five cars to the parade, dropped out. Serrano first expressed his disgust and disappointment in a Facebook post, where he called out The Custom Shop by name. “A day after more than 50 LGBTQ people were murdered and more than 40 wounded in a gay nightclub in Orlando, homophobia tried to obscure the National Puerto Rican Day Parade…” he said, adding that they opted to march on foot.

Today, he continued to denounce The Custom Shop’s homophobia with an impassioned speech he posted onto Facebook. He noted that it’s unbelievable that less than 24 hours after a shooter targets and kills 50 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando because of who they are, that someone would rub salt in the wounds of a community that’s hurting.

“They are discriminating against us in our own parade when this parade is being dedicated to us, to the LGBT community,” he said. “And these people – who I have the pictures and I hope that you got the footage of them – they decided to get out of the parade because of their homophobia when we had 40 people killed yesterday because they’re gay…. We are not going to be silenced. We are not going to be shunned. We are not going to be ostracized. We are a part of this community. We are human beings. We are Puerto ricans. And we’re not going to let this go.”

Check out the full video below: