Reimagining Justice Film Festival (5 of 5): Rights and Reactions

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How can architects be better advocates for a better world? The Reimagining Justice Film Festival will create the opportunity to encounter revolutionary ideas through investigating the history and lived experiences of people as we watch documentaries relating to Justice Reform, Environmental Justice, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. For the 2024 festival, film screenings occur every Thursday in May.  The fifth event on May 30 will feature the documentary Rights and Reactions: Lesbian & Gay Rights on Trial by Phil Zwickler and Jane Lippman, followed by a discussion with Stephen Petrus and Andy Humm.

About the Film

"In 1971, New York City was the first jurisdiction in the world to propose protecting people from discrimination on the basis of "sexual orientation." But while many American cities passed such human rights laws in the 1970s and early 1980s, New York's City Council resisted as the gay and lesbian community and its supporters squared off year after year with opponents, mostly from the City's conservative Catholic, Jewish, and Protestant fundamentalist communities.

In 1986, five years into the AIDS epidemic, the leadership of the Council changed and the bill, Intro 2, looked as if it would finally pass. Filmmakers Phil Zwickler and Jane Lippman capture the heat of that debate inside City Hall and in the streets of New York featuring gay and lesbian activists, religious leaders on both sides, legal experts, union leaders, people with AIDS, talk radio hosts, and politicians from Ed Koch and David Dinkins to feisty Council Members Miriam Friedlander and Noach Dear.

The bill did pass the City Council by a vote of 21-14 on March 21, 1986 and was signed into law on April 2. It prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation (defined as "heterosexuality, homosexuality, or bisexuality) in jobs, housing and public accommodations. In 2002, the City's human rights law was also amended to cover "gender identity and expression," protecting people of transgender experience." —Andy Humm via 

View the Series Flyer

Introductory Remarks:
Daniel Dromm,
 Educator, Activist and Former New York City Council member, NYC Council

Stephen Petrus, Director of Public History Programs, LaGuardia and Wagner Archives LaGuardia Community College
Andy Humm, Journalist, Activist, Co-host, Gay USA.

About the Speakers:
Daniel Dromm is an educator, activist and former New York City Council member.  Dromm taught at PS 199Q for 25 years before coming out publicly as a gay teacher in 1992 to support the LGBTQ inclusive Children of the Rainbow curriculum. When he was 17 years old in 1973, he went to the Firehouse in Soho which was the headquarters for the Gay Activist Alliance. His involvement there fueled a lifetime of activism. Dromm became the first openly gay elected official from Queens when he was elected as Democratic District Leader in 2002. He was elected to the NYC Council in 2009. During his tenure he focused on four major issues: immigration, education, criminal justice reform and LGBTQ+ rights. His proudest legislative achievements include the creation of IDNYC (NYC’s identification card), removing ICE from Riker’s Island and fighting to end solitary confinement. He established the LBGTQ liaison position in the Department of Education. As finance chair, the Council’s second most powerful position, he had oversight of the city’s $100 billion budget. Now retired, Dromm serves on the board of several Irish organizations, LGBT groups and on the Executive Board of the UFT Retired Teachers Chapter.

Stephen Petrus is Director of Public History Programs at LaGuardia and Wagner Archives at LaGuardia Community College.  Since 2017, he has co-curated six LGBTQ exhibits at LaGuardia, including A Seat at the Table, on LGBTQ elected officials in the New York City Council and the State Legislature, and First Grade Culture Wars, on the Children of the Rainbow Curriculum controversy of 1992 in New York City.  Prior to his work at LaGuardia, he held Mellon Fellowships at the New-York Historical Society and at the Museum of the City of New York, where, in 2015, he curated the exhibition Folk City: New York and the Folk Music Revival and co-authored the accompanying book, published by Oxford University Press.  He is currently working on a digital exhibit on the 1986 New York City Gay Rights Bill.

Andy Humm has been a gay activist since 1974. He was from 1977-91 a spokesperson for NYC's 50-group Coalition for Lesbian and Gay Rights that revived the fight for the City's gay rights bill that passed in '86. He was Director of Education for the Hetrick-Martin Institute for LGBT youth from 1986-95, winning explicit AIDS education with condom availability in the schools in '91 and personally training thousands of young people and youth-serving professionals on LGBT and AIDS issues. Continuously since 1985, he has co-hosted the weekly national GAY USA  television news show (since 1996 with Ann Northrop). He writes for the Gay City News and other outlets. Professionally he has also worked in education and political consulting. More at

More in the Reimagining Justice Film Festival:
Reimagining Justice Film Festival (1 of 5): Mothers of Bedford
Reimagining Justice Film Festival (2 of 5): 16 Bars
Reimagining Justice Film Festival (3 of 5): Navigating a Volatile Tide
Reimagining Justice Film Festival (4 of 5): TED Talk by JR, Unguarded, and More

Organized by:
AIANY Architecture for Justice Committee, LaGuardia and Wagner Archives, LaGuardia Community College

Supported by:
AIANY Women in Architecture Committee; AIANY Diversity and Inclusion Committee; AIANY Social Science and Architecture Committee; AIANY Committee on the Environment; Phil Zwickler Charitable & Memorial Foundation Trust