Elmhurst street named for AIDS activist

THE COURIER/ Photo by Benjamin Fang


The name of a Latino lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) activist will live on in the community where the advocate educated people about HIV/AIDS.

On Saturday, July 27, elected officials and community members unveiled the Guillermo Vasquez Corner on 77th Street and Broadway in Elmhurst.

“He was a role model to all of us,” said Councilmember Daniel Dromm during a co-naming ceremony at the Elmhurst Hospital Auditorium, where attendees shared memories of Vasquez’s leadership and commitment to improve his community.

Vasquez founded a number of Latino advocacy organizations including the Latino American Cultural Center of Queens, the Queens Hispanic Coalition and the Colombian American National Coalition.

He was also at the forefront of the LGBT movement and took a lead role in educating the public about HIV/AIDS. Vasquez was active in the U.S. Colombian SIDA/AIDS Foundation, the Latino Commission on AIDS, Queens Gays and Lesbians United and other organizations.

“He fought for the rights of many, even when it wasn’t so easy,” said Congressmember Grace Meng.
Vasquez died in 1996 due to complications from AIDS.

State Senators Jose Peralta and Toby Ann Stavisky linked Vasquez’s activism in the LGBT community to the passage of marriage equality by the New York State legislature in June 2011.

“It was pioneers like Guillermo who planted the seeds,” said Peralta. “It was that fight that led to that special day.”

Dromm picked 77th Street and Broadway because Vasquez often frequented a bar called The Love Boat near that intersection. It was one of the sites where he spread knowledge about HIV/AIDS.

“This was a long time coming and very well deserved,” said Dromm.