LGBTQ activists jump into the Atlantic in Far Rockaway to protest nuclear weapons

NYCAN New Years’ Plunge
Photo by Donna Aceto


LGBTQ activists Brendan Fay and Robert Croonquist huddled with other New York-based members of International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons and ran into the Atlantic Ocean at Far Rockaway on New Year’s Day as part of a public demonstration against nuclear weapons.

The activists, who plunged into the freezing waters at Rockaway Beach and 92nd Street, are pushing the City Council to move forward with a resolution asking the city comptroller to divest pension funds of public employees from sources of nuclear weapons and a bill creating an advisory committee that would evaluate nuclear disarmament and other issues geared toward making New York City a nuclear weapons-free zone. Those bills were proposed by out gay Councilmember Daniel Dromm of Queens, who has welcomed the support of dozens of co-sponsors in both cases.

The activists are asking out gay City Council Speaker Corey Johnson to advance the measures before the Treaty of the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons becomes international law on Jan. 22.

Brendan Fay (left) and Robert Croonquist (right) wore masks remembering those lost during the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II. (Photo by Donna Aceto)

Fay wore a rainbow scarf as he stormed into the ocean and many activists held signs expressing messages such as “Nuclear weapons target New York City” and “Nuclear weapons are a crime against humanity.”

“Today we are polar bears for peace,” Fay said in a written statement. “We join this exuberant New Year’s ritual to celebrate life, health and hope. As disarmament activists, for the sake of children, their future, and love of Earth, we are determined to make our world free of nuclear weapons. Besides, this is the inspiring legacy of generations of New Yorkers like Dorothy Day, Bayard Rustin and Mayor David Dinkins.”

Croonquist, a former public school teacher who is a member of Rise and Resist and the Reclaim Pride Coalition, said he was driven to jump into the ocean when he thought about the high school students he taught at Jamaica High School in Queens.

“This legislation would divert my pension’s investments from weapons of mass destruction and redirect them to things that bring true security — investments in food, housing, climate, infrastructure and healthcare. And boy, that water was even colder than the Boundary Waters of the Northern Minnesota of my youth. What we do for love!”

Kathleen Sullivan emphasized the point that New York City remains tied to nuclear weapons. (Photo by Donna Aceto)
The freezing water was worth it for activists who were aiming to make a point about nukes. (Photo by Donna Aceto)
Activists successfully returned to land after stepping into the ocean on New Year’s Day. (Photo by Donna Aceto)

This story originally appeared on QNS’ sister site gaycitynews.com