Queens is home to the Unisphere, the U.S. Open and the Mets. And now the borough is also home to what appears to be the first gay-friendly Lions Club in the state.
The Queens Pride Lions Club was formed earlier this month in Jackson Heights and already counts City Councilman Daniel Dromm among its members. Lions clubs are volunteer service organizations, similar to Kiwanis and Rotary clubs.
"It's really important for gay people to get involved and do things for the broader community as well as for ourselves," said Dromm (D-Jackson Heights). "It's a great opportunity for the neighborhood."
The new citywide club, one of about 45,000 Lions clubs worldwide, will work on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues throughout the five boroughs - as well as for non-LGBT causes locally, organizers said.
Organizers also said they hope to combat negative stereotypes about gays and lesbians by doing good work in their communities.
"If we are a big enough club we can really impact and represent the LGBT community in Queens," said Yessika Giraldo, who was elected president of the new organization. "The more visible we are, the more we can fight against violence."
The group's first project will be a phone bank to support the legalization of same-sex marriage in New York State, Giraldo said.
Joseph DeGaetano, president of the Corona Lions Club, said he also spearheaded the push for the new group to create a safe and accepting environment for openly gay members.
"A club that had mostly gay and lesbian members could cater to the needs of their own communities," he said. "Who would better know what the needs would be?"
Lions Club International spokesman Dane La Joye said the organization is supportive of all types of Lions clubs - and in fact specialty clubs, based on professions, are very popular.
"We cross all cultures and boundaries," La Joye said. "If there's a need, there's a Lions club to meet that need."
Glennda Testone, executive director of Manhattan's influential Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center, said she was also pleased.
"We're thrilled to hear about the Queens Pride Lions Club," she said.