Tim Gunn Reveals Latest Anti-Gay Rant by Carriage Driver, Asks Mayor When Horses Will Be Retired
As NYC Pride week starts, PETA releases new video showing more hate speech spewed by carriage drivers.
Tim Gunn, who is currently filming a new season of "Project Runway," is the latest notable New Yorker to support retiring the city’s horse carriages-not just over concern for the animals, but to rid the streets of the routine hate speech spewed by drivers. Gunn, a gay rights advocate and longtime PETA supporter, wrote Mayor Bill de Blasio to highlight a video shot last month of a carriage driver using anti-gay slurs against a concerned passerby.
Gunn’s letter and the release of the new video comes at the start of NYC Pride, a week of events culminating in the Sunday, June 29 Pride March on 5th Avenue.
"Mayor de Blasio, it would be unacceptable for any worker representing the city to taunt the public with hate speech-but these individuals are on the frontlines of the city’s hospitality industry! Are these the type of people we want greeting families and tourists from around the world?," Gunn writes in the letter sent on Sunday. "I’m proud to live in Manhattan, it can be a haven of tolerance, but the carriage drivers are warping it into a hotbed of hate. Bullies such as the drivers in these videos disregard not only the suffering of animals, but also the basic rights of New Yorkers."
Gunn’s letter, which was copied to the City Council’s gay caucus, also links to a video shot during NYC Pride in 2012; in it, another carriage driver taunts an elderly, mixed race lesbian with the n-word and quipping ’are you here for that dyke convention?" As a result of that incident, then-City Council Speaker Christine Quinn strongly rebuked the carriage industry and the union representing the carriage drivers agreed to require drivers to undergo anti-discrimination training. A third incident caught on tape shows a carriage driver/stable owner hurling vulgar racist and sexist taunts at a young Latina.
See the full letter sent by Gunn to Mayor de Blasio below:
The Honorable Bill de Blasio
Mayor of New York City
Dear Mayor de Blasio:
I’m among the 30,000 New York City PETA members who applaud your plan to retire the carriage horses. However, as we await a City Council bill, I urge you to address the relentless, hateful bigotry that’s thriving in the city’s tiny horse-drawn carriage trade. Carriage drivers have been filmed spewing all kinds of racist, sexist, and homophobic taunts at caring tourists and local citizens who dare to express concern for the 200 horses who are forced to lug carriages on our city’s dangerous streets.
As NYC Pride approaches, I ask you to watch this video, taken just last month, showing the latest anti-gay tirade from a carriage driver. It happened on May 23, when driver Omer Biyikoglu called a concerned passerby a "faggot," among other antagonistic slurs, when questioned about whether it was legal to tie his horse to a light post in the midst of midtown traffic. Instead of answering the question, the smirking driver declared, "I don’t f-ck guys," and walked away.
This isn’t the first time such a disgraceful exchange has taken place on our streets. During 2012 Pride, another carriage driver called a concerned, elderly, mixed-race lesbian couple "nigger" and "dyke." (You can view the video footage here.) And it’s not just the drivers: Stable owner Frank Rodden was caught on tape calling a Latina woman a "whore" in Spanish and joking to his cronies-in front of the public-that she "probably has six or seven kids." The woman had simply asked if his horse was OK.
Mayor de Blasio, it would be unacceptable for any worker representing the city to taunt the public with hate speech-but these individuals are on the frontlines of the city’s hospitality industry! Are these the type of people we want greeting families and tourists from around the world? I’m proud to live in Manhattan, it can be a haven of tolerance, but the carriage drivers are warping it into a hotbed of hate. Bullies such as the drivers in these videos disregard not only the suffering of animals but also the basic rights of New Yorkers.
You have spoken so lucidly on this issue since before your election, but since you took office, there have been accidents causing continued animal suffering and threatening public safety. One driver falsified department of health records in order to force an old asthmatic horse to work, and another was arrested for making a horse pound the pavement despite a painful hoof infection. As the steamy summer months set in, when can we expect you to get these abused horses off the streets?
I eagerly await your reply.