On Wednesday, the Stonewall Democratic Club of New York City interviewed several mayoral candidates before voting on an endorsement. One of those in the hot seat was Andrew Yang, whose head-in-the-clouds demeanor and occasionally bizarre comments are considered a plus for many of his most ardent supporters. But the front-runner’s strange way with words offended some members of the New York’s first citywide LGBT Democratic organization.
According to video of the exchange reviewed by the New York Times, Yang made several tone-deaf comments while attempting to explain the impact of gay culture in the city. “You’re so human and beautiful,” he said. “You make New York City special. I have no idea how we ever lose to the Republicans given that you all are frankly in, like, leadership roles all over the Democratic Party.” He added that Democrats “have, like, this incredible secret weapon. It’s not even secret. It’s like, we should win everything because we have you all.”
He also made frequent references to “your community” and cited gay members of his staff as proof of his support for the group’s interests. “Well, first, let me say that if I go to Cubbyhole, I think I’m going to be accompanied by at least one of my two campaign managers who are both gay,” he said, according to Politico. “So there’s like a lot of, you know, familiarity with, with the community, at the head of my campaign leading it.”
“He came across like he was a tourist in New York and said he wanted to visit a gay bar,” Rose Christ, the president of SDNYC, told Politico.
“Gay, gay, gay. Wow,” one member wrote in the chat for those watching the video, according to the Times. “More to us than just that.” Another member, filmmaker Harris Doran, told the Times that frequent “your community” messages were off-putting, “like we were aliens.”
“When I see a candidate come in just with Michael Scott levels of cringe and insensitivity, it either tells me Andrew Yang is in over his head or is not listening to his staff,” another member, Alejandra Caraballo, told the Times. “Those are both radioactive flashing signs that say he is not prepared to be mayor of New York.”
Yang’s overwhelming lack of policy expertise was also apparent in the interview. When members asked him about how he would tackle issues facing LGBT New Yorkers, he reportedly responded by mentioning gay bars, but not some major issues including inequitable access to health care and housing and the murder of trans women.
Ultimately, Yang did not win the endorsement of the Stonewall Democrats, who announced on Thursday morning their co-sign of city comptroller Scott Stringer, who has already won the support of the Lambda Independent Democrats of Brooklyn. But as Yang continues to lose out on endorsements, he keeps winning in the polls, with just nine weeks until the Democratic primary.