Power of Storytelling | Ritchie Torres is exactly who New York needs right now

July 31, 2019

It’s often said that New York is the tale of two cities. There’s the gilded city, and then there’s the other city. 
-Ritchie Torres

Ritchie Torres is the youngest elected official in New York. He became a member of the New York City Council in 2013, when he was just 25 years old. Two weeks ago, Torres announced his bid for Congress.

Born and bred in the Bronx, Torres is a black Puerto Rican, and he is the first openly gay person to be elected to legislative office in the Bronx. He had no ties to the establishment. He’s a man of the people. His life story is a testament to that.

As a child, he lived in “the other city.” One of three children, he was raised in public housing by a single mother who made minimum wage. The slum conditions of their home caused Torres to suffer from asthma throughout his childhood. He couldn’t help but notice that New York was spending lots and lots of money ($100 million!) to build a golf course for Donald Trump just across the street. He wondered why the money wasn’t being put to better use. He wondered why it wasn’t being used to help his mother, and other people like her.

So who is he up against? Pentecostal Minister Rubén Díaz Sr., 76, who is vehemently anti-gay and has made homophobic comments throughout his political career. A little bit more about him…

  • In 1994, while serving on the Civilian Complaint Review Board, Díaz was critical of New York City hosting the Gay Games. Díaz wrote homophobic comments that were unanimously rebuked by the rest of the Board.
  • He was elected to New York City Council in 2001 and served as a member of the Senate from 2003 – 2017.
  • In 2011, Díaz brought same-sex marriage opponents together for an anti-gay rally in the Bronx. His openly gay granddaughter, Erica Díaz, led a counterprotest across the street.
  • On June 24, 2011, Díaz once again voted against same-sex marriage legislation. The measure successfully passed in the Senate by a vote of 33-29 anyway, making New York the sixth state to legalize same-sex marriage.

Um, wow. I have great faith that Ritchie will succeed in yet another round of triumphant victory, and I know I’m not alone. This young man is a fighter, and he’s fighting at a time when this country needs it most. Again, Ritchie is a man of the people. He has the power and ability to represent the marginalized. He can stand up for those without a voice; those who’ve been silenced by the establishment. His story resonated with me from the beginning. I gave you a condensed version up there. Check out a fleshed-out version below. This video really brings his story to life!


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