Volume 81, Number 4 | June 23 - 29, 2011
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

PRIDE2011

Shadavia Dnny.

The view from the Christopher St. Pier: Why they love it, and can’t live without it

Interviews and photos by Muneeza Iqbal

Shadavia Dnny, 17 (student, lives in Crown Heights)

When and why did you start coming to the Christopher St. Pier?

Last year I came here for the first time for the Pride parade and loved the whole atmosphere here with all the gay and bisexual people. Nobody is judging, everybody is comfortable in their own skin. It’s different to kiss my girlfriend here than when I kiss her in the train and people are all over our faces. When I kiss her here people say “Aww that’s so cute. Young love,” There’s no judging, its just comfortable and easy.

What do you think about the pier’s 1 a.m. curfew?

I think they should keep it open for 24 hours. Just keep a guard or something out here. Have them do different shifts or something to make sure there’s no violence or something going on. Other than that what’s the worst that can happen? It’s safe and fun here. I don’t see anybody here going crazy or acting vicious like an animal. So I feel that it should be open 24 hours. When its summertime it’s great, maybe not when it’s cold and stuff because no one would come then.

Do you think L.G.B.T youths could use a 24-hour safe space in Greenwich Village?

That would be really good!

What do you think about the recent, so-called “Dunkin Donuts riot”?

It was unnecessary. I don’t know why they did that or what was their reason for that. You know people act out and they do stupid stuff. Hopefully, whatever happened was resolved and Dunkin Donuts is all right now. But it wasn’t necessary. It was just stupid. I feel like it was a dumb move.

What is the craziest thing you have seen on the pier?

People just walking around in drawers like they don’t care. I’ve seen people walking around in fur coats in 90-degree weather.


Anderson Payano, 16 (student, lives in Washington Heights)

When and why did you start coming to the Christopher St. Pier?

We started coming last year because all of our friends are here and we heard it was fun.

What makes the pier special?

Well, where we live it’s mad violent and ghetto. You can’t really hang around. Here you can walk around and sit and be relaxed and not have to worry about stuff.

Do you feel that there is tension between the users of the Christopher St. Pier and local residents?

To be honest, no. I feel like everybody here doesn’t mind what everybody does.

What do you think about the 1 a.m. curfew? Do you think it should be moved up to 10 p.m., or should there be no curfew at all?

I think it should be open 24 hours because people love coming here. I even come here in the night sometimes because it’s fun, but it is what it is. Maybe I see why they put it at 1 because people get out of control or something.

Should there be a 24-hour safe haven in the Village for L.G.B.T youths?

There should be a safe center because maybe kids from around here don’t need a safe center, but I’m pretty sure like Uptown and places like that, people need somewhere to go if something bad happened.

What do you think about the Dunkin Donuts incident last month? Is this typical behavior from what you see out here, or was it an abnormality?

I think that maybe they weren’t from around here and decided to just come and try and go crazy. I think behavior like that is abnormal to happen around here because this is a decent community. Things like that doesn’t happen around here. Maybe those kids came from Brooklyn or something because that kind of stuff doesn’t happen here.

What is the craziest thing you have seen on the pier?

People here dress insane! We saw some guy in spandex once. He was wearing a thong!


Jerome Brown, 28 (graphic designer, lives in Harlem)

Patrick Houston, 29 (real estate broker and choreog-rapher, lives in Harlem)

When and why did you start coming to the Christopher St. Pier?

JB: My first time on the pier, I didn’t know it was this [an L.G.B.T. hangout]. I just came here for the water.

What makes the pier special?

JB: It depends on the given day. I love coming here on a Saturday and seeing everybody laid out, almost like it’s a beach. It’s mind-blowing and I like that. But other than that, I don’t communicate with people I really don’t know. But every now and then I find a gem in the rocks and I talk to them.

Do you feel that there is tension between the users of the Christopher St. Pier and local residents?

JB: I do feel that way. The people who live around the area tend to feel like they have a monopoly on it, like it’s theirs because it’s within their neighborhood. People who come from other boroughs feel like they have a share in it, too, because it’s city property. I feel like the clash might be due to the noise some of the younger kids bring to the area.

Do you see tension between the local police and the pier’s users?

JB: For the most part, when the police comes around people act correct. But sometimes you get one or two police officers who sometimes want to exert their power and they may overreach a little bit. But that’s almost in any situation no matter where you at. But it’s more prominent here because there are more children here and they don’t know the law as well as someone who is older. So they can’t really stand up for themselves the right way, so they may come off as rude or abrasive with the police officers, therefore they end up getting defensive.

What do you think about the pier’s 1 a.m. curfew? Do you think it should be moved up to 10 p.m., or should there be no curfew at all?

PH: I don’t think a public space this beautiful should have a curfew.

JB: It’s open to the public — that means it’s open access. There’s nothing wrong with having a few cops patrolling, that’s what we pay you for. That’s almost like shutting down Times Square! That’s not saying that kids of a certain age shouldn’t have a curfew. But as an adult, I pay taxes, I should be allowed to walk down this public place any time I want to as long as I’m not causing any kind of commotion.

Should there be a 24-hour safe haven in the Village for L.G.B.T youths?

JB: Yes, most definitely. The younger kids need somewhere where they can express themselves. They need a place to be free. I would think that New York would be the one place that felt that an individual, no matter what he or she did, would be celebrated, but to me it’s more condemned. I find that to be so backwards. Down South I would expect that because they want everybody to be the same. But it’s worse up here than it is down there. So for the kids to have somewhere they can turn to 24 hours a day where they are monitored by adults, and get the supervision that they need and the guidance that they need to develop them into good citizens so that they can give back to the community, that would be a great thing.

What do you think about the “Dunkin Donuts riot” on Christopher St. last month? Is this typical behavior from what you see out here, or was it an abnormality?

JB: I saw the YouTube video but didn’t know that it happened here!

PH: First of all, I think it’s absurd of them to even think anything like that. That can happen in any neighborhood. Just because they [the residents] are on Christopher St and spent a million dollars on their property doesn’t mean that this isn’t going to happen in their neighborhood. Most of the crimes happen in rich neighborhoods. I think that they are trying to justify the answer by discriminating against a group of people, which is very unfair. And the fact alone that these are kids that are demonstrating this kind of activity lets us know as adults that we are doing something wrong. We are supposed to be teaching them right from wrong. They are learning all wrong and that’s what they are doing.

JB: And they are picking up this stuff from adults. They have to see it from somewhere to know what to do. We as adults, we’re not stepping up to the play and saying, “Don’t do that.” Instead of guiding them, we’re condemning them and that’s making them act out even more. Why can’t the residents get together and say, “Oh, there is an empty building across from the pier. Why not purchase that and give the kids somewhere to go so that they wont be on the streets causing all the commotion at 2 in the morning?” Instead of pointing out the problem, why can’t the community find a way to identify and solve it?

What is the craziest thing you have seen at the pier?

JB: We just saw it. We just saw a fight. It was about something stupid. They’re kids. It was nothing major.

PH: The park police watched the fight, and then after it happened they decided that once it was over they would intervene. I clearly saw a park police officer sit there and watch the fight from the beginning to the end, and when more park rangers came, he came over.

JB: We had normal civilians come in and break off the fight. We have people who are suppose to enforce certain things, but they only enforce stuff when they feel like it.

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