PFLAG Queens Chapter
Parents, Families and Friends
of Lesbians and Gays

15th Annual Morty Manford Awardee

Ari's photo Ari Gershman grew up in Douglaston and attended New York City public schools for twelve years. He received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Religious Studies from the University of Pennsylvania in 2001 and then spent a year teaching elementary school in North Philadelphia. As a teacher, Ari was out to both his students and his colleagues, helping to create a positive, affirming atmosphere in the school.

In 2002, Ari accepted a Fulbright Fellowship and agreed to participate in a cultural exchange program. He represented the United States in South Korea from 2002 to 2003 while teaching English in a public high school and living with a host family. In 2004, Ari joined the staff of New York State Assemblymember Mark S. Weprin. Two years later, he became Assemblymember Weprin’s District Office Manager.

Ari currently serves as Secretary of the Queens Lesbian and Gay Pride Committee (QLGPC). He has helped to organize the Queens Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Pride Parade that takes place every June and the Winter Pride gala event held each year. QLGPC recently launched a film screening series that Ari initiated. The first film screened was Trembling Before G-d, a documentary about LGBT Orthodox Jews.

In the Lesbian and Gay Democratic Club of Queens, Ari is the Membership Chairperson. He maintains the membership list and organizes social events for club members. Ari is also on the board of the Saul Weprin Democratic Club and a member of the Eleanor Roosevelt Democratic Club as well as the Stonewall Democrats of New York City, a citywide LGBT political club.

A lifelong Queens resident, Ari lives in Jamaica Estates with his fabulous boyfriend.

11th Annual Carmel Tavadia Memorial Awardee

Jose's photo
José Peralta is a first-generation Dominican-American, who was first elected to the New York State Assembly at the age of 30. Peralta’s parents came to the United States in search of the American dream and a better life for their children. His parents worked hard to sustain their family to ensure that their children received a quality education that would provide them with opportunities and would teach them the importance of public service.

Peralta has lived in Queens for a total of 25 years and is a product of the public schools in Queens–and is married to his lovely wife Evelyn and has a son named Matthew.

Peralta’s interest in representing issues of concern to his community was demonstrated by his active participation in student government at Queens College, becoming the first Latino Student Body Vice President and subsequently the first Latino Student Body President. He also represented over 200,000 students within the CUNY system as a member of the University Student Senate in which he held the positions of Vice Chair of Legislative affairs and Vice Chair of Fiscal affairs.

In all of these positions, he focused on bringing student concerns to the forefront, often lobbying state officials on the importance of issues such as: state tuition hikes; student healthcare; the reduction of childcare funding and the lack of services available to students with disabilities. He also became involved in local school boards and worked on various political campaigns.

For his work he received numerous citations and awards such as the President Multicultural Award, the CUNY Leadership Award, and the Goodman, Chaney, and Schwerner award – given to a student leader committed to ending racial and gender discrimination.

After graduating from Queens College, Peralta began working with Assemblyman Brian McLaughlin as a community liaison. While there, he not only worked in helping constituents in the Flushing area that the assemblyman represented, but he also worked for the Corona, Jackson Heights and Elmhurst communities – spearheading many immigrant causes and community improvements.

Peralta then served as the Director of the Commission on the Dignity for Immigrants at the NYC Labor Council, representing over 1.5 million union members. The Commission is a partnership between the labor movement and the Archdioceses of New York. Under his direction, the Commission has championed the mission of creating political empowerment for all immigrants in a variety of ways, including registering over 20,000 new citizens.

Peralta has been at the forefront of providing affordable health care coverage through the child and family health plus programs, as well as, providing and fighting for the community’s fair share of health care dollars for Elmhurst Hospital, and its many surrounding clinics.. He spearheaded Operation Impact programs insuring that over 70 new police officers patrol the streets of his community every year a new police class graduates. He has envisioned and turned into reality the Corona-Elmhurst Economic Development Center, which is geared towards helping small businesses maintain their business by teaching them the rules, regulations and laws of the city & state The "Center" has partnered with other institutions like Health Plus in order to assist small businesses with affordable health care, with the Consortium for Workers Education (CWE) in order to help people with ESL and business computer classes, with Accion New York in order to provide micro loans throughout the area, with Neighborhood Housing Services (NHS) in order to provide people with the tools they need to buy homes.

Peralta has worked tirelessly on discrimination cases. He has played a crucial role in the fight to increase the minimum wage in NY State. Peralta knows that he represents the "United Nations" of all Assembly districts and appreciates the rich culture that each group brings to the district. Peralta has taken on the challenge of providing for those many times forgotten seniors that have worked so hard to make this state and country what it is today, by insuring that home aide programs and senior centers are well funded and that quality of life is not diminished. He has been involved with innumerable health, housing, education, labor and senior issues affecting his district and all New Yorkers. He is a community leader we can all be proud of.

Peralta is and was a member of various community organizations such as the Dominican American Society, the Gran Alliance of Queens, The Dominican American Hispanic Congress, Community Board 3, and the Inter-American Political and Civic Parliament. He was also a member of Local 153 OPEIU. Peralta is married to his lovely wife Evelyn and has a son named Matthew. Standing Committee Assignments 2005: Banks; Cities; Consumer Affairs and Protection; Correction; Election Law; Labor. Association membership 2005: Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force member and Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus member.

3rd Annual Brenda Howard Memorial Awardee

Wendy's photo Wendy Moscow is a Queens native and long-time activist. A founder of the Queens Lesbian and Gay Pride Committee, she was co-chair of the March Committee from its inception until 2001 and was proud to serve as a 2006 Grand Marshal. Wendy is a consistent voice for bi recognition and inclusion in the LGBT community.

In the early 80's, she and her then-partner Donna Jordan were founding members of the Lesbian and Gay Political Action Club of Queens at a time when local legislators were famously saying that there were no LGBT people in our borough. They were also LGBT advocates on the Board of NOW in Queens. In 1999, with a group of other Queensites, Wendy went down to Georgia to do civil disobedience at the School of the Americas, which teaches Latin American officers ways to violently suppress movements for freedom and justice in their home countries.

But Wendy's activism goes back to the 70's, when she was a young anti-Vietnam War protester. She remains active in the anti-war movement today. Wendy is on the steering committee of the Queens Network for Peace and Justice, and is on the Board of the Flushing Jewish Community Council, which sponsors a food pantry, multicultural events and other community programs. A committed Unitarian Universalist, she is on the Board of the UU Women's Association.

Wendy is an artist, percussionist, dancer, workshop leader, creator of Earth-honoring rituals and conductor of interfaith walking tours. She taught global dance at the Poppenhusen Institute for the last two years and is a volunteer reading tutor. She also works in Media Services at Queens College and lives in Flushing with her husband, Bob Hemstreet and two fabulous cats.

Other Information

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Last updated 09/15/07 by LDN