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Gay birdwatcher and victim of Central Park Karen’s viral racism is now taking on a proudly homophobic politician

Nick Duffy June 8, 2020
Chris Cooper, the gay New York bird-lover who was catapulted to international attention when he was subjected to racist abuse

Chris Cooper, the gay New York bird-lover who was catapulted to international attention when he was subjected to racist abuse (Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for HBO)

Chris Cooper, the gay New York bird lover who was catapulted to international attention when he was subjected to racist abuse, is using his new platform to take on an anti-LGBT+ politician.

The birdwatcher made the news in May when he filmed a racist encounter he had in Central Park with a white woman who called the police and falsely claimed that he was threatening her.

Cooper, a comic book author and long-time LGBT+ activist, is now using his platform to take on a homophobic politician.

The campaigner has thrown his support behind Ritchie Torres, who is facing off against the “proud to be homophobic” Rubén Díaz Sr in the June 23 Democratic primary for New York’s 15th congressional district.

In an interview with the New York Daily News, Cooper called on people to oppose Díaz for saying “really vile things, particularly as regards the LGBT+ community, of which I’m a member.”

Chris Cooper: New York City Councilman Ruben Diaz Sr. will face off against Ritchie Torres
New York City Councilman Ruben Diaz Sr. will face off against Ritchie Torres (Andrew Lichtenstein/Getty)

Díaz previously waged a legal battle against equal marriage despite his own granddaughter being a lesbian, has claimed that New York City is “controlled by the homosexual community”, and launched smears against gay city council speaker Corey Johnson.

New York councilman Ritchie Torres is running to prevent Díaz from taking the seat in Congress – but polling suggests he may be trailing in the race.

Chris Cooper backs challenger to proudly homophobic politician.

Cooper said: “Ritchie in his own person unites a whole bunch of things. He is openly gay. He is Latino. He is the intersection of a couple of things that are about equality and justice where people aren’t getting their fair shake.”

He continued: “Rubén Díaz Sr has been on gay people’s radar for a long time as far as how he has come after us over and over and tried to stifle our fundamental equal rights.

“Ritchie’s been openly gay and doing great stuff in the City Council for a while. Hell, yeah, I’ll support Ritchie.”

Democrat Ritchie Torres is running against Ruben Diaz
Ritchie Torres is running against Ruben Diaz

He suggested that Torres’ message would resonate with “anybody who believes in fairness, anybody who looked at what happened to me in Central Park and thinks it’s not right”.

Torres told the newspaper: “I’m honoured to have the support of Chris Cooper. He’s both a symbol of racial justice and a lifelong champion of LGBT+ equality and he knows that the poisonous politics of Rubén Díaz Sr represent a profound threat.”

‘Proud to be homophobic’ Rubén Díaz Sr has a long anti-LGBT+ history.

Díaz has previously declared: “If opposing certain behaviours, if preaching the truth of Gospel, makes me homophobic, then I am proud to be homophobic.”

The candidate has also previously admitted he is “not a Democrat” on “moral issues” – and has said he is undecided on whether he will vote for Joe Biden or Donald Trump in 2020.

Unsurprisingly, Díaz has a controversial past in politics – largely due to his extreme views on LGBT+ issues. He was once forced to resign from a post after suggesting that the Gay Games sporting event would result in the spread of AIDS by encouraging homosexuality.

He also filed legal action in a bid to block the Harvey Milk High School, which caters for ostracised LGBT+ youth, claiming that it discriminates against straight kids.

More: Central Park, Central Park Karen, Chris Cooper, Homophobia, New York, racism, Ritchie Torres, Ruben Diaz Sr

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