By Tara Kyle
GREENWICH VILLAGE — Amid reports of gay hate crimes in Greenwich Village and Chelsea and a national discussion about suicide among LGBT youth, the Chelsea-based Gay Men's Health Crisis Center launched a new anti-homophobia subway campaign Monday.
The "I Love My Boo" campaign will plaster 1,000 subway cars and 150 subway stations with posters that highlight healthy, monogamous relationships among black and Latino gay men.
The posters depict young black and Latino gay couples kissing, hugging and holding hands with the message: "We're about trust, respect and commitment. We're proud of who we are and how we love."
"There are a lot things gay men are doing right … we are supporting each other, we are loving each other," said Francisco Roque, GMHC's director of community health.
The launch party for the campaign was held at Christopher Park on Monday, just across the street from the Stonewall Inn, where a 34-year-old gay man was attacked in an alleged hate crime Sunday.
As the posters make their debut in subway cars and stations across the city, Roque acknowledged that news of bias incidents gave him "a little bit of anxiety."
But GMHC representatives emphasized that the hate crimes only reinforce the need for this sort of campaign.
"A time of difficulty is not the time to run and hide in the closet," said GMHC CEO Marjorie Hill.
The posters don't depict chiseled, semi-naked bodies, and Roque said he wanted to avoid exploitation by instead presenting images of what love and support looks like. A Facebook page for "I Love My Boo" also encourages users to submit their own images.
Tyrone Wallace, a 26-year-old Brooklyn resident, is one of the spokesmodels for the campaign. He posed with his longtime boyfriend, Sammi, who he met seven years ago at a youth center.
"Everyone kept coming up to us and saying congratulations, I'm inspired, I wish I could find someone," Sammi said. "The message of the pictures is that above stigma will always rise love."