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Andrew Yang, running for NYC mayor, loses endorsement of LGBTQ group over 'tokenizing' remarks

Separately, more than 400 Asian and Pacific Islander New Yorkers signed a petition and launched a website opposing the onetime presidential contender's candidacy.
Image: New York Mayoral Candidate Andrew Yang Rides Subway In Solidarity Against Anti-Asian Hate Crimes
New York mayoral candidate Andrew Yang speaks to members of the media along Canal Street in Chinatown in New York City on April 5.Spencer Platt / Getty Images

Andrew Yang, the 2020 Democratic presidential contender who is running for mayor of New York City, lost the endorsement of a prominent LGBTQ political group Thursday.

In an interview Wednesday night with the Stonewall Democratic Club of NYC, an influential LGBTQ political group, Yang offended members with his remarks.

"It was like he never met a gay person his life, even though he kept reminding us people on his staff were gay," filmmaker Harris Doran, who attended the endorsement meeting as a member, said Thursday. "It was like tokenizing us."

He added, "We're involved, smart people, and you can't show up like you haven't studied for the exam."

The Yang campaign had not responded to a request for comment by late Thursday.

The New York Times first reported the development.

Yang enjoys high name recognition in the crowded race, and early polling suggests he has a slight edge in the Democratic primary field. Yang, who promised a monthly universal basic income of $1,000 as a presidential contender, announced his mayoral campaign in January.

Doran said Yang showed very little familiarity with the issues facing LGBTQ New Yorkers, such as jobs and homelessness, but talked about "going to a lesbian bar over and over."

"He was talking to us like we were children or aliens," Doran said.

Doran posted a partial recording of the meeting on Twitter on Thursday afternoon.

"I genuinely do love you and your community," Yang said, according to a video recording of his remarks that was shared on Twitter by Doran but recorded by another group member. "You're so human and beautiful. You make New York City special. I have no idea how we ever lose to the Republicans given that you all are frankly in, like, leadership roles all over the Democratic Party."

He added: "We have, like, this incredible secret weapon. It's not even secret. It's, like, we should win everything because we have you all."

The group, however, ended up endorsing his opponent, City Comptroller Scott Stringer.

A recent poll found that 22 percent of likely Democratic voters favored Yang. Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams was second, with 13 percent, followed by Stringer, at 11 percent, and Maya Wiley, former counsel to Mayor Bill de Blasio, in fourth, at 7 percent.

It is not the only issue plaguing Yang's campaign. On Wednesday, more than 400 Asian Americans in New York City had signed a petition and launched a website, Asian and Pacific Islander New Yorkers Against Andrew Yang, opposing his campaign, arguing that "representation alone is simply not enough."

The group cited his "pro-police" policies in the wake of calls for widespread reform and racial justice, his appearances on right-wing media and his Washington Post op-ed urging Asian Americans to show their "American-ness" during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The group, which includes community leaders and local officials, also cited a report that Yang had said that the nonprofit fellowship program he started, Venture for America, might not be the best fit for Black applicants.

"In 2022, New York City needs a leader who can truly grapple with the complex racial and economic injustices and the needs of Asian and Pacific Islander New Yorkers in the pandemic's aftermath," the petition says. "There are candidates more aligned with social and racial justice values, with deeper commitments to APIA and BIPOC communities, whose mayoralty would actually benefit our communities, and they are not getting the attention they deserve."