Last edited: February 14, 2005

Praise for Cianci and New Liaisons

In Newsweekly, February 28, 2002

By Fred Kuhr, news editor

TOPIC: Providence Mayor Vincent "Buddy" Cianci has named his two new liaisons to the city’s gay and lesbian community.

POSITION: Not only has Cianci made excellent choices for the positions, but he has also shown once again that he is an incredibly strong ally on behalf of this community.

Providence Mayor Vincent "Buddy" Cianci deserves much praise this week. First of all, he announced his new liaisons to the gay and lesbian community—Alex Gorriaran, who many know as co-chair of the Rhode Island Pride Committee, and Lorianne Green, who is co-owner of The Castro Café. Cianci could not have made stronger choices. Gorriaran, not only has experience working with City Hall on behalf of the Pride Committee, but he is bilingual, which is a strong asset in a city that has large Latino and gay communities and, therefore, a sizeable gay Latino population.

Green, whose Castro Café had to close last year after a devastating fire, has a long history of involvement with the gay and lesbian community. She is also a former East Greenwich police officer, which will certainly give her clout when dealing with the Providence Police Department on issues related to the community.

Cianci deserves praise not only for his strong choices, however. He is also to be commended for splitting the position of mayoral liaison into two part-time jobs employing both a gay man and a lesbian. Not only are "two heads better than one," as Cianci himself said during a press conference, but having a woman in the position will certainly give the city’s lesbians and bisexual women increased access to City Hall.

But most impressively is how Cianci has dealt with the media-driven controversy surrounding the resignation of his former liaison, Fitzgerald Himmelsbach.

After WJAR-TV/Channel 10, Providence’s NBC affiliate, aired a sensational report alleging illegal drug use and prostitution at The Gay Mega-Plex, which is run by Himmelsbach, some worried that this would taint the city’s gay community and force Cianci to distance himself from the community. Such could not be further from what happened. In fact, Cianci has stood up for Himmelsbach and his business, which is legal.

Cianci has called the WJAR report "unfair" and said he did not appreciate that the report made it seem like the city and state had regulatory powers over The Mega-Plex, which Cianci clearly called a "bathhouse" in front of a room packed with reporters.

He added that the city has no reason "to go into" The Mega-Plex and has received no reports of illegal activity.

Besides, Cianci told reporters with characteristic frankness, "Sodomy is legal in the state of Rhode Island."

While that is a true statement—the state’s law prohibiting sodomy was repealed in the 1990s—how many politicians would be willing to make such a statement as a means of support for people’s right to have adult consensual sex?

In other words, Cianci was acknowledging that gay men have sex (a fact that seemed to be shocking in the WJAR report) and that it is a legal activity. End of discussion.

Yes, it is sad that Himmelsbach’s resignation was partially a result of the controversy, but Cianci and Himmelsbach say that his decision to leave the liaison post was a mutual one based in part on the fact that Himmelsbach’s business ventures are taking up more of his time, leaving less time to devote to City Hall.

The end result is the city’s gay and lesbian community gets even better representation at City Hall—and Cianci reaffirms himself as the quintessential ally.

(What’s your opinion? News Editor Fred Kuhr can be reached at or 617/426-8246 x.311.)

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