Last edited: December 08, 2004

Mayor Cianci Names New Liaisons to Providence Community

Pride Co-Chair Alex Gorriaran, The Castro’s Lorianne Green Tapped After Himmelsbach Resignation

In Newsweekly, February 28, 2002

By Fred Kuhr, news editor

PROVIDENCE—Mayor Vincent "Buddy" Cianci announced this week that he has appointed a man and a woman to serve as his liaisons to the gay and lesbian community.

Alex Gorriaran, best known as co-chair of the Rhode Island Pride Committee, and Lorianne Green, co-owner of what was The Castro coffeehouse, will begin in their new positions on Feb. 25.

They will replace Fitzgerald Himmelsbach, who recently resigned from the position following controversy over his involvement with The Gay Mega-Plex, a Providence bathhouse.

At a press conference at Providence City Hall Feb. 19, Mayor Cianci praised Himmelsbach for his work as the city’s first such liaison. Himmelsbach was named to the post in 1997.

"Fitzgerald went above and beyond the call of duty," said Cianci. "… He did a wonderful job and accomplished a great deal during his tenure. It’s not easy being the first. Fitzgerald met the challenges of the position and gave us a rock solid foundation on which to continue to build."

Cianci also credited Himmelsbach with a number of accomplishments in the city, including the flying of the rainbow pride flag atop City Hall during annual Pride celebrations, bringing the International Network of Lesbian and Gay Officials conference to Providence, playing a leading role in the Rhode Island Violence Recovery Program, and working with the Providence Police Department to better handle hate crime incidents.

Cianci then praised Gorriaran and Green, who will become part-time city employees earning $20,000 each annually.

"With Alex and Lorianne leading the way, we are able to do twice as much within the community," said Cianci. "Our accessibility to the lesbian community will assuredly improve even further with Lorianne’s help, while both Alex and Lorianne build upon what has already been established.

"Our city is proud of the progress we have made in making government more accessible to all segments of our diverse population," Cianci continued. "We are dedicated to furthering our mission to unite all people of our city, to heighten awareness and sensitivity of all city employees, to better coordinate the vast number of service providers to the gay and lesbian community, and to meeting the needs of all of our cherished residents." Gorriaran has been director of marketing for Hook-Fast Specialties Inc., a manufacturer of emblematic jewelry, since 1991. He is also owner of Pride Promotions, a Providence-based mail order company. He is a 1995 graduate of the University of Rhode Island, where he majored in marketing, minored in Spanish. Gorriaran is bilingual. He has been co-chair and president of the Rhode Island Pride Committee since 1996.

Green is the co-owner of The Castro Café, which closed last year after a devastating fire. Green is also a former East Greenwich police officer. She has an associates degree in science from Dean College. She is a longtime fundraiser and volunteer with such organizations as Rhode Island Youth Pride, AIDS Project Rhode Island, the Providence Gay Men’s Chorus and the Rhode Island Feminist Choir.

While Himmelsbach has already resigned, he has agreed to stay on for a few weeks to help in the transition, said Cianci.

When asked about the circumstances concerning Himmelsbach’s resignation, Cianci talked frankly about Himmelsbach’s ties to the Mega-Plex bathhouse, which were revealed to the general public on WJAR-TV/Channel 10 in a report that has been called salacious by activists.

Even Cianci called the Channel 10 report "unfair."

He said that he resented that the report made it seem as if the city has regulatory control over such a business, which it does not. "Not even the state does," he said.

Cianci added that while the report made allegations of illegal drug use and prostitution at the Mega-Plex—a legal business—the city has received no reports of any such illegal behavior there.

In addition, he told a room full of reporters, "Sodomy is legal in the state of Rhode Island."

Cianci also said that Himmelsbach’s resignation was a mutual decision made by both Cianci and Himmelsbach, in part because of Himmelsbach’s plans to expand his various Providence businesses, taking up more of his time.

When Gorriaran was asked about taking on a position within an administration that is being challenged by an openly gay candidate—state Rep. David Cicilline—Gorriaran simply praised Cianci’s work on behalf of the gay and lesbian community.

"The Mayor has been there since Day 1," said Gorriaran.

Cianci then added that the timing of his announcement, coming a little over a week after Cicilline’s official declaration, was merely coincidence. "This [press conference] was not called to say, ‘Hey, this is what we’re doing for the community,’" said Cianci. "We are simply continuing to do the same thing we’ve done for years."

On the subject of his role with the Pride Committee, Gorriaran said that he sees no conflict of interest in taking the job with Cianci’s office. "In fact, it will probably make the process [of putting on Pride Day events] easier," said Gorriaran. "And I look forward to it."

Both Gorriaran and Green acknowledged that they have big shoes to fill in light of Himmelsbach’s resignation, but they say they are ready for the challenge.

"Fitzgerald has built the foundation," said Gorriaran. "And Lori and I are prepared to work hard to move the community forward."

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