Westchester County Board of Legislators Celebrates LGBTQ+ Pride Month and Honors Arts Powerhouse Janet Langsam

On June 3, the Westchester County Board of Legislators recognized two exceptional leaders in the LGBTQ+ community: Queer musician, activist, and Ossining community organizer, Christina Picciano, and Athletic Director and LGBTQ Youth Advocate, Coach Anthony Nicodemo of Yonkers. In addition, the Board presented a proclamation to ArtsWestchester legend and CEO, Janet Langsam, on the occasion of her retirement.

Board Chair Vedat Gashi (D- New Castle, Ossining, Somers, Yorktown) welcomed guests in the Chamber and virtually saying, “Tonight we have two special ceremonies: one is for the Board’s annual observance of LGBTQ+ Pride Month, and the other is to celebrate the exceptional career of a remarkable individual, Janet Langsam.”

“There are many Pride celebrations across the County but commemorating Pride month is about more than just parties. It is an opportunity to ‘Reflect – Empower – Unite,’ – this year’s theme for Pride Month. Drawing upon the activist history that started the movement for LGBTQ+ rights, this theme encourages individuals, advocates, community leaders, and elected officials to reflect on the challenges we have overcome together. It empowers us to take action in shaping the future of those who identify under the LGBTQ+ umbrella. At a time of division in our country and the world, this theme calls for unity with and within the LGBTQ+ community and is a call to action for ALL allies, including those of us in government and the private sector, to demonstrate our alliance with the community.”

Legislator Emiljana Ulaj (D – Briarcliff Manor, Cortlandt, Croton, Ossining, Peekskill, Buchanan) presented the first proclamation.

Picciano accepted the proclamation, saying, “I’m deeply honored and grateful to be receiving this recognition and I want to thank the Board of Legislators for your continued advocacy for our community. From creating the LGBTQ Advisory Board to banning conversion therapy, showing up at our Pride celebrations, and your recent support for the Monkeypox vaccine clinics at the LOFT – you represent the true meaning of allyship.”

 The Board declared June 4, 2024 “Christina Picciano Day” in Westchester County.

Legislator David Tubiolo (D – Yonkers, Mt. Vernon) presented the second proclamation saying, “I’m proud to honor both a great friend and a tireless advocate for the community: Anthony Nicodemo. I have known Anthony for many years, and I’m glad to recognize him for LGBTQ Pride Month as an honoree for District 14. We commend him for his dedication to equality and his unwavering support of the LGBTQ community.  As a Legislator representing the City of Yonkers, I also commend Anthony for his work as an educator, a basketball coach, and a youth mentor in my beloved hometown. Congrats, Anthony, and keep up the great work.”

Coach Nicodemo thanked the Legislators for the award saying, “Pride has so many meanings to so many different people. Something that started as a riot in 1969 has blossomed into a month-long celebration of culture and inclusion. Often our community has taken two steps forward and one step back depending on who is currently leading our country, state, or municipalities. I’m grateful to live in a state that values LGBTQ rights and consistently works to ensure protections. Unfortunately, many in the LGBTQ community are not afforded the same protections. Towns in our own County have pushed back against pride festivals and flags during the month of June. We’ve been the targets of the culture wars with book bans and the lack of equity afforded to trans kids. Yet, we are still here and we continue to persevere.”

“I have been an educator for 27 years. My life has been my students and players. I teach and coach to watch them grow into adulthood and become our future leaders. I am privileged to do this on a daily basis and being recognized by this body reassures my career decisions and my ‘coming out’ 11 years ago this month.”

 The Board declared June 5, 2024 “Anthony Nicodemo Day” in Westchester County.

Finally, the entire Board of Legislators joined together in a moving send-off for ArtWestchester CEO, Janet Langsam, who is moving on to CEO Emeritus after over 30+ years. During his remarks, Board Chair Gashi touched on Langsam’s many accomplishments in a lifetime career of championing the arts.

He said, “Janet, your energy, your dedication, and your vision have been unparalleled. Under your dynamic leadership, ArtsWestchester developed into a $6 million agency annually in partnership with the Board of Legislators, which has transformed the arts throughout Westchester…You have accomplished so much in your lifetime and as we go forward, we will continue to reap the benefits of your contributions. It is with great pride, gratitude, admiration, and friendship that I present you with this proclamation.”

Other Legislators stood up and lauded Langsam for her tenacity, her deep commitment to supporting artists of all kinds and in all circumstances, and her understanding of the value of art in our experience of life.

As she accepted the proclamation, Langsam said, “The extraordinary tribute this week by the BOL made my heart sing. The Westchester County Board of Legislators has been a true partner with ArtsWestchester for more than five decades, three of which I have been humbled and privileged to serve as CEO. Together, we have worked to grow a diverse creative sector in Westchester to an economic impact of $182 million annually. Today, Westchester has its own vibrant and robust cultural scene with film, dance, theatre, music, and visual arts thanks to this unique partnership.”

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