Mary Audrey Gallagher, the Irish-American mother of NYC City Council Member Daniel Dromm has been honored with a street naming in Queens, New York.
The Irish American mother of New York City Council Member Daniel Dromm, who chairs the council’s Irish caucus, was honored with a street in Queens co-named in her honor during a weekend ceremony.
Mary Audrey Gallagher Way is the co-name of 91st Street between Northern Boulevard and 34th Avenue in Jackson Heights, where Gallagher was born and raised. She had a distinguished career as an educator and advocate for LGBT rights.
The ceremony was attended by a host of notables paying tribute to Gallagher, who passed in January of this year at the age of 86. Irish Consul General Ciaran Madden was there, as were Congressman Joe Crowley, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, and a number of members of the state Senate and Assembly.
“My mother was really all about family,” said Dromm. “That’s why she stood up for me when I told her I was gay in 1973 – a time when homosexuality was still on a list of mental disorders. She said she was most fearful that I would be discriminated against in life.
You're invited to a street co-naming ceremony for Mary Audrey Gallagher Way. Kindly RSVP to email@example.com or (212) 482-4120. pic.twitter.com/mmfcmNf3mr
— Daniel Dromm (@Dromm25) August 7, 2018
“She fought hard not only for me but for all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth because she understood what family support means to all young people. Over the years, my mother became a mother to many other LGBT folks whose families had rejected them. Her presence at all the LGBT events in Queens and her LGBT activism touched many lives and gave hope to thousands of LGBT people.”
The City Council passed legislation to co-name the street. Council Speaker Corey Johnson applauded the move.
“Mary Audrey Gallagher was a fearless advocate for the LGBTQ community, starting with her unwavering devotion to her son Danny,” he said.
“She was a warm, loving woman who brought joy to all who met her and served as a maternal figure to many LGBTQ kids. Like my mom, Audrey was a PFLAG mom, and I consider myself lucky to have known her. It is a great privilege to have spearheaded legislation to co-name the southeast corner of Northern Boulevard and 91st Street in Audrey’s honor. Every person who walks past this corner will be reminded of Audrey’s legacy.”
Selfhelp attended the co-naming ceremony for the Mary Audrey Gallagher Way street sign on the SE corner of 91st Street & Northern Blvd in Queens. Our #NyNORC Director shared that there were many beautiful testimonies about a life dedicated to service and love. pic.twitter.com/cVSMe81iUZ— Selfhelp (@SelfhelpNY) August 27, 2018
According to a press release from Dromm’s office, Gallagher passed away peacefully on January 4 after enjoying time with her loved ones during the holidays. Born on September 6, 1932, Gallagher graduated from St. John’s University, where she was captain of the school’s cheerleading squad.
She became a public school teacher and some years later married Warren Dromm. Her son Daniel was born soon after. She was also mother to Lori, Marybeth, John, and Joseph.
After opening a nursery school, Gallagher went on to become the director of multiple daycare centers in New York City. She was instrumental in unionizing workers and she helped secure much-needed pay raises for paraprofessionals.
Gallagher’s support of Daniel greatly advanced the rights of the LGBT community through his advocacy and by founding the Queens chapter of Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), of which Gallagher was an active participant.
Thrilled to join Council Member Danny Dromm and many elected reps on Saturday in Jackson Heights for the street co-naming for his wonderful mom Mary Audrey Gallagher Way.— NY Irish Center ☘ (@NYIrishCenter) August 27, 2018
Gallagher, along with her son and PFLAG founder Jeanne Manford, worked to use their voices to fight the good fight against bigotry and intolerance in Queens and throughout New York City. She became a venerable presence in the Queens LGBT community, attending parades, advising the parents of LGBT youth, and wholeheartedly supporting her son in his own endeavors to improve Queens.
“Audrey was a life-long advocate of social justice and equal rights for all,” said Crowley.
Madden said, “The Irish in America have a long and important tradition of public service. Mary Audrey Gallagher was part of that proud tradition, both as a public school teacher and as an activist supporting LGBT rights. Her work in this area meant that she was ahead of many of her generation and so provided leadership to others, helping replace uncertainty and anxiety with acceptance and support.”
Brendan Fay of the Lavender and Green Alliance stated, “Mary Audrey Gallagher’s support and embrace of her gay son extended to his friends and the LGBT community of Queens. We became her extended family. She was a familiar face and welcome presence at every Queens Pride parade, St. Pat’s for All parade and Queens PFLAG gatherings for the last quarter of a century.
“She had a hug and a word of encouragement for everyone but especially for those who needed it most: parents and LGBT children struggling in a world of prejudice.
“Her love of Irish music is reflected in her story of naming Danny after her favorite Irish ballad ‘Danny Boy.' She told stories of her own Irish American upbringing and her years as a New York City public school teacher. Audrey was a strong supporter of our Irish LGBT group, the Lavender and Green Alliance and our efforts to march in the Fifth Avenue St. Patrick’s Day parade.
“As the Irish phrase says, ‘Ní bheidh a leithéid ann arís’ – her like will never be seen again.”