I Marched in The Bronx Columbus Day Parade with a Rainbow Flag. Here’s Why.

IMG_3954I was proud to march in the annual Bronx Columbus Day Parade. I marched because of my respect for the Italian Community, the Morris Park Community, and for the inclusivity of this great community in this Borough of inclusivity. I marched as a forever Bronxite who lives right outside of Morris Park.

I also marched as a gay man.

Just as in years gone by, the Italian community was the object of discrimination, prejudice and hate so has the LGBT community been subject to discrimination, prejudice and hate. I marched to celebrate the Morris Park Community and the great culture and roots of the Italian community. I am well aware of the past prejudices and even present prejudices that still exist.

I now have a story of prejudice to tell.

Back in the 1950s and 1960s, my parents were very close friends with Marie and Charlie Lombino. They lived on Croes Avenue. They had a son. His name was Sal Lombino. Sal married Anita who was the daughter of other close friends of my parents, Harry and Shirley Melnick. The lived on Knox Place here in the Bronx. Sal was an acclaimed author. In the early 1950s he wrote science fiction books. One, and possibly his first book was, “Find the Feathered Serpent” in 1952 followed by “Danger: Dinosaurs and “Rocket to Luna”.As a ten year old I loved them, and I still have these books autographed by him. In 1954 he wrote The Blackboard Jungle which described his experience as a teacher in New York City. That earned him literary acclaim. He then wrote several police mystery novels:” The 87th Precinct” Novels. He also wrote the screenplay for Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds”.

Many of you are probably saying “Who was this author Sal Lombino? I never heard of him.” or “I seem to recall those books but not a Sal Lombino as the author.” In fact, for the first science fiction novels he went under the name Richard Marsten which incorporated the names of his sons Ted, Mark and Richard. For Blackboard Jungle he used the pseudonym Evan Hunter. For the police mystery novels he went under Ed McBain. Why, you may ask? I was able to make contact with him around 2000. He did recall the connection. I asked about the reason for his name change which I already knew in my heart. He said that back then Italians were expected to either dig ditches or to be mobsters. Prior to changing his name he was turned down by some publishing houses. Sal had said at one point “If you’re an Italian-American, you’re not supposed to be a literate person”. Sal passed away in 2005. I wish I could change the names on the books he authored to SALVATORE A. LOMBINO.

I marched to show that Italians remember the prejudices of the past and are inclusive and loving to all. They do not want history to repeat itself for other groups. Together we will remember not only our roots but the roots of all.

I am most appreciative of Tony Signorile, Al D’Angelo and Silvio Mazella. They are great leaders in a great community.

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