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Councilman Van Bramer to Marry Next Summer

Nov. 20, 2011 By Christian Murray

Last Monday at a Puerto Rican restaurant, Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer was presented with an engagement ring and a marriage proposal from his long-time partner.

Van Bramer, despite being caught off guard, said “yes” and is now scheduled to marry Sunnyside Gardens resident Dan Hendrick next summer. The pair have been in a relationship for more than 12 years.

“It did catch me by surprise even though we had talked about getting married for years,” Van Bramer said. “I was at a conference and marriage was not on my mind that day.”

With Van Bramer’s acceptance, he is likely to be the first openly gay elected official in Queens history to be married. Since July 24, 2011, gay marriage has been recognized by New York State.

Furthermore, Van Bramer is likely to be among the first gay elected officials across the state to tie the knot. Council Speaker Christine Quinn is expected to get married next year and a number of state officials have or are planning on doing so.

Hendrick, a popular Sunnyside figure, said he spoke with close friends and got their thoughts on how to propose marriage. “I ultimately did it in a restaurant. It was beautiful setting on the water. I picked up engagement rings for the two of us, had some nice things to say and sprung the question.”

Van Bramer and Hendrick are planning to marry in late July or early August in Western Queens. Van Bramer and Hendrick said they aim to put together a guest list of about 200 people.

“My mother was in tears of joy when I told her the news,” Van Bramer said. Meanwhile, Hendrick said his family was so pleased that his 12-year-old niece has already volunteered to be a flower girl.

The location of Queens makes sense to Hendrick. “We are both Queens guys,” he said.

Hendrick, who hails from Warren, Michigan, was a former editor-in-chief at the Queens Chronicle, has authored a book about Jamaica Bay and is currently producing a film about it. He is also the communications director for the New York League of Conservation Voters, an environmental advocacy group.

Meanwhile, Van Bramer was baptized in St. Teresa’s Church in Woodside, grew up in the neighborhood and worked for several years as the chief external affairs officer at the Queens Public Library prior to being a councilman.

The two met in Kew Gardens in 1999 at a LGBT community fundraiser. At the time, Van Bramer was living in a studio in Woodside, while Hendrick was sharing a 3-brm house in Long Island City.

For Hendrick, he felt that now was the right time to get married. “We had talked about marriage for a long time but it was important for us to do it here [in New York] when it was legal,” he said.  “Some of our friends went to Canada or Connecticut and we wanted to wait, where we could celebrate it properly.”

Van Bramer echoed Hendrick’s thoughts. “This has always been about love and commitment and we have always had that; however, now we have this terrific opportunity to celebrate that love and commitment in front of our families and friends and that will be powerful.”

The couple might adopt children one day. “I come from large family, where I am one of eight children,” Van Bramer said.  “It is something we think about and talk about, but we are not there yet.”

“Right now we live busy lives,” Hendrick said.

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John K. Wilson

In the Opra Channel’s made-for-TV-movie, these two can be played by Peter Scolari and Jimmy Sommerville (from Bronski Beat).
I take great pride in this casting coup.

Stephen Johnson

I wish them all the luck in the world.

I also wish VB would get serious about the surfeit of drug stores, pawn shops and 99 cent stores bringing down the tone of the neighborhood.

If you drive by Sunnyside you would assume that mostly poor geriatrics who are regularly forced to hock the family heirlooms.

And as for Sunnyside’s entrepreneurs. What’s the matter with you guys? Why would you pursue another Duane Rede or Dunkin’ Donuts or 99 Cent store franchise when the neighborhoods already lousy with them?

I’m genuinely asking because I’m puzzled by the group think, herd mentality that seems to be operating here.

On the Boulevard only Salt and Fat and Molly Blooms have even dared to break the mold and in doing so they have become the two bright spots on a forgettable canvas.

allow_me _to_retort

May you make beautiful babies together. Oh wait, you can’t. Human biology must be homophobic.


Cool! 12 years is a good amount of time to figure out if love is true. I wish you both a lifetime of happiness


Apparently yesterday was some sort of holiday in the bigot community, because it took a whole day of this article being up before the homophobes showed up.


Congratulation to the happy couple. Congrats to the Sunnyside Post for the scoop on this great news item.

I do not think that Molly Blooms can hold 200 people!

You might need the crab house down by the water in lic for this wedding.

Rob MacKay

The guy on the left is kind of cute. Actually, I kind of like the one on the right, too. What a couple!


If Mr. Hendrick had wanted to make the whole thing more Sunnyside-esque he would have proposed in a Dollar Store.

But seriously, congrats to the happy couple.


Congratulations, I highly recommend Moss+Isaac wedding photographers. They live there in Sunnyside and have a great web site.


Wow, how wonderful! And a beautifully done article. Best of luck to both of them.

Thanks to JVB for continuing to fight for your constituents no matter their backgrounds, and for demonstrating that Queens can be a welcoming place for everybody.


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