He made history in 1991, when he, along with Antonio Pagan, became the first two openly gay members of the City Council.
When he was elected to the upper chamber in Albany, he was only the second LGBTQ member in the legislature, and the first HIV-positive member of the State Senate.
But long before his groundbreaking career in politics, which ended in 2012, Duane was raised in Queens.
“I live in Manhattan, I got elected in Manhattan,” he said, “but you can’t keep me away from Queens.”
Duane grew up in Flushing and attended both St. Andrew Avellino School and Holy Cross High School. He played sports almost every Saturday, including baseball and basketball.
“My father liked to coach,” he said. “I can tell you where every field is in Queens.”
He can recall his first time voting and how excited he was going to his polling place. Duane was active not only in his local parish, but also in high school.
“I was always organizing people to do things,” he said. “If there was a degree in organizing, I would’ve gone for that.”
It was only after Duane graduated that he felt he “needed to move away,” crossing the river to Manhattan where he still lives.
But Duane said he comes back to Queens all the time. He has family in the borough, and still has fond memories here.
“I consider Queens the center of the universe,” he said. “That connection will never end.”