On Tuesday, the City Council speaker, Corey Johnson, took a tour of Hart Island, off the coast of the Bronx, where the city buries its unclaimed dead. He asked to be taken to a remote spot on the island’s southernmost tip where in 1985 the city buried some of the earliest casualties of AIDS in an effort to quarantine them.
The graves were in an overgrown area and some of the headstones were toppled over, said Mr. Johnson, who is the city’s first openly gay male speaker and is H.I.V. positive.
“I was sort of taken aback that that area felt sort of neglected,” he said. Mr. Johnson said the visit strengthened his support for transferring the jurisdiction of the island from the Department of Corrections to the Parks Department.
He added, “I knelt down in front of one of the markers and closed my eyes for a minute and thought of all the gay men who lost their lives.”