PHOTOS: New Yorkers always have a way of coming together to share and strengthen the sense of community in the midst of tragedy. Thousands gathered at New York City’s LGBT Community Center Monday night to join City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, DOMA Supreme Court plaintiff Edith Windsor, Corey Johnson, and representatives from the New York City Anti-Violence Project, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, Bronx LGBTQ Center, GLAAD, Make the Road NY, the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, and other partnering organizations in a peaceful march to the spot where Mark Carson was murdered last week.
The spirit of the crowd went from confused to angry to inspired as they turned each corner of Greenwich Village en route to the destination. Glennda Testone, Executive Director of the Center took the podium at the intersection of 8th Street and Sixth Avenue and addressed the crowd:
“We have always been a community that takes care of each other. Sometimes when no one else will. We’ll continue to do that. We will continue to show up for each other. There are hundreds of us here tonight, but the truth is, that there are five hundred thousand LGBT people who come to New York because they want to live openly. They want to be who they are, they want to love, and they should be able to do that. They should be able to do that on any street, any avenue, any neighborhood in this great city that we all love…the violence we’ve seen in recent weeks is a reminder. It’s a reminder that political and legal gains do not always necessarily translate immediately to the street, to every street, and to every person. This is a reminder. It’s why we need to stay united, it’s why we need our voices to be strong, and we can’t go back. We are here today not only to mourn the loss of our community, not only to take back some of our power, and to take back that sense of safety, but we are here together, as one, to create a strong voice that says we will not be threatened, we will not be harrassed, we will not be taunted, and we will not be killed because of who we are and who we love.”
After Testone finished speaking, Flourine Bompars, a relative of Carson, addressed the crowd, asking that Mark’s death not be in vain. Kevin Atkins and Nick Porto, victims of one of the bevy of other New York-based hate crimes, also addressed the crowd. One of the most dynamic speakers, Jackie Rowe-Adams from Harlem Mothers Save, approached the stage leading the audience in chanting “Stop the Violence. Put the Guns Down, Throw the Peace on Us!”
There is no quick resolution to the emptiness felt by the loss of Carson, nor the hurt inflicted in any of the recent brutalities, but the spirit of New Yorkers coming together to amplify the crimes and realities of the past few weeks feels like a start.
Officials announced Monday that police would increase their presence in the Village and nearby neighborhoods through the end of June, gay pride month.
Photography by Jeffrey James Keyes
Flourine Bompars & Mark Carson’s Family
Nick Porto & Kevin Atkins
Jackie Rowe-Adams, Harlem Mother’s Save
Marjorie Hill, GMHC
Joseph Tolton, Harlem’s Rivers at Rehoboth Congregation