The summer of 2013 has been a frightening one for LGBT people, bookended by horrific acts of violence against members of our community. In May, 32-year-old Mark Carson was shot to death in the West Village in an anti-gay hate crime. Just a few weeks back, 21-year-old transgender fashion student Islan Nettles was beaten into a coma by a man in Harlem, as he yelled homophobic and transphobic slurs. She later died from her injuries.
For whatever reason, anti-gay hate crimes are on the rise in New York City, and the rates are set to double from last year by the end of 2013. Though Nettles and Carson were two high profile casualties of this type of violence, the summer has been punctuated by act after act after act of violence against LGBT individuals, both in New York City and elsewhere in the country. In Cleveland, Ohio over the weekend, Jared Fox was attacked by a mob of teenagers, while in Denver, Colorado, Jared Olson was beaten by a man shouting anti-gay slurs on Monday.
Virtually all of the mayoral candidates have come out strongly against the rise of violence against LGBT people, and lesbian City Council Speaker and mayoral candidate Christine Quinn even worked with the LGBT Center to offer free self defense classes for anyone interested in taking them (in case you missed them, the next is on September 12th at the Ali Forney Center in Harlem).
But what if tough talk and free self-defense classes aren’t enough? With the slogan “armed gays don’t get bashed,” the Pink Pistols started in 2000 as a response to the daily threat of anti-gay violence that the community faces. They still have dozens of chapters across the country, and are focused on training LGBT individuals in firearm usage and laws in their own states.
Gun control has been a hot-button issue this year especially with the tragedy in Sandy Hook, but the disturbing rise in homophobic violence begs the question:
Could gun ownership empower the LGBT community as it becomes more concerned each time with news of yet another bashing?