QUESTION: Should We Bear Arms To Protect Ourselves From Gay Bashings?

divineThe 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?

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  • GlitterKidder

    I read the article however the photo of Devine may be in poor taste. All I can here is her famous line, ” Who wants to die for art?”. Guess I missed the the point.

  • Alan down in Florida

    As a corollary to your question – with our Stand Your Ground law in Florida a gay basher can attack a gay person and if that person fights back then the basher can claim they feared for their life and shoot and kill the gay person and get away with the murder.

  • hf2hvit

    @GlitterKidder: But Dawn Davenport blew Richard Speck

  • Horse Lips

    For the record I am a strong advocate for strict gun control, but in answer to this question I say “Why the hell not?”.

  • Bozen

    If you are equipped with the knowledge and skills to successfully bear arms, and feel you need to do so for your own personal protection,

    Then yeah, go for it.

  • Whup-Ass Master

    @Alan down in Florida: For that very reason, I think gays should feel free to pack heat. The 2nd amendment applies to us too.

  • jwrappaport

    Fascinating question. My intuition is yes – I’m all for gay empowerment and a steadfast refusal to be a victim. I think it also depends where you live. I can understand carrying a weapon in a place like Chicago, New York, or LA, but a place like Tucson, Arlington, Costa Mesa – not so much. I’m still up in the air.

    Lezbehonest: I’m also clumsy and terrified of guns. I think my happy medium is to settle down with a cop/combat vet who will keep me safe while I eviscerate our opponents with my wit.

  • Fitz

    I think it is important to have the means to protect your family and yourself.
    That is all I will say.

  • kevininbuffalo

    @Bozen: I think you’re right. If GLBT folk have the training and skills to know when and how to use a weapon, why not?

  • WhyteRabbit

    i don’t like guns, but there are several alternatives that i am very fond of :)

  • Caleb in SC

    @jwrappaport: JW, I am a military vet. I’d like to apply for that position. ;)

  • the other Greg

    Most gay bashings occur at night, and most occur near gay bars. And all the recent ones mentioned in the article have been in the warm weather months.

    I’d venture to guess that the only time 90% of the people reading this are EVER pedestrians after 11pm or so, is when you (we) have had a few drinks, and maybe more. And maybe more than alcohol. (And those of you who don’t drink or do drugs, you’re almost never out that late anyway.)

    Will Queerty run a fashion piece to suggest the right pants for inebriated gay guys to hide their guns in? In the summer months? Especially after, say, a night of dancing?

    The Queerty staff haven’t thought this one through. Keep in mind that you really can’t work guns into your regular partying routine!

    To organize more Pink Pistols chapters, however, would be totally appropriate.

  • AnitaMann

    Yes. Definitely carry a weapon but only if you’ve been trained how to use it and are prepared to use it. I met both criteria and it saved me life. No regrets.

  • Vartan X.

    @Alan down in Florida: SYG doesn’t give people a right to provoke a conflict to justify the use of deadly force. Stop pulling things out of your butt. Your imaginary scenarios are irrelevant. However, what’s relevant is the fact that these poor victims of anti-gay hate crimes could’ve been alive and well if they had the means to defend themselves. Every major city with strict gun control laws also has the highest rates of gun violence. How is that possible if gun control works??

  • Bob LaBlah

    The tragedies that happened in NYC and elsewhere are unfortunate to say the least. However, I STRONGLY advise those of you who choose firearms for protection to understand this: from day one guns were designed to kill. Once that bullet leaves the barrel there is no way it is coming back. It is going to go strait in the direction the barrel was aimed. If your aim is off and YOU hit another gay person (or anyone else) by accident guess what you have now become?

    Bullets can and do paralyze people for life. The best course is a self defense course that does not require firearms. You are the one in control (in the case of a gun) only if you got your gun out first. Don’t forget that. Imagine pulling a gun only to have it taken away from you because you froze in panic knowing just what IS going to happen once that trigger is pulled.

  • GayTampaCowboy

    Clearly this is an individual decision. And, as others have posted above, if you DO choose to have a firearm and can secure a “conceal and carry” permit,” and you have been fully trained and certified on the proper/legal use of a gun – and KNOW your rights and responsibilities as a gun owner – I see no reason why a gay person shouldn’t do so.

    The irony of so many of the recent attacks is that the individuals and couples were literally just WALKING on the sidewalk – either near or coming out of a gay bar/club. And, if memory serves, one of the attacks was on two men who were just walking BY a gay bar and weren’t gay at all! So, the fact that these seem random give more fodder for being armed.

    While i believe that non-violent resistance is the preferred option, far too many of our gay brothers and sisters are being attacked and killed by intolerant thugs. Do i believe being armed will change a person’s mind or beliefs when it comes to a wider acceptance of gay persons and couples – no. Do i believe that we all have the right to defend ourselves from such hate-driven attacks – yes.

    My only closing thought is something my grandfather told me when he was teaching me about guns. He always said, “Don’t carry a weapon if you’re not prepared to use it and deal with the consequences.”

  • Fawkes

    @2eo: Except for the FBI’s own statistics which have proven time and time again that lawful gun ownership actually leads to less crime in general, but especially home invasion. But you’re right, we all deserve to be gay-bashed because of some rigid, idiotic ideology. You’ve got some nerve to talk about “facts.”

  • 1EqualityUSA

    Maybe if we walked about bandito-like, with our bullets proudly displayed in an “X” across our sternums, they’d back off. Shoot to kill if you are going to do this. Or…get yourself a cop/combat vet and be witty.

  • Ryan Alana Feral

    I’m a trans* woman and a former united states army special forces operator. I tend to eviscerate opponents with wit, but it’s nice to know I can do it with knives too.

    I carry a pistol in my purse.

Comments are closed.