Real-Life Superqueero Doesn’t Wear Mask When Stopping Gaybashers

Texas native Zimmer Barnes moved to Brooklyn at age 21 to help form the New York Initiative (NYI), a four-member crime-fighting team that includes his masked partners T.S.A.F (The Silent And Forgotten), Z, and Lucid. “Zimmer” (his nom de guerre) doesn’t wear a mask while doing good deeds because he doesn’t want to closet himself. In fact, he and his team will soon reveal themselves in HBO’s documentary Superheroes premiering August 8th at 9PM. The Dallas Voice caught up with Zimmer to ask him about his gay superheroics, how to handle anti-gay bullies in this “It Gets Better” age, and whether he’s got a boyfriend:

What sorts of things didn’t make it into the documentary and what else is NYI up to these days?

A lot of stuff ended up on the editing room floor. We do a lot of outreach to homeless organizations — there’s a tunnel people live underneath in the Bronx and we brought supplies to them, but that didn’t make it in. Because in New York it gets freezing during winter, we try to collect and hoard blankets and medical supplies throughout spring and fall and when it gets cold we try to hand out all that stuff. Today the NYI is undergoing several missions protecting the West Village from muggers and providing self-defense information and outreach to sex workers. We’ve got exciting stuff in the works but I can’t talk about it yet.

Are other LGBT people doing what you’re doing?

Yeah, there are. The earliest [superhero group] we know of was actually a gay and lesbian group in San Francisco, the Lavender Panthers. There was a lot of gay bashing going on, and [a gay Pentecostal Evangelist named] Rev. Ray Broshears was being harassed. The police didn’t do anything so they formed their own group and looked around for gay-bashings and handled it. It’s not something I would believe, it sounds like a comic book, but Time Magazine did an article on these guys in 1973. They were around before the Guardian Angels. As far as I know they were the original group.

And boyfriends?

I was dating during the course of making the documentary. We broke up and [my work as a ­superhero] was one of the reasons why. They were really worried about what I was doing and the more dangerous aspects.

You can read the entire interview at The Dallas Voice. But what we really wanna know is, does he know any of the other gay superheroes? Which bars and gyms do they hang out at?

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  • OneVoice


    DANIEL VILLARREAL is the worst writer ever!

  • xander

    See, Virginia, real gay superheroes DO exist, even if Santa doesn’t. It’s nice to hear about real people making a difference.

    @OneVoice: Change your name to OneComment because that’s all you say. Maybe if you explained what might make the article better, you’d not be such a Negative Nag. Who knows, Daniel may even take a decent suggestion if you have one.

  • PTBoat

    Wasn’t this an episode of Queer as Folk?

  • J.

    @PTBoat: I was JUST thinking that. Also, isn’t this illegal? As in, vigilantism is illegal, illegal?

  • JoePorn81

    Too bad he doesn’t wear a mask, that’d be really fucking hot! Like a little Robin mask. Mmmm.

  • Ambrose

    “They?” Does he have a problem with using male pronouns in speaking of his boyfriend? Or, was actually dating a girl? Curious.

  • Carrie

    I went to high school with this guy! About a year ago I ran into him by chance on the subway–he had an injured leg and said it was the result of a car accident or something. But maybe it was actually the result of superheroing?! Also I think we spent some time talking about comics and I mentioned that I wasn’t that into superhero comics. Imagine my retrospective embarrassment!

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