Photos from contributing Out Impact photographer Chiu K. Ng
Imagine being called a faggot while you and your boyfriend/girlfriend were just walking down the street in New York City. Imagine trying to have a typical morning with your significant other, and being viciously attacked for one reason and one reason only: you are gay. These anti-gay attacks are what sparked an anti-hate crime rally Thursday, May 16.
“This is how I go to work…I will not live in fear,” Miss Stonewall 2013 drag performer Frostie Flakes held up her poster in full drag.
“Take Back the Night” was hosted outside of Madison Square Garden, and its original intention was to have a nonviolent protest to the recent hate crime attacks happening right outside of Madison Square Garden.
“Faggot is a punch. Dyke is hitting someone,” Eugene Lovendusky, Queer Rising (Facebook, Twitter) co-founder, said. The first blow of gay hate crimes start with the
verbal assaults, then it can turn violent.
There is the common interpretation of New York City because it is thought of as one of the most dangerous cities in the world. Specifically, for members of the gay community, it’s becoming frightening to walk the streets at any time and in any place.
Some are not willing to be afraid, and peacefully protest against the crimes that have been happening.
According to John Fredrick, an activist not associated with Queer Rising, “these bias attacks are disheartening, and infuriating.”
These attacks are not just happening in New York City, but people wonder about how long these have been going on for.
With the rally close to many hearts, some of the audience members still understand why a peaceful protest is the best route to go: “It’s nice to know that people still care and that they are willing to do this,” Meaghan Alexander, a sophomore at Pace University said.
Even though there was so much love at this rally, a few people tried to disturb that peace and love. A guy stormed through behind the rally, screaming obscenities at the people protesting.
Though this rally provided more gay hate crime awareness, according to the New York Anti-Violence Project, there has been a 13% increase of violence. This is been the third year in a row that the increase has been present although the national rate is down.
“I am here to say that people respond to violence in their own special way. They can turn to the political sphere and work in the political system, or some people take self-defense classes, and fight back,” Lovendusky said.
Depending on the person being attacked, they have the option to fight back. One thing positive coming from these horrendous crimes was the amount of different people coming together. Not only did the LGBTQ community come out, but a lot of allies and supporters came from different ages and backgrounds.
The common theme throughout the whole rally was that “you are worth defending.” Raven Koch from the Center for Anti-Violence Education (Facebook) wanted to give the audience that instead of teaching them how to throw a punch.
The peaceful protest was held on the same night as a New York Knicks vs. Indiana Pacers NBA Playoffs game. A couple of the posters talked about Jason Collins, the NBA player that recently came out of the closet. Collins was mentioned in a few of the posters, and some of the speeches: “Would you hit Jason Collins for being gay?”
So, where did all this hatred come from? According to Fredrick, this hatred is promoted via people on the Internet, but he said, “We can do a better job, but we aren’t educating enough.”
In addition to speeches, information was also being distributed including safety tips, and information on why the rally was happening for those who weren’t aware of the recent attacks.
“It’s pretty ridiculous to me that in 2013 I have to stand here and fight for my right to be safe,” Flakes said. She refuses to be afraid taking the subway to work because she is just like everybody else.
Would informational peaceful anti-hate rallies like this influence positive change or will hate crimes continue?
“I think the government should pay more attention to it. It’d be nice if the government would follow through with attacks that should be called a hate crime,” Ashley Marrero, a 24 year old film student, said. To her, time will only tell if things will get better for her LGBTQ friends.
If you know someone who was attacked in any way and they can call the New York Anti-Violence Project (Facebook, Twitter) at (212)714-1141. It’s a 24-hour bilingual hotline and they serve New York’s Lesbian, Gay, BiSexual, Transgender, Queer and HIV-affected Communities.