Mark Segal

Is This the Beginning of an LGBT Backlash?

Filed By Mark Segal | May 29, 2013 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: The Movement
Tags: hate crimes against LGBT people, New York, Stonewall, tipping point, violence

no_to_hate.jpegThere's a word we all need to know: backlash.

Recently, we have seen an uptick in anti-gay hate crimes, and you may have noticed a pattern: they seem to be coming from places where there's been success in nondiscrimination and marriage equality. For example, there have been at least three recent occurrences in New York City. The first was just blocks away from the iconic Stonewall Inn, the second in the East Village, and then a third in the Bronx.

This could be a pattern, could be just a series of isolated but similar copycat incidents, or they might be the start of a backlash.

For the most part, the struggle for LGBT equality has been a peaceful one. There are, of course, the images of Matthew Shepard and Harvey Milk, and one cannot underestimate the suffering of our endangered youth who have been bullied, in some cases to death. But all of them were isolated to their region.

A backlash happens when those who most oppose your rights begin to realize that you've won, and then strike back with anger. That anger is usually in the form of violence. New York had a highly competitive fight for marriage equality, and following its victory in 2011 came many more successful fights across the country. Those haters who cannot come to terms with this sea change sometimes act out.

We need to be prepared for such actions, and like most issues, that preparation can come by looking at your history. And this coming month provides a perfect example of our history.

The first gay pride march in 1970 in New York City was called the Christopher Street Day Liberation March. In 1970, we didn't know how many would show up or how we would be treated as we marched out of the village all the way to Central Park. In order to safeguard our community, those of us who were marshals were to take martial arts and self-defense courses at Alternate U.

That first march changed the world. It gave us gay pride and we who were marshals were the most surprised, since we never expected that thousands would show up to march with us. And although we were prepared, there was no violence. Haters just stood on the sidelines thinking, These people will get nowhere.

Well, we have, and it's time to take a cue from our history and begin to safeguard our community with basic self defense.

Creating community means providing what the community needs, and that includes safeguarding ourselves.

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