Seattle has seen a recent spate of gay-bashings, and the usual "get a whistle, be careful, and don't resist" tripe is being spewed, with the local prosecutor hanging out "Hate Crime Awareness" posters.
It's more than a bit reminiscent of the bad old days. I arrived in the community fairly late in that game, back around '90 or '91, when gay ghetto was really in its ascendancy in Seattle. The clubs were hopping, little niche businesses were all over the Hill, and the air was charged with change and a wee bit of hope. And the closet, even then, was a lot more crowded than it is today. For all that, I miss the energy and spark of the era.
Bashings were a lot more frequent, and the communities most successful response was a modified version of Curtis Sliwa's Guardian Angels, the Q Patrol. The group disbanded some years ago. Pink Pistols never really took off as much as some of us had hoped in the liberal Seattle environment, but a determined core membership soldiers on.
Things have changed. Some say the ghetto is no longer necessary - that we no longer need the protection of numbers, or to separate ourselves out from the mainstream community to find happiness or security. Certainly the ghetto - be it Midtown in Atlanta, Capitol Hill in Seattle, Castro in SF, or other traditionally gay parts of town - is dispersing, and many of the small niche businesses are disappearing.
And of late, in Seattle, the bashings are on an upswing. And thus far no leader, whether within the gay community or in the broader community, has spoken of actual self-defense. Given where most of the pioneers of our community come from, veterans of the Vietnam Era, the notion of self-defense of anathema to the average big-government democrat...and sadly, those are the centrists of most LGBT communities.
For those who don't care to march in lockstep with the received wisdom of the community, preferring to think for themselves and reach their own conclusions, I offer a few thoughts and resources that diverge from the political lockstep we so frequently find in the LGBT and other minority communities.
Start out over at pinkpistols.org, and then take a thoughtful read over at LawDogs blog. I won't quote it to death, but doesn't that post sound awfully applicable to the LGBT community as well? I kind of question the notion that we're so special that happy thoughts and kind hearts will make all those who aren't enthralled with us turn spontaneously into kindly intended fluffy bunnies, particularly at that magic moment when they are about to whap one of us upside the head with 2x4 for giggles.
Many in the community would, at this point, whip out the old saws about "violence begets violence" and "violence never solved anything". Frankly, both are a crock, and Lawdog addresses them better than I can. But briefly, just as there is nothing inherently dishonorable or whacky about keeping a fire extinguisher in the house - there is nothing inherently wrong or whacky about keeping an effective means of self-defense about your person.
When you look at personal safety, four things come into focus - avoidance, strategy, tools, and the law.
In any situation where randomly bad things are happening, being someplace else far far away is an absolutely dandy strategy - whether you're talking about muggings, bashings, the occasional riot, house fires, or earthquakes. Always turn down such invitations, always.
Prevention is pretty straightforward. First off, it doesn't always work, no matter how much you'd prefer that it did. Secondly, taken to an extreme, prevention ends up with you hiding under a rock and raising unusual numbers of cats, poking a sharp stick at anything coming near. Still, carrying yourself with confidence and staying out of bad situations has a lot going for it, even if it's not a guarantee.
Failing prevention/avoidance, depending on your locale, there are plenty of other options legally available to you if you can shoehorn them into your ethical structure and your physical realities, each with their own pro's and con's.
If, as I have, you choose to include a firearm as part of your self-defense strategy - know the law, get training (at least as much, and preferably more than your jurisdiction requires), and practice. Surprising as it might be, not every gun fits every hand equally - not unlike a golf club or a tennis racket, different firearms fit different folks differently.
If you can, before buying go with an experienced friend and meander through the rental counter of your local range - my hands like the .45 Glock or the Para-ordnance P14 .45 - but, much as I enjoy shooting them or my S&W M25 .45LC, I don't carry any of the above. The balance of cost, concealability, and ergonomics has led me to the Bersa Storm .45 and the Keltec P3AT in .380 for the moment and, if I had to choose just one of them, I'd probably go with the Keltec on grounds of versatility - it's easier to tuck away discretely about ones person.
Different folks will come to different conclusions - if I lived in an unquestioned open carry state, I might go with a Para or Colt; as it is, I've made compromises to fit local conditions. Your conditions and mileage may vary.
But to return to gay bashing - it is my considered opinion that gay bashings will become less frequent in direct ratio to the level of perceived risk to the attackers....we are not, after all, talking about natures courageous little heroes after all.