Sunday, November 27, 2011

Gay Bashing: Far from Over

Things are better.

I remember when, as I was first coming out or not long after, Q Patrol (a LGBT-oriented "Guardian Angels" type group was founded in Seattle). And when it faded into history.

Things are better.

I remember reading of the common place violence, institutional and individual (and the widespread systematic and personalized discrimination and harassment) my predecessors in the LGBT community suffered to a far greater degree than I or any of my successors (who have had it yet better than I) have had to tolerate.

Things are better.

I am blessed with history to instruct me. Courtesy of those gone before, I am allowed to remember by proxy the burgeoning LGBT culture and openness of pre-Nazi Germany. I am allowed to understand that every shred of progress we have made stands on a foundation made of sand and hope, and every victory for freedom and individuality is potentially transitory - subject to the winds of economics, social whimsy, and fear. The battle never ends.

Things are better.

I am, unless I wish to distance myself from reality far more thoroughly than either Neville Chamberlain or Nancy Pelosi, forced to admit that things are far from perfect. That gay bashing still takes place, and that crosses still burn. And that cops, regardless of any special nobility or unique lack thereof, are merely human - that barring miraculous events, they get to show up with a mop, a notebook, and investigative tools...but can't make murder or assault somehow "un-happen"; that even hopes of prevention are wildly optimistic.

We are each responsible for making the choices necessary to guard our own safety, based on our own personal ethos, priorities, and in accordance with local legal conditions. Once we've made those choices, we need to take responsibility for them and at least admit them to ourselves - and allow others to make their own, similar, choices.

My own fundamental guide in such matters is the notion that it is, under any normal circumstances, morally wrong to initiate the aggressive use of force against another person. That it is sufficiently wrong as to justify the application of the defensive use of force up to and including lethal force. Others mileage may vary. I also observe that very few principals stand in isolation.

I could wish that more members of the LGBT community seriously re-examine the prevalent views regarding self-defense and the tools thereof in the community. Being vulnerable hasn't, in my opinion, proven a really winning strategy for us - and it seems unreasonable to assume demanding others become vulnerable to the little inequalities of nature and numbers will improve the safety of either thus or those we would strip of extant civil rights.

Yet, things are better.

I write this after local hair dresser and pillar of the local Filipino community Danny Vega has died, subsequent to being beaten into a coma by three young assailants yet to be apprehended.

Most believe that Vega, as a visibly identifiable gay man, was assaulted in the course of a hate crime - a gay bashing. One that, now, includes his murder - his death from injuries his assailants inflicted.

Things are better. But they still sometimes suck. And this is certainly one of those times. Much remains to be done.

My condolences to the family and Mr. Vega's friends and admirers.

To the rest of the community? As individuals, examine how you think about your safety. Look at how well your assumptions stand up to reality. And consider learning some form of self-defense - something that will let you have a fighting chance versus 3:1 odds...even if you're 5'2", or with medically fouled-up body strength, or with asthma such that "run away, run away" isn't a valid option.

Not only does each LGBT person that becomes a "hard" or "dangerous" target (i.e., bad things are fairly likely to immediately and violently happen to those that attempt assault upon them) have a better chance of going home with roughly the same number of pieces they showed up with in the event of proposed mischief - but each time an assault on an LGBT person fails, disastrously, for the assailant(s) it works to shatter the meme that we are a populace safe to assault.

When, after all, was the last time you heard of a bunch of bigots gathering together to beat the crud out of a Blood, a Crip, a Hells Angel, or a uniformed cop? Bigotry rests on a foundation of cowardice, and is seldom eager to tangle with targets that - at a physical and effective level - fight back, and fight back in ways that may exact a terrible price from the assailant.

Things are better. We need to work to make them better yet.


Old NFO said...

That last sentence, "Bigotry rests on a foundation of cowardice, and is seldom eager to tangle with targets that - at a physical and effective level - fight back, and fight back in ways that may exact a terrible price from the assailant."

Is the true money quote GC, and until ALL of us stand up to bigotry, in all forms, things will not really be 'better'

john said...

To me, the critical point is in your statement that progress rests on "sand and hope" and is "potentially transitory". IT IS TRUE. I like to cite P.J. O'Rourke (I think) "Ignorance is a renewable resource." A new crop comes up every year. If you believe there is such a thing as a sacred duty, then teaching, when a "teachable moment" comes along, is your sacred duty. end of sermon. By the way, I think you do it better than most. This is one of the blogs I've been glad to find

AM said...

I'm glad things are better.

On a personal note, I'd much rather more of the LGBT community starts packing a pistol. You can't end the bigots, but you can end the easy targets.

Gay_Cynic said...

And by ending the easy targets (or, utilizing the Q-Ship strategy, a reasonable percentage of them), end a fair amount of the nasty sort of bigotry that violates the "no touchie" rule.

I'm *all for* more pistols in LGBT hands..and it's happening more and more. But it's a very slow change of paradigm, dammit.