Every year, millions of LGBTQ people and our allies attend events, rallies, and marches around the world commemorating the Stonewall Riots while celebrating our queer identities. Pride holds a lot of significance for LGBTQ people, in remembering both our history and present, as we continue the fight for equity and justice.
Yet despite some legislative wins and cultural shifts, there is still much to be done for the rights and well-being of LGBTQ people – especially in regards to curbing and ending anti-LGBTQ hate violence. In the last few months, the Anti-Violence Project has tracked numerous incidents across the country in which LGBTQ bars and nightclubs were targeted for hate violence.
- In February, a trans bar in Vegas was shot, injuring two individuals. The exterior window of the bar proudly showed the trans flag.
- In March, a man in Ohio was arrested for making death threats towards the LGBTQ community on a gay dating app. He threatened a user and other nightclub patrons.
- In March, a man in North Carolina was arrested for attempting to enter a gay nightclub with a handgun, Taser, and knife while yelling homophobic slurs.
- In March, a bisexual man was murdered outside of a gay bar in Texas after a driver intentionally hit him with his car.
- In April, a couple was attacked for holding hands during Miami Pride. The police initial response, which was inaction, furthered the violence.
- In April, two men were beaten outside of a gay bar in Washington D.C. Additionally, there have been three other hate violence related incidents in Washington D.C. since April.
- In June, a woman in upstate New York was arrested for making terroristic threats against pride.
- In June, Police in riot gear came to LA Pride after the festival was oversold. Multiple community members and celebrity talent at Pride reported seeing security guard and police violence against LGBTQ festival attendees.
As New York City began pride season this month, with pride celebrations in Queens and Brooklyn, there has been an uptick in violence locally as well.
During Queens Pride, 25 year-old elementary school teacher Brandon Soriano was physically attacked by a group of men as they yelled anti-gay slurs. Five days later, a transgender undocumented woman, who wishes to remain anonymous fearing deportation, was stabbed five times. These two incidents happened blocks from each other.
While preparing for Pride celebrations, it’s important to create a safety plan before attending the events or parties:
- If at all possible, don’t attend Pride events alone. Designate a Pride buddy that can act as an accountability partner and safety plan with them.
- Let someone who won’t be with you know your plans for the day/night. Let that person know who you’ll be with and if plans change. Brainstorm in advance ways people can contact and support you.
- Charge your electronics and bring chargers and/or extra battery packs.
- Write down phone numbers of friends or family on a piece of paper in case your cell phone dies.
- Be aware of your surroundings: Locate public spaces and 24-hour businesses to seek help if you feel unsafe.
- Always trust your instincts. If you feel threatened or unsafe, remove yourself from the situation as quickly as possible.
- Notify event organizers or nightclub staff if you face violence or harassment for immediate support.
- Use words to alert bystanders and get away if you can.
When gathering as a community for Pride celebrations, it’s important to be intentional in maintaining safety in the space together. Pride goers who witness violence can curb it by intervening, when it is safe to do so.
- Consider your power and privilege in a situation, and consider the ways in which you can be most effective in helping another. Many times the best way to intervene doesn’t require becoming physically involved.
- If you witness hate violence you can make your presence known by asking questions and talking to both the survivor and the perpetrator.
- Speak up, be LOUD, and call out what’s happening: identifying violence by name can help deter it.
- Distract and divert the attacker’s attention by making a scene, and being noisy to draw the attention of others.
- Record what’s happening by taking video on your phone.
- Ask what support the survivor needs and provide it if you can.
- If the violence is being perpetrated by the police you can record, observe, and verbally intervene, but physically intervening is illegal. Get the names, badge and car numbers of officers involved.
As always, AVP is here for you whether you’re a bystander or survivor: Save our hotline number (212-714-1141) into your phone and call us for safety planning help or support.