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“We Will Not Be Threatened”

Eloisa Burgos May 23, 2013

More than 40 years ago, the Stonewall Rebellion in Greenwich Village–an uprising in response to police harassment and intimidation–sparked the movement for gay rights, with thousands of people taking to the street.

May 20 seemed like a flashback of those same events, as some 2,000 people filled New York's streets in disgust against the murder of a gay man.

"We're here today not only to mourn the loss of a member of our community," said Glennda Testone, executive director of the LGBT Community Center, which planned the rally, "but we are together today as one to say we will not be threatened."

Testone added that not even the Greenwich Village community is exempt from anti-LGBT violence. Unfortunately, she's right. Mark Carson, a 32-year-old African American gay man, was shot in the cheek just blocks from the Stonewall Inn. Gawker reported:

Police say that the victim, Mark Carson, was walking with a friend down Sixth Avenue around midnight, when three Hispanic men began harassing him with anti-gay remarks. One or two of those three men then evidently recrossed paths with Carson a short while later, gunning Carson down at point-blank range outside of Gray's Papaya at West 8th Street and Sixth Avenue.

Today, there's a memorial to Carson, with pictures, signs showing solidarity and dozens of candles on the corner of West Eighth Street and Sixth Avenue. The killing of Carson is the fourth attack against gay men in the past two weeks.

Nick Porto, a recent victim of gay bashing, said that these hate crimes need to stop. "Gay rights are a lot more than just marriage," he told he crowd. "We need to live long enough to share in this community."

Porto and his partner Kevin Atkins were attacked in Madison Square Garden. According to reports, the couple was knocked to the ground and beaten by a crowd of New York Knicks fans shouting homophobic slurs.

This attack happened in broad daylight. Some commentators argue that that the rise in anti-gay attacks are one result of the anti-LGBT rhetoric being used by the Religious Right to whip up opposition to the growing success of the demand for same-sex marriage. The Huffington Post's Michelangelo Signorile wrote:

For years, those who are anti-gay have been emboldened by the often hateful declarations of homophobic religious leaders and by the attacks by groups like the National Organization for Marriage, which have demeaned gays. After decades of struggle, we're finally beating them back in the courts, in legislatures and even at the ballot box. And perhaps the frustration and anger by those who oppose us is now further empowering the thugs who take their hate and rage to the streets.

Other organizations in attendance at the rally were LGBT Safe Leaders of African Descent, Harlem Pride, New York City Anti-Violence Project (AVP), Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, Bronx LGBTQ Center, GLAAD, Make the Road NY, the Transgender Legal Defense, Harlem Mothers S.A.V.E. among others.

Some representatives of mayoral candidates were also present, and as this list was called out, a man in the crowd loudly yelled, "Where's Bloomberg?" and many others began echoing his question.

The crowd was very diverse, with members of all political, ethnic and religious backgrounds. Pastor Joseph Tolton spoke at the event about the need to fight together despite these differences.

"We must come together, we must educate, we must humanize one another," Tolton said, "We, the LGBT community, is not a community that will allow to be teased, booing, or are going to be the object of your anger."

In the end, what remains here is a family who is asking that Carson's death not be in vain. A friend of Carson's, Nigel Joseph, told us that the victim was never afraid of gay bashing.

"He always stood up for himself, he was always Mark Carson–from the time he woke up to the time he went to sleep, he was always himself," said Joseph. "[He] never talked bad about anybody, just a sweet soul…It's sad that he's gone."

This article originally appeared on SocialistWorker.org.

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