Now that an alliance is emerging between the Gun Violence Prevention (GVP) community and LGBTQ, I think my friends who advocate for stronger gun regulations need to whether the regulations they support will really meet the needs, expectations and goals of both groups. Because the good news is that this alliance merges the talents, energies and experiences of LGBTQ and GVP, but the issues faced by my gay gender friends were and are different than the agenda currently on the plates my friends who advocate for more regulations of guns.
The fact is that LGBTQ folks faced not only de-facto discrimination in past years, but in many cases had to confront legal discrimination as well. Want to marry someone of the same gender? It couldn’t be done. Want to give a same-sex partner legal claim to your property or your estate? It couldn’t be done. Want to bring a child into a household comprised of two gay women or men? Couldn’t be done.
So we aren’t talking here about the terrible inconvenience of driving to the local gun shop in order to complete a private sale or transfer of Uncle Ted’s old shotgun; we aren’t forcing anyone to sit through a couple of hours of tedious lectures in order to qualify to walk around town with a gun; we aren’t even saying that the Glock in someone’s pocket can only hold 10 rounds. The NRA prides itself on being America’s ‘oldest’ civil rights organization, but their concern for civil rights and equality never addressed the inequality that dogged life-styles of men and women who happen to be gay.
In fact, there happens to be a gay, gun-rights organization out there called the Pink Pistols, which claims to have 45 chapters nationwide with more ‘starting up’ every day. The Pittsburgh group has 39 members, the New York City group claims 223, in Dallas there are 106 folks who have signed on; actually these are all folks who have joined Pink Pistol groups on Facebook – who knows how many of them actually own guns? Of course the national organization felt compelled to issue a statement after Orlando and of course felt equally compelled to use the Orlando tragedy to promote the ‘armed citizen’ nonsense that has become the basic talking-point of the NRA. But I’ll give these folks some credit for coming up with a new twist on the stupidity and recklessness of armed, personal defense, namely that in localities that prohibit mixing guns and alcohol, exceptions should be made for ‘designated’ concealed carriers of guns. Okay, now let’s get back to reality.
And the reality is this: On August 13 there is going to be a big rally in Washington, DC that will cement the alliance between Gun Violence Prevention and LGBT. It’s being billed as an event to promote LGBTQ Equal Rights and Realistic Gun Law Reform and there are already 25 national gay-rights and GVP organizations signed up in support. One of the gay groups, Gays Against Guns, formed directly after the Orlando massacre and marched in New York’s Pride parade. Move over Pink Pistols, your concerns about gun rights just won’t fly.
The August 13 event is the brainchild and handiwork of a gay activist, Jason Hayes, who bills himself as a ‘celebrity hairstylist’ and lives in New Jersey but he’s a lot more than that. Jason has brilliantly tapped into a wellspring of emotion and LGBTQ desire to promote yet another fundamental change. And the LGBTQ community knows something about change.
But I want to what I said up top, namely, that LGBTQ folks come to this struggle with a very clear understanding of what inequality means, whereas on the GVP side the issue of ‘rights’ is what we always hear from Gun-nut Nation, rather than the other way around. So we need a meeting of the minds before August 13th and we also need as many minds as possible to meet on what will be an historic day.