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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 31, 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 22
Is an anti-LGBT backlash coming? - It could be, and we need to prepare ourselves
Section One
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Is an anti-LGBT backlash coming? - It could be, and we need to prepare ourselves

by Mark Segal - Philadelphia Gay News

There's a word you need to know: Backlash.

Recently, we have seen an uptick in anti-Gay hate crimes, but you might notice a pattern. They seem to be coming from places where there is success in nondiscrimination and marriage equality - namely, this week in New York City, with what looks like three occurrences. The first was just blocks away from the iconic Stonewall Inn, another was in the East Village, and yet another was in the Bronx.

This could be just a series of copycat incidents - isolated but similar - or it could be the start of a backlash. For the most part, the struggle for LGBT equality has been a peaceful one. There are, of course, the images of Matthew Shepard and Harvey Milk, and one cannot underestimate the suffering of our endangered youth who have been bullied, in some cases to death. But all of them were isolated to their region.

LEARNING FROM HISTORY
A backlash happens when those who most oppose your rights begin to realize that you're winning, and then strike back with anger. That anger is often in the form of violence. New York had a highly competitive fight for marriage equality, and following its victory were many more around the country. The haters, who cannot come to terms with this sea change, sometimes act out.

We need to be prepared for such actions, and like most issues preparation can come by looking at your history. And this coming month is a perfect example of our history.

The first Gay Pride march in 1970 in New York City was called the Christopher Street Liberation Day March. In 1970, we didn't know how many would show up or how we would be treated as we marched out of the Village all the way to Central Park. To safeguard our community, those of us who were marshals took martial-arts and self-defense courses at Alternate U.

DON'T GET COMPLACENT
That first march changed the world. It gave us Gay Pride and we who were marshals were the most surprised, since we never expected that thousands would show up to march with us. And although we were prepared, there were no violent issues. Haters just stood on the sidelines thinking, 'These people will get nowhere.'

Well, we have gotten somewhere, and it's time to take a cue from our history and begin to safeguard our community with basic self-defense.

Creating community means providing what the community needs, and that includes safeguarding ourselves.

Mark Segal, PGN publisher, is the nation's most-award-winning commentator in LGBT media. He can be reached at mark@epgn.com.

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