Op-Ed: Should The Black LGBT Community Arm Themselves Against Violent Racists and Homophobes?

Submitted by Take Out on Sun, 02/03/2019 - 15:32

With this week's homophopic and racist attack against Jussie Smollett there is a renewed call for the lgbt community, specifically people of color to arm themselves against attacks.

Using the FBI’s own statistics: the number of hate crimes motivated by sexual orientation is second only to those motivated by racial hatred. “Because LGBT individuals cannot count on the police to protect them from such violence,” Pink Pistols an LGBT guns right group wrote in their brief after the Pulse Massacre, “their safety depends upon this Court’s recognition of their right to possess firearms for self-protection in the home.”

Jonathan Rauch, a prominent gay journalist, wrote a column called “Pink Pistols,” from which the  organization takes its name. Rauch called on gays to band together in “Pink Pistols task forces, sponsor shooting courses and help homosexuals get licensed to carry. And they should do it in a way that gets as much publicity as possible.” The point, Rauch wrote, was to change the image of gays, both in the heterosexual and homosexual universes. “Since time immemorial, weakness has been a defining stereotype of homosexuality,” Rauch wrote. “Think of the words you heard on the school playground: ‘limp-wrist,’ ‘pansy,’ ‘panty-waist,’ ‘fairy.’ No other minority has been so consistently identified with contemptible weakness.”

But if gays carried concealed weapons, he argued, and homophobes didn’t know which gays did and which didn’t, it would drive down attacks on gays, and it would change their self-image from one of weakness to one of empowerment. “If it became widely known that homosexuals carry guns and know how to use them, not many bullets would need to be fired,” Rauch wrote. “So let's make gay-bashing dangerous.”

This notion can be traced back to the Black Panter movement using weapons, explicitly or implicitly, to back up a peaceful demand for civil rights. The movement for black civil rights, for instance, was not uniformly nonviolent: Martin Luther King, Jr. is said to have kept a pistol for protection. "The tradition of armed-self defense in Afro-American history cannot be disconnected from the success of what today is called the nonviolent civil rights movement," writes historian Charles E. Cobb, Jr. in his book This Nonviolent Stuff'll Get You Killed.

When was Jussie was attacked many around the country saw it as an anomoly but there has always been a threat of violence against minorities in this country and being black and gay, lesbian, bi or trans only hightens that threat. Over the last few years violence against trans women of color has gone up significantly.  Even as society becomes more accepting the risk still remains. 

But will arming the LGBT masses stop the violence and lessen the risk?

Pink Pisols founder Gwendolyn Patton said in a recent interview with Politico “Arming LBGTQ people is more than just guns, it is a mindset shift from being docile victims to being self-empowered defenders. While we can’t eliminate all attacks, being able to defend ourselves will discourage threats. The goal is to protect LGBT individuals “using the best tool available If a law in a particular area doesn’t allow firearm, go with next best available tool.” Pepper spray, a knife, or running away and calling the police. “The desired goal isn’t to have incidents, it’s to prevent incidents,” she explains. “If we have no events, then, as far as we’re concerned, that’s ideal.”

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