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House DJ Honey Dijon adds that if she was harassed as a black gay man in drag in the mid '90s, it's even worse now as a black woman. "I didn't get hit on until after I transitioned," she says. "I wish everyone understood what women go through. It's been an incredible education. I get more comments as a woman than I did before. Women are not threatening to men. Even if you are a drag queen, you're still a man."
It's doubly hard to square the frequency of gay bashings with the public perception that it's OK to be gay. "Just because we have gay TV shows and all that, these things are just a fantasy," Dijon says. "It's like two different realities. It's like The Matrix. There's the virtual reality and what's happening in the real world. And what's happening on the street is a reflection of what our larger government and religious institutions are doing. What's the difference between what the government did in Iraq and what they did to Kevin Aviance? One is sanctioned and the other is not?"
Publicist Len Evans, speaking on Aviance's behalf, echoes that sentiment: "He blames President Bush for all of this. He is trying to ban gay marriagewhat message is he putting out to us, that gay culture is not accepted? He's our leader, and he's telling us gay marriage can be banned?"
Gay-bashing numbers sometimes spike in the months leading up to and including Pride celebrationsJune, July, and August. Thus, Aviance's attack was not just brutal, but professionally devastating. "This period of time is when he makes the money for the year," says Aviance's lawyer, Jay Sanchez. "He can't make it because he can't perform." Like other self-employed artists, Aviance doesn't have health care to pay for the broken jaw that's been wired shut, or his fractured knee and neck. A fund has been set up through the Anti-Violence Projectsend donations to the attention of Joseph Turla, care of Anti-Violence Project, 240 West 35th Street, Suite 200, 10001.
In addition to Saturday's rally held at the site of Aviance's attack, there are also several benefits in Aviance's honor, including one at the Cock on Thursday, June 29, with fellow House of Aviance member Kim Aviance and Ari Goldperforming; and another co-benefiting FIERCE on Sunday, June 25, at the Knitting Factory. Aviance himself will make a single Pride appearancethough he will not performat Vasquez's party at Spirit that Sunday.
"I'm a human being," Honey Dijon says. "Everyone wants to be treated as a human being, and what happened to Kevin was inhumane."