After holding a vigil Sunday in Washington Square Park last night to commemorate the rash of (known) gay teen suicides caused by bullying, New York’s gay community has been in for a harsh week. Two attacks have occurred against gays in a neighborhood thought to be “safe” by some for LGBT people, one occurring actually inside the bathroom of the Stonewall Inn.
The first attack was against Benjamin Carver, who was visiting New York from D.C. with his boyfriend. According to his blog, Carver was attacked by two men in the Stonewall’s tiny bathroom. While peeing at a urinal, Carver writes, one of the men said ” ‘Don’t pee next to me, Faggot.’ ”
They blocked the door and beat him up until he was able fight them off and escape. Once he got back into the bar, others intervened while the attackers slipped out (and were later apprehended). “It should be noted that the staff of the Stonewall are some bad ass, take no shit hombres. My kind of queers. I would very much like to buy them a drink,” Carver writes.
In a separate incident, according to the Daily News, 20-year-old Andrew Jackson of Staten Island is accused of leading a pack of males to beat up three gay men on 9th Avenue and 25th Street in Chelsea. Jackson, writes the News, allegedly yelled “”Go home [faggots], this is our neighborhood,” before breaking one man’s nose and cutting another’s head.
Both incidents have left the LGBT community feeling particularly vulnerable considering where they took place. But Sharon Stapel, the Executive Director of the Anti-Violence Project, says that while she is “outraged” and it “pisses me off” that the attacks occurred within the gayborhood, she is not surprised. “Unfortunately, it doesn’t shock me,” says Stapel. “This kind of violence does occur within what we would consider otherwise LGBT friendly spaces.”
There’s not an uptick in LGBT violence right now, says Stapel, but in media attention. AVP has found that violence against LGBT people has increased every year since they’ve been tracking it.
Civil rights attorney Yetta Kurland, a long time activist in the gay community, is also saddened, but not shocked, but the spate of sad news. “Having reports of LGBT teen suicides — is really very chilling,” she says. “When you hear of one suicide it is saddening, but with so many at once it’s upsetting and really angering that our community is really unsupported and mistreated, and that we can feel so hopeless. To hear that there’s violence in our facilities — especially the Stonewall, with its legacy, is frightening. We really need to address this violence and work to protect our community.”
To that end, there will be a community meeting tonight at the Stonewall Inn at 7:30 PM, and another one tomorrow on 25th Street and 9th Avenue at 6:00 PM.