Political Climate Sparks Anti-Gay Vandalism
Last week someone smashed the glass entrance of Diverse & Resilient’s office building on Holton Street. Were it another time, one might shrug it off as random vandalism. But nowadays we know better. In these dark times of politically empowered bigotry, D&R has the misfortune of serving two targets of hate, people of color and LGBTs. On the bright side, individuals, United Way and Waukesha County paid for the repairs.
Since the election, hundreds (probably thousands, given the unreported ones) of such acts have been committed nationwide in the name of the president-elect. There was even an attack on gays in Sydney, Australia, by a man invoking his name.
There’s a history of gay-bashings in town. Often in the vicinity of the bars, they’re barely publicized. It’s bad for business, after all. The Gay Arts Center was twice vandalized in the weeks prior to the 2010 gubernatorial election. Posters in the foyer were burned and a rock thrown against its façade broke one of the Center’s plate glass windows. The perpetrators got away but I kept the rock. The community mustered a muted “There, there.”
In moments like these, we often offer our hollow perfunctory prayers, usually on social media. It’s the thought that counts, I guess. I believe in the higher virtues of man but, sadly, we’re more likely motivated by our lower instincts. We’re used to looking the other way.
So when attacked or intimidated, what are we supposed to do? Self-defense awareness is nothing new. But the recent spike in overtly expressed hate has spawned an ominous response. Actor Tyson Bedford is offering free LGBT firearm self-defense courses (hash tag #shootback). Then, there’s Pink Pistols, an armed LGBT group. Its insignia sports a top-down silhouette of a man in firing stance neatly superimposed on a pink triangle. They use clever mottos like “Bash me and you’re dead,” “Guns are for Fags” or “Gay & Straight Shooters.” The latter smartly leaves some room for double-entendre. So much for killing them with kindness… And, there’s that Baraboo gun shop that refinishes guns in pink if you really want to make a statement. Were I so inclined, I’d carry a more dignified black Beretta 418 with silver monogrammed ebony grips.
The Log Cabin Republicans have long celebrated the Second Amendment for gays. They play on the fear that once kept us in the closet. Now, having achieved marriage rights, we’re above fearing all people. So, the LCR pushes carry rights for fear of those people, namely blacks and immigrants (except the ones they’re dating, of course). One local millennial on social media rationalized his vote against Hillary Clinton saying she’d allow Muslim refugees in to kill gay people. He’s probably skittish around falafel, too. The real irony is the armed protection the LCR insists on is now necessary against the violent threats of their fellow Republicans.
Meanwhile, Kenosha County Democrats held a Post-Election Reflection to organize a more sober and safer strategy of resistance through non-violent political action. Those engaged young activists may form a vanguard in defense of LGBT and other endangered civil rights. At least it’s happening in Kenosha.