Queens LGBT community speaks about fighting anti-gay crime

A string of hate crimes toward openly gay people throughout the city have left members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) community disturbed and looking for answers.

“We had hoped that it had quieted down,” said Anne Quashen, president of the Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) Queens Chapter. “It seems that the snake has raised its ugly head again.”

On May 18, Mark Carson was fatally shot by a man who let out anti-gay remarks toward Carson and his friend as they walked in Greenwich Village in Manhattan. Just a week later, a gay couple was verbally attacked and punched by two men as they walked in SoHo.

“We need a lot more discussions in the schools about why it’s wrong to attack people for any reason, especially if they are part of the LGBT community,” said openly gay Councilmember Daniel Dromm.

Both Quashen and Dromm believe it is important to educate children at an early age and also inform the community on why such crimes are not acceptable.

“People that are in the LGBT community are all part of the same big family,” said Quashen. “They are part of the same community and we have to take care of one another.”

In response to the series of hate crimes, Council Speaker Christine Quinn and the City Council’s LGBT Caucus announced they will be hosting free self-defense training across the city.
“These classes will empower men and women who might otherwise feel helpless at times when our city is experiencing an increase in attacks against our LGBT brothers and sisters,” said Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer. “No one should be persecuted or attacked for who they are or who they are perceived to be.

The first class, led by the Center for Anti-Violence Prevention, will take place on June 8 at the LGBT Center in Manhattan. Additional classes in Queens will be announced in the upcoming weeks. To reserve a space, you can call 212-788-5613 or email events@council.ny.gov.