Grassroots LGBT movement will partner with pre-existing gun control and LGBT groups to leverage community power against the gun lobby
On Sunday, June 26, at 36th Street and Fifth Avenue at noon, hundreds of LGBTQ New Yorkers and their allies will join the annual Pride March in a new group, Gays Against Guns (GAG), formed amid heartbreak and outrage less than a week after the tragic gun massacre of 49 LGBTQ clubgoers in Orlando, Florida, on June 12.
About 150 people showed up for GAG’s first organizational meeting at the LGBT Community Center on Friday, June 17, to organize the group’s presence at the March. In attendance was openly gay City Councilmember Corey Johnson, who invited GAG to join his March contingent.
“Gays Against Guns is taking this fight to the NRA’s front door,” said Johnson. “Our community has been fighting for gun control as part of other organizations for many years, now we’re starting our own. The LGBT community has vanquished bigger enemies than the NRA.”
Said Kevin Hertzog, who started the group with Brian Worth, “We know that several groups have been fighting gun violence in the U.S. for decades now. We’ll be meeting after Pride to hash out positions and a strategy approaching the November elections. But for now, we want to present as large a crowd as possible on Sunday, to show New York and the U.S. that LGBTQ people are outraged. The current situation with guns in America makes us gag in disgust!”
Said Worth, “An FBI analysis just showed that LGBT people are the likeliest target for hate crimes. Homophobia plus civilian access to assault weapons like the one used in Orlando equal a deadly combination for queer people. We’ll determine the most strategic role our community can play in this fight.”
GAG is assembling a diverse contingent of queer people and their allies.
“I spent years fighting for marriage equality to protect my family,” said Catherine Marino-Thomas, emeritus board president, Marriage Equality USA. “I’ll be marching Sunday once again to protect my family. This time, it’s hit us too close to home.”
GAG is planning visual features for its role in the March that will symbolize both bereavement for its queer siblings in Orlando and its fierce determination to bring its community’s unique history of street activism into the preexisting movement for tougher gun laws.