Yesterday, a rally was held in the West Village to honor Mark Carson who was murdered Friday evening as a result of a hate crime. While walking through the West Village with a friend, Carson was confronted by Elliot Morales. Morales made homophobic remarks such as, “Look at these faggots” and “What are you, gay wrestlers?” Despite trying to walk away and avoid an altercation, Morales followed the two men, pulled out his .38-caliber revolver and shot Carson. He died shortly after.
To show respect for Carson and denounce the recent hate crime against the queer community, thousands of LGBTQ folk and allies gathered in the West Village and marched from the steps of The Center to the site of the shooting. Chanting “We’re here, we’re queer!” and “Homophobia has got to go!” the voice of the queer community echoed down Greenwich Avenue and up through 6th Avenue. Speaker Christine Quinn, the first openly gay Speaker of the New York City Council, and Edie Windsor, the plaintiff of the Supreme Court same-sex marriage case, joined the march. After a slew of violent hate crimes within the past month, this march reestablished the visibility and, in turn, power of the queer community in New York City.
The West Village has been portrayed as a haven for queer folks. Home of the Stonewall Inn and the inception of the gay liberation movement, LGBTQ folk from across the country have come to the West Village either seeking refuge from hate crimes, in search of community, or to pay tribute to those who have fought to stop violence. Unfortunately, there has been a resurgence of hate crimes in the West Village. According to the Anti-Violence Project (AVP), six hate crimes against LGBTQ folk have been reported within the past week in New York City. The following are a list of three incidents reported by the New Yorker:
… a gay man and his partner were beaten up outside Madison Square Garden after a Knicks game, another gay man was attacked and beaten on Christopher Street, and a gay couple was beaten after leaving a pool hall on West Thirty-second Street.
With Pride month fast approaching, these weeks serve as a point of reflection to assess how much progress has actually been made in terms of LGBTQ rights and safety in our country. One of the signs held at yesterday’s protest read, “Marriage means nothing if we are being gunned down.” While much emphasis has been placed on the Federal Supreme Court ruling on the Marriage Equality Act, much more needs to be done to stop homophobic prejudice, discrimination, and violence in New York City and throughout the country.
While it might appear as if this rally has little to do with our work in housing and organizing, look again. As we’ve discussed before on the blog, discrimination in housing against LGBTQ folks is alive and well in our country and our city. Through organizing, we need to ensure that everyone who lives in our city feels secure enough in demanding that their rights be met- whether it’s housing conditions, marriage, or the right to walk down the street in safety. We at UHAB admire the powerful organizing that has taken place in response to the recent hate-crimes, and plan to support that organizing effort as long as it takes.
If you or someone you know has experienced a homophobic hate crime, please contact the Anti-Violence Project at (212) 714-1141.