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Gays Against Guns: It’s time to ‘come out’ against gun violence

Gays Against Guns: It’s time to ‘come out’ against gun violence

Gays Against Guns rally in New York

When I heard about the shooting at Pulse, I cried.

Instead of sitting on the sofa in my apartment and crying alone, I went to Stonewall and cried with my LGBTI family.

Someone brought weapons of war into a gay nightclub and callously mowed down 49 people. I could not reconcile this fact with my understanding of what life in a ‘civilized’ country should look like. I still can’t reconcile those two very different realities.

Gays Against Guns (GaG) was formed by other people who were as horrified as I was (and am). We didn’t want to just change our Facebook profile pictures and then, in a week or two, go back to our regular lives. We couldn’t allow their lives to have been lost in vain so we needed to act.

Gays Against Guns
Gays Against Guns

Our community knows what to do in a crisis. We lost an entire generation to a silent assassin who went on a 25-year killing spree, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with endless ammunition and the aim of an expert marksman. HIV hit the target almost every single time. But we learned how to act up and fight back.

From the first GaG meeting, veterans of ACT UP stepped in and took the reigns. ‘In ACT UP, we would…’ was a near-constant refrain, but it was a welcome one. We took page after page from their playbook.

We did ‘die-ins’, we spread fake blood on the ground and we screamed ‘shame shame shame’ outside the offices of politicians who’ve taken money from the NRA, or inside the lobbies of buildings that belong to companies who’ve profited from gun manufacturers. And then we followed the money to see who benefits from mass shootings (spoiler alert : gun manufacturers).

We called, texted, emailed, direct messaged, hashtagged and commented everywhere, until our thumbs were bleeding.

Las Vegas shooting: ‘It’s so sad that this is what it takes in order to get attention paid to this important topic’

Now there’s yet another, even worse mass shooting in modern American history.

You can add ‘outdoor concerts’ to the already too-long list of places we will now no longer feel safe in. Nightclubs, churches, elementary schools, movie theaters, workplaces, malls – so many places that it’s harder to think of a place that has not been the setting of a bloodbath.

The mere scope of it can seem overwhelming and it’s tempting to just throw your hands up and say: ‘Oh well – it’s just normal now. Nothing we do will even make a difference.’

Do not say that. Do not even allow yourself to think that.

Gays Against Guns
Gays Against Guns

A clever opponent will try to wear you down until you give up, and the NRA is one of the most formidable opponents there are. The only solution is to put yourself in the position of one of the people who was killed at Pulse or Las Vegas and ask yourself what they would have wanted you to do.

Would they want you to give up or become apathetic? Would they want you to just change your profile picture, and then go back to your regular life? Or would they want you to do whatever you could to make sure that this doesn’t happen to someone else?

This is what you can do to help

There are a number of ways you can become involved in the gun violence prevention movement.

The most effective thing you can do is vote for someone who hasn’t taken money from the NRA. Aaron William’s piece in The Washington Post called Have your representatives in Congress received donations from the NRA? will help you with that. You can also join one of the many, many excellent GVP (gun violence prevention) groups out there (Guns Down, Everytown for Gun Safety, Moms Demand Action).

Also, you can join Gays Against Guns and come to one of our meetings. You can sign up to be on our mailing list and join us at a direct action. Or you can just call your elected officials and demand that they listen to the will of the people and start doing our bidding instead of doing the bidding of lobbyists who work for the NRA and the gun industry.

Kevin Hertzog at Gays Against Guns rally
Kevin Hertzog at Gays Against Guns rally Facebook

But there’s another way you can change things. You can ‘come out’ as a gun violence prevention advocate.

We’re experts at coming out, so why not apply that expertise to this issue as well? Many scholars of gay history cite the coming out movement as a decisive turning point in the struggle for gay rights.

Guns are life or death and silence equals death. So don’t be silent. Be loud and be proud and tell everyone you know that we want better gun laws.

We want a reinstatement of the assault weapons ban, we want universal background checks and we want fewer guns in fewer hands. Why? Because we know what it looks like to lose our brothers and sisters to senseless gun violence.

We don’t want that to happen ever again.