Whose streets? Our streets — in NYC & everywhere

By Janice Thom, Task Force director of operations

Walking the streets, being out and about anywhere shouldn’t mean taking our lives in our hands. Walking around being as dykey, as faggy, as big a fairy, as butch a bull-dagger, in drag, holding someone’s hand… that’s our right. It’s our right to be everything we are — out loud — without fear.

Janice Thom speaking at

Janice Thom speaking at the rally against anti-LGBT hate violence in New York City on May 20, 2013.

Here in New York we’ve had several gay bashings in the last few weeks. The most recent went beyond a bashing. Mark Carson was murdered in Greenwich Village last Friday night simply because someone perceived him to be gay. Mark was in fact a proud, out gay man but the man who took his life didn’t know that, he just decided Mark was gay and therefore deserved to die.

Last night, thousands of queer people and our allies marched through the streets of the Village to make it clear that this is our city, these are our streets and we won’t be pushed back in the closet. When I spoke on behalf of the Task Force at the end of the march I told the crowd on 8th Street that I believe this rash of hate-fueled violence is because we’re winning.

We can just about taste equality. And the haters, the murderers who took Mark Carson’s life and who’ve bashed, intimidated and murdered our people here in New York, last week in Russia, maybe next week in Minneapolis, . . they believe that if we win, they’ll lose. They are so deluded and so fearful that they actually believe there’s only so much justice and joy to go around. If we begin to get what we’ve deserved forever, their lives will be less. They’re wrong. But they’re going to take it out on our bodies.

Twenty-some years ago, my girlfriend and I were chased into a store not half-a-block from where we rallied last night by some idiot who took exception to our public display of affection. And now it no longer seems like it’s been 20 years. Now? Now it was only yesterday. So — in Mark’s name, in the names of the countless members of our community, especially in the names of those who don’t make the news because they’re not white, they’re transgender, they’re poor, their family threw them out and they’re homeless, they’re sex workers — it’s so clearly time for us to take our queer bodies to the streets. Never, ever forget how special — how spectacular we all are. We’ll survive and we’ll thrive. And the haters? They’ll be part of the history of the losing side.