I’m Blake. I’m from Madison, Connecticut, but I live in New York City. And I had read about people being assaulted for being gay, I think we’ve all been called names before, but it really hit me for the first time when me and a couple friends were walking down 9th Ave in Hells Kitchen which is a very gay neighborhood, and a guy started calling us names and ending up pushing a friend, slapping me in the face, pushing another one into a parked car. It was ridiculous at the time, I was like, this doesn’t happen in this neighborhood. But it did. And then the police didn’t really do anything about it. We called them and then they showed up.
So it turned into a story and it spread like wild fire around Facebook and around blogs and we did interviews with TV stations here in New York and the police called us right back after that and started investigating it, as they should have in the first place. It was a lesson in…you have to talk about it. Whether it’s talking about whether it happened so you can tell people that issues like this still exist, or talking about that it happened to make the response to happen that needs to happen. Whether it was the investigation or so that the police don’t neglect stuff like that in the future. But nothing would have come of it if we hadn’t talked about it.
There was a kid who read about it, I guess on Facebook, in California and he sent me a message and he said, “Listen, I’ve never come out to anyone before. It took me a lot of courage to send you this email. I’ve never dated a guy, I’ve never slept with a guy, I know I’m gay but I haven’t come to terms with it myself. And the reason I wanted to tell you, even though I don’t even know you, is because you stood up for it and you’re proud of who you are and you guys are advocates. And you made me realize it’s okay. And that I could be happy to be this person that I’m figuring out.
He sent me a message a couple weeks later. It was amazing, he said, “You’d be so proud of me. I told my sister and she was totally fine with it just like you said she’d be, and I came out to her roommate who’s gay it turns out.” And he’s now in the process of coming out to his mom. And I didn’t really do anything except be me. So it’s pretty amazing the power that you have just by putting ourselves out there and letting people — random people on Facebook or people in our family — know that, hey, this stuff affects me. So it affects you, too.
I’m From Montreal, QC, Canada. “You guys look like faggots,” I heard someone say in the general direction of where I was standing with a friend. Not a standard greeting, to say the least. This comment confused me. Surely it must be a joke – a bad joke. But I’m not in danger. After all, this is Montreal, a progressive city where I feel safe and confident that people aren’t attacked based on their sexual orientation.”
I’m From Utah. “We were walking to the car, Mikey and Mark in locked arms to back and shoulders, and a truck drives by and screams “Fags!” Since they didn’t stop or anything, we let it roll off our backs because we had a good night aside from that. Whatever, you know. Just as we were getting to the car, we noticed that the truck drives back around and they stop behind the car. At this point Robert and I were already in the car. Mark and Mikey were about to get in, but then Mark stops to watch what they were doing. The first guy jumps out and heads toward Mark.”
I’m From South Charleston, OH. “Aaron, one of the “bad kids,” one of the boys who know all of the swear words and somehow can get their hands on cigarettes, comes up behind me and grips my shoulder, turning me around. I begin to panic, wondering what I’ve done wrong. He grabs both my arms, and without saying a word pulls me to him, kissing me deeply on the lips. Then, just like that, he is gone, back to his group of delinquent friends. He never looks back. I stand there, stunned, and unsure of what to do.”