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GLN GAY BASHING & HATE CRIMES NEWS

GLN Joins MLK Day Protest For "Respect and Justice" on South Side

Coretta King was an outspoken backer of gay and lesbian rights, including marriage equality.

In a protest timed to occur on the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., 30 protesters marched for over two miles along 79th Street on Chicago's predominately African American South Side. The march passed near the so-called "gay house" where 6 African American party goers were shot by masked gunmen on December 31.

The protest was organized by the Coalition of Black Gays and Lesbians which includes Marc Loveless and Wil Lockett, who is also active in Black LGBTs and Allies for Equality. Loveless told a reporter that only one of the injured men remains in a hospital, and that his injuries are not life threatening. The party at the "gay house" was reportedly attended by some 100, mainly lesbians and gay men. The identify of the shooters and their motive are presently unknown.

What is known is that antigay sentiments were expressed by neighborhood residents interviewed by the media, and that officials, both Black and white, have been silent on the violence and hatred expressed. Two residents justified the shooting and suggested that the victims not only brought the violence down upon themselves, but ought to relocate to the "suburbs or some place, since this (Grand Crossing) neighborhood is for normal, you know, straight people."

The African American lesbian organization, Affinity, turned-out about 12 people for the protest, and one of the residents of the "gay house" joined the march after it paused near his home. He thanked the marchers at the end of the protest, near 79th & Jeffrey. Signs proclaimed, "Black Gays Demand Respect," and "Black Gays Demand Justice." Two gay liberation flags floated over the marchers. Chants proclaimed that the time for justice and respect had arrived.

Seven GLN members joined the protest to oppose antigay hate and as an act of solidarity with African American LGBT people. In a letter printed earlier in Chicago Free Press, GLN condemned not only the hatred of some community residents toward their gay neighbors, but the failure of politicians to speak out against the violence and homophobia expressed by some in the neighborhood. In particular, gay alderman Tom Tunney not only offered an opinion that the shooting was "not a hate crime," but failed to criticize the silence of the city administration and other officials in the wake of the violence and hatred meted out to the young gay African Americans.

Later at Rockefeller chapel on the campus of the University of Chicago, some GLNers heard Coretta Scott King's support to lesbians and gays explicitly referenced in a tribute to her accomplishments, given as part of a commemoration of the life of her husband, Martin Luther King, Jr.

Bob Schwartz



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