Mark Carson Murder: Anti-Gay Hate Crimes Are Far From a Distant Memory

After series of hate crimes targeted against gay men in New York City, thousands of protesters gathered at the site of Mark Carson’s death in the spirit of restoring a sense of security to one of New York City's most gay-friendly neighborhoods. Ironically, the hate crimes happened before and after IDAHO, a day when the LGBT community was supposed to send out messages toward ending discrimination against LGBT individuals.

Protesters could still feel the tension in the air. As Fabio Cotza described in an interview with the Huffington Post, the killing "really makes me scared … especially since it happened in this area."

Carson didn't die without leaving a positive impact on the LGBT community’s determination to end homophobia and hate crimes against them. A group of activists are planning to spread out to various neighborhoods in New York City every Friday night in June to share the importance of ending hate crimes. Public schools also join arms with activists to hold panels discussing about hate crimes and bullying.

While New York City and especially Greenwich Village have long been considered the hot spot for gay communities around the country, hate crimes targeting gay men have increased in recent years. Michelangelo Signorile, the editor-at-large for HuffPost Gay Voices, called this a "brutal backlash" on equality.

 "And perhaps the shock I'm seeing expressed about it, particularly among younger LGBT people, underscores that many of us have been living with a false sense of security, intoxicated by the wins on marriage equality in the states and in the federal courts," said Signorile.

These repetitive hate crimes targeting gay men in one of the cities that they considered "friendly" to them have proved the gradual complacency that's developing within the LGBT community as we are immersed in the victory of freedom to marry. Although support for anti-discrimination measures against gay and transgender people is growing, the threat from minorities who still don't appreciate gay dignity is still substantial. The shock waves that are sent through incidents like these hate crimes can easily insert doubt into the heart of the LGBT community.

According to Raymond Kelly, the police commissioner in charge of the investigation of Carson's death, bias-related crimes have risen from 13 to 22 in New York City. The city is witnessing five attacks directed at gay men since May 5. While the majority are changing their position regarding issues of marriage equality and anti-discrimination law, a minority of individuals are still imposing life-threatening risks on LGBT individuals.

Signorile is right that while we have focused mostly on passing laws and getting court rulings declared, we have forgotten that these are actually the easier parts to accomplish compared to substantial change in the attitude and acceptance ofLGBT individuals in society. The goal of passing laws and getting court orders is to invest in a more LGBT-friendly attitude in the future generations. We might expect the change to come right after the laws are passed, but the truth is, we must first endure the backlash from the opposing camp. Rather than losing awareness of the existing violence against LGBT individuals, it is vital for us to bear in mind that success doesn't come without sacrifice. 

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William Yang

William Yang is a writer, activist and blogger currently residing in Philadelphia while finishing his Master of Journalism degree at Temple University. He enjoys writing about human rights, equality and social welfare issues. While he's not writing, photography becomes another way for him to tell stories.

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