Cindy Rodriguez is the Urban Policy reporter for New York Public Radio.
The recent spate of anti-gay hate crimes has shocked many in the gay community. According to police, these crimes have more than doubled so far this year from 14 to 29, and most have been in Manhattan. But gay advocacy organizations say, and police acknowledge, that much of what happens never makes it into a police report.
Ioannis Dunn is one thousands who on Monday marched through the streets of the West Village to denounce the killing of 32-year-old Mark Carson. Carson was shot in the face on 8th Street and 6th Avenue. Dunn understood the relevance of holding the march in the neighborhood, but at the same time wondered if this sort of massive gay presence wasn’t needed more in other places. Afterall, he said, the West Village is highly populated with gay people.
“It's sort of preaching to the converted already,” Dunn said.
Dunn may be correct. According to the New York City Anti-Violence Project, bias attacks against gays are increasing the most in Queens and the Bronx. The group tracks incidents by getting first-person accounts, as well as by collecting reports from the police and District Attorneys. Incidents include physical assaults and getting called gay epithets.
At Lucho's Sports Club, several patrons said getting verbally harassed along Roosevelt Avenue in Jackson Heights is fairly common. Twenty-nine-year-old Angel Rivera is a waiter at Lucho's and says there are a lot of drunk, straight people who call him names when he leaves at 4 a.m.
“It's happened to me. But I ignore it because if I don't, they'll all jump on me and I'm by myself,” Rivera said.
Rivera said it's the people who don't ignore it that can find themselves in trouble. Carlos Garcia agreed with that. The handsome, well-dressed 28-year-old said he always tries to avoid trouble.
“I take very good care of myself. I don't walk alone because you never know what can happen. The insults can start and then I get beat up. You never know,” Garcia said.
Besides the insults, no one in this group had experienced any physical harm. The bartender, a buff, tattooed, 30-year-old named Joaquin Carrello, said while recent attacks have left him a little scared, he also feels a sense of responsibility to continue to be himself and assert his rights as a gay man.
“Show them that we are the same as they are and have the same rights and if I want to hold my lover’s hand I can because if you're always hiding, they will never understand,” Carello said.