Is LGBTQ Progress Leading to Violence or Are We Reporting More?
At a time when twelve states have legalized same-sex marriage, it appears that LGBTQ rights are moving in a positive direction, even politically. Republican politicians are becoming more vocal in their support of same-sex unions, despite the costs to their careers. Top WNBA pick Brittany Griner was joined in her out-and-proud status by NBA center Jason Collins. With his announcement that he is gay, Collins became the first active male athlete from one of the “Big Five” sports to do so, also making him the first to receive mostly strong support and encouragement.
Yet, while we take these steps forward, we seem to also be taking so many back. In New York City alone, 24 attacks on gays have already been reported this year, compared to 14 attacks by this time in 2012. Including the brutal murder of Mark Carson in Manhattan's West Village on May 17, the number of anti-gay violent attacks this month alone rose to 9. The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs has found media reports of 17 incidents of violence affecting LGBTQ communities across the entire U.S. during April 2013 (their figures for May are not yet available). New York Police Department Commissioner Ray Kelly says department data indicates anti-gay attacks in the City are up almost 70 percent this year.
Is the spike in anti-gay attacks a backlash? Some might say that changing legislation is only half the battle won, leaving the task of changing mindsets and behaviors. Could the spike be a result of more witnesses willing to come forward to report instances of abuse and discrimination, rather than being silent bystanders? Is this indication of changes in reporting attitudes? All of the above?