New Yorkers marched against violence on Saturday in reaction to the gay bashing of Kevin Aviance. Towleroad correspondent Aaron B. sends in this report with photos, noting that more people may have showed up to the hastily organized event (including this blogger) with more lead time, but it still appeared to be a lively event anyway.
The turnout seemed surprisingly sparse at 2PM, and it was pretty subdued. A woman with a Caribbean accent asked me what the fuss was about, and when I told her, she was glad to see the protest. She had been very upset about the Aviance story. She had lived in the neighborhood for 26 years, and had always felt safe until she herself had been attacked last year. “But the thing is,” she said, shaking her head,” it’s 2006, and people shouldn’t be hating like that anymore.” Nobody else really put any more succinctly than she had.
The crowd filled out a bit by 2:45 when the rally began with City Council member Rosie Mendez (“the other lesbian on the city council”), State senator Tom Duane, and Event “host” Hedda Lettuce, alone in full drag. Still, the crowd didn’t catch fire until we started marching across 13th Street towards 7th Avenue, where we seemed to pick up marchers along the way. Signs that had been carried low were raised high, and chanting began, the crowd favorite being “This is New York City, Bitch! You Can’t Fuck with Us!”, the refrain from ” This is New York City, Bitch!”, a song by “tranny super-group” LaMady which includes Aviance. Suddenly we started feeling like an event as cars honked in support as we crossed intersections.
By the time we reached Sheridan Square, energy was appropriately high as La Aviance himself was there in full makeup to express his appreciation. Several speakers followed. I drifted away when Michael Lucas took the mic because it always seems like he has his own axe to grind. The crowd was a mixed bag which included nightlife promoters Jonny McGovern, Daniel Nardicio and Max Scott, DJs Randy Bettis, Jon Jon Battles and James Andersen, singer Billy Porter, pornstars Jake Deckard and Will Clark and an out-of-drag Sherry Vine among others. I was a little surprised and disappointed that the crowd wasn’t bigger.
I figured that if I was going to drag my lazy, gay ass downtown to protest my right not to be randomly beaten up that every other queen in the city would too, especially since the beating was so widely covered in the media. But as I walked through Chelsea afterward, I ran into a couple of friends who had no idea that there had been a march at all, and probably would have gone if they had known. It was an impressive showing for such short notice, but a little more lead time and more publicity might have made a much bigger and much needed statement.
Here are some additional shots taken by Aaron at the march. Aaron writes The Shophound, a blog about the retail scene in New York.
Video (thanks jordy):