Pink pistols

The gay movement often portrays homosexuals as helpless victims. Here's an alternative: Arm them.

Topics: LGBT, Guns, Gun Control,

Pink pistols

One night in the autumn of 1987, in Little Rock, Ark., a boy named Austin Fulk smelled his own death. He was 17, too young to drink in the bars, so he often hung out in a park that was popular among gay teenagers. On this night the sky was overcast, the ground soggy from a day’s rain and the place mostly deserted. He was standing in a dimly lit parking lot, chatting with a man who had driven into town in a pickup truck.

A car drove past very slowly, sped up, turned around and came back. Someone inside yelled something like, “Fucking faggots, get AIDS and die!” Fulk’s companion returned the compliment. The car slammed to a stop and four young men piled out, one with a baseball bat, another with a crowbar or tire iron.

“I thought I was about to die,” says Austin; but he is alive, and that is because his companion reached into the truck and whipped out a pistol from under the seat, leveled it at the gay-bashers and fired a single shot over their heads. All at once, their courage deserted them. They ran back to their car and drove away.

Austin is one of two gay men I know who believe they were saved from death, or at least a long hospital stay, by guns. Guns, however, will play no part in the program for the gay and lesbian Millennium March that takes place April 30 in Washington. Early on, organizers of the march adopted eight “priority issues,” with “hate-crimes legislative protections” first on the list.

A federal hate-crimes statute died in the Republican Congress last year, but mainstream voters and politicians are increasingly receptive. After 21-year-old Matthew Shepard was beaten, tied to a fence post and left to die in 1998, hate-crimes laws emerged as straight America’s favorite gay-rights measure. Today almost half the states have bias-crimes laws that cover gay-bashing, and anyway, gay-bashing is already a crime in every state.

I won’t quibble over the pros and cons of hate-crimes laws. In a way, I don’t need to, because the numbers speak for themselves: the laws are at best insufficient, at worst ineffective. Anti-gay crimes reported to the FBI almost doubled between 1992 and 1998. The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs monitors 16 jurisdictions and found 33 anti-gay murders in 1998, up from 14 in 1997. The coalition also found that gay-bashers were becoming more likely to use deadly weapons: guns, baseball bats, knives. There is not a city in America where gay couples can hold hands in public without fear. Gay-bashing is a kind of low-level terrorism designed to signal that, whatever the law may say, queers are pathetic and grotesque. Beyond a certain point, therefore, law can’t be the answer.



So it is remarkable that the gay movement in America has never seriously considered a strategy that ought to be glaringly obvious. Thirty-one states allow all qualified citizens to carry concealed weapons. In those states, homosexuals should embark on organized efforts to become comfortable with guns, learn to use them safely and carry them. They should set up Pink Pistols task forces, sponsor shooting courses and help homosexuals get licensed to carry. And they should do it in a way that gets as much publicity as possible.

John Lott of Yale University has done extensive research on concealed-gun laws and finds that they reduce violent crime, especially among minorities, who are at greater risk, and above all among women, who are otherwise perceived as easy targets. Even if you disbelieve his research for crime in general, remember that gay-bashers are probably especially ripe for deterrence. They aren’t career criminals or super-predators. More often, they are drunken or rowdy youths who decide to prove their manhood by picking on the weakest, most limp-wristed thing they can think of: a faggot.

If it became widely known that homosexuals carry guns and know how to use them, not many bullets would need to be fired. In fact, not all that many gay people would need to carry guns, as long as gay-bashers couldn’t tell which ones did. Suddenly, what is now an almost risk-free sport for testosterone-drenched teenagers would become a great deal less attractive.

Won’t bullets fly in the streets? Won’t blood flow in torrents? If that were going to happen, it would have happened by now. Today almost half of all Americans (and 60 percent of gun owners) live in states that license concealed weapons; abuse of lawfully carried guns turns out to be vanishingly rare. Remember, to get a permit you typically need to register with the police, pay a fee, pass a gun-safety test, have no criminal record, not be crazy and so on. In aggregate, people with concealed-gun permits handle their weapons more safely than off-duty cops.

No doubt some gay-bashers would respond by adding guns to their own arsenals (as they are already doing anyway). Lott’s research suggests, however, that the effects of any such “arms races” are more than offset by criminals’ desire to steer clear of potentially fatal confrontations. That finding, one can safely guess, applies doubly to gay-bashers, for whom the whole point is to beat up on someone weak. The last thing they want is to risk their lives in a firefight with a trained opponent.

So pink pistols can save lives, which is important. But — and this is even more important — they can also change lives.

To see this, consider a somewhat uncomfortable question. After decades of anti-gay killings, many of them unutterably savage, why was it the Shepard murder that finally became a cause celebre among heterosexual Americans?

Many reasons, of course. Shepard looked angelic and could have been anyone’s child; the story of his agonizing deathbed countdown riveted attention; the crime and its symbolism were horrible and moving. But there is, I think, one more reason, which is not quite so innocuous. Shepard was small, helpless and childlike. He never had a chance. This made him a sympathetic figure of a sort that is comfortingly familiar to straight Americans: the weak homosexual.

Since time immemorial, weakness has been a defining stereotype of homosexuality. Think of the words you heard on the school playground: “limp-wrist,” “pansy,” “panty-waist,” “fairy.” No other minority has been so consistently identified with contemptible weakness. Hate-crimes laws, whatever their other attributes, do nothing to challenge the stereotype of the pathetic faggot. Indeed, they confirm it. By running to the heterosexual majority for protection, homosexuals reaffirm their vulnerability and victimhood.

If anti-Semites hate Israel, that is in no small measure because Israel shattered the ancient stereotype of the helpless and sniveling Jew. Jews with an army! Jews who fight back! You can hate Israel all you like, but you don’t bully it. Israel changed the way Jews see themselves, and it changed the way gentiles see Jews.

Guns can do the same thing for homosexuals: emancipate them from their image — often internalized — of cringing weakness. Pink pistols, I’ll warrant, would do far more for the self-esteem of the next generation of gay men and women than any number of hate-crime laws or anti-discrimination statutes.

I don’t advocate a swaggering or confrontational attitude toward the American majority, or for that matter toward gay-bashers. Gays shouldn’t play Dirty Harry. I also don’t favor abandoning other efforts to mobilize law and public opinion against violence. Pink pistols are a kind of civil-rights measure, but they are fully compatible with other, more traditional kinds of civil-rights measures.

Still, the abiding fact is this: Homosexuals have been too vulnerable for too long. We have tried to make a political virtue of our vulnerability, but the gay-bashers aren’t listening. Playing the victim card has won us sympathy, but at the cost of respect. So let’s make gay-bashing dangerous. We should do that for our own protection. But we should also do it because we will win a full measure of esteem from the public, and from ourselves, only when we make clear our determination to look after ourselves.

Austin Fulk now lives in Virginia. He is a certified pistol instructor and is licensed to carry a concealed firearm. He has never had to use it.

Jonathan Rauch is a guest scholar at the Brookings Institution and the author of "Gay Marriage: Why It Is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America."

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 14
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Pilot"

    One of our first exposures to uncomfortable “Girls” sex comes early, in the pilot episode, when Hannah and Adam “get feisty” (a phrase Hannah hates) on the couch. The pair is about to go at it doggy-style when Adam nearly inserts his penis in “the wrong hole,” and after Hannah corrects him, she awkwardly explains her lack of desire to have anal sex in too many words. “Hey, let’s play the quiet game,” Adam says, thrusting. And so the romance begins.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Elijah, "It's About Time"

    In an act of “betrayal” that messes up each of their relationships with Hannah, Marnie and Elijah open Season 2 with some more couch sex, which is almost unbearable to watch. Elijah, who is trying to explore the “hetero side” of his bisexuality, can’t maintain his erection, and the entire affair ends in very uncomfortable silence.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Charlie, "Vagina Panic"

    Poor Charlie. While he and Marnie have their fair share of uncomfortable sex over the course of their relationship, one of the saddest moments (aside from Marnie breaking up with him during intercourse) is when Marnie encourages him to penetrate her from behind so she doesn’t have to look at him. “This feels so good,” Charlie says. “We have to go slow.” Poor sucker.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Shoshanna and camp friend Matt, "Hannah's Diary"

    We’d be remiss not to mention Shoshanna’s effort to lose her virginity to an old camp friend, who tells her how “weird” it is that he “loves to eat pussy” moments before she admits she’s never “done it” before. At least it paves the way for the uncomfortable sex we later get to watch her have with Ray?

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Hard Being Easy"

    On the heels of trying (unsuccessfully) to determine the status of her early relationship with Adam, Hannah walks by her future boyfriend’s bedroom to find him masturbating alone, in one of the strangest scenes of the first season. As Adam jerks off and refuses to let Hannah participate beyond telling him how much she likes watching, we see some serious (and odd) character development ... which ends with Hannah taking a hundred-dollar bill from Adam’s wallet, for cab fare and pizza (as well as her services).

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Booth Jonathan, "Bad Friend"

    Oh, Booth Jonathan -- the little man who “knows how to do things.” After he turns Marnie on enough to make her masturbate in the bathroom at the gallery where she works, Booth finally seals the deal in a mortifying and nearly painful to watch sex scene that tells us pretty much everything we need to know about how much Marnie is willing to fake it.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Tad and Loreen, "The Return"

    The only sex scene in the series not to feature one of the main characters, Hannah’s parents’ showertime anniversary celebration is easily one of the most cringe-worthy moments of the show’s first season. Even Hannah’s mother, Loreen, observes how embarrassing the situation is, which ends with her husband, Tad, slipping out of the shower and falling naked and unconscious on the bathroom floor.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and the pharmacist, "The Return"

    Tad and Loreen aren’t the only ones to get some during Hannah’s first season trip home to Michigan. The show’s protagonist finds herself in bed with a former high school classmate, who doesn’t exactly enjoy it when Hannah puts one of her fingers near his anus. “I’m tight like a baby, right?” Hannah asks at one point. Time to press pause.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Role-Play"

    While it’s not quite a full-on, all-out sex scene, Hannah and Adam’s attempt at role play in Season 3 is certainly an intimate encounter to behold (or not). Hannah dons a blond wig and gets a little too into her role, giving a melodramatic performance that ends with a passerby punching Adam in the face. So there’s that.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Shoshanna and Ray, "Together"

    As Shoshanna and Ray near the end of their relationship, we can see their sexual chemistry getting worse and worse. It’s no more evident than when Ray is penetrating a clothed and visibly horrified Shoshanna from behind, who ends the encounter by asking if her partner will just “get out of me.”

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Frank, "Video Games"

    Hannah, Jessa’s 19-year-old stepbrother, a graveyard and too much chatting. Need we say more about how uncomfortable this sex is to watch?

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Desi, "Iowa"

    Who gets her butt motorboated? Is this a real thing? Aside from the questionable logistics and reality of Marnie and Desi’s analingus scene, there’s also the awkward moment when Marnie confuses her partner’s declaration of love for licking her butthole with love for her. Oh, Marnie.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Vagina Panic"

    There is too much in this scene to dissect: fantasies of an 11-year-old girl with a Cabbage Patch lunchbox, excessive references to that little girl as a “slut” and Adam ripping off a condom to ejaculate on Hannah’s chest. No wonder it ends with Hannah saying she almost came.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>