By: Jason Lydon/TRT Columnist-
On the day after Thanksgiving (aka “National Day of Mourning) my father, brother-in-law, and I go to a shooting range together to shoot handguns, rifles, and shotguns. This is a particular type of hetero-male bonding that makes me think of a couple other times I have gone to shoot guns. There have been two bright occasions where a group of queers and trans folks got together to converge on the gun range and learn what those phallic machines are all about.
Let me first say that I dream of a world where we do not have guns and where bullets are only tacky adornments on punkrocker belts. I live in a city where young people are shooting each other. I have no romanticized notion about guns as some kind of long term solution to community problems.
All that said, I want to know how to use these tools. As long as the police and military have guns, I want to have them. As long as the UN can remove sexual orientation from lists of people who should not be arbitrarily executed, I want to know how to shoot guns. As long as queer kids are getting bullied in school and harassed on the streets, I want to know how to use guns. As long as transgender people are being brutally murdered, I want to know how to use guns. As long as queer and transgender prisoners are being raped in prison, I want to know how to use guns. As long as preachers are condemning queer people to a fiery hell, I want to know how to use guns.
I am not interested in a group of queers who go around killing people, rather empowered queer and transgender folks who can protect themselves from violence. Guns are scary and intimidating things. When the names of queer folks are printed in newspapers in Uganda, imagine a contingent of armed queer and trans folks who provided protection outside their homes? We have enough martyrs on our side, we do not need another queer or trans person to die in order to make a point that we are the good, suffering, needy oppressed people seeking validation from straight and gender-conforming systems. We need to defend ourselves and protect each other from ongoing violence.
I know many readers will immediately call upon me and others to adopt pacifism or nonviolence as a supreme ideology. Examples will be given about Gandhi, MLK Jr., and anti-apartheid movement in South Africa. My first response to all of these things is that liberation has not been secured for the people of India, Black people in the US, or South Africans. Secondly, none of those movements were exclusively nonviolent; there were violent components of each and every one of them. In every struggle for liberation there has been a role for armed self-defense. Why should queer/trans liberation be any different? There are those within oppressed communities who find the need to assimilate into the dominant system, but there will always be those who are not allowed to and/or do not want to. These realities lead to queer and transgender people needing to know how to best defend ourselves and protect our communities.
Nearly a dozen of us across Massachusetts coordinated a queers with guns event earlier this year and plan to coordinate more events in the future. If you want to learn how to defend yourself, you are welcome to join us. If you want to understand your fear of guns, join us. If you don’t want the first time you touch a gun to be in a moment when you must use it, join us. If you simply want to practice target shooting, join us. There is a great need for a diversity of tactics to secure our liberation and there are those of us who need to be armed and dangerous while fierce and fabulous!