NEW YORK(CBSNewYork) — Members of the city’s LGBT community attended a self-defense training workshop on Saturday night, under the rallying cry ‘we’re not going back in the closet’.
The event was aimed at empowering members of the community in the wake of a series of violent hate crimes.
“We should not be having to face this, we should feel safe in our own neighborhoods,” Gay Activist Eugene Lovendusky told CBS 2′s Don Champion.
Lovendusky was attacked in May, just days after Mark Carson was gunned down in the West Village. The two attacks were part of a troubling uptick in hate crimes against the LGBT community in New York City.
“Now that there has been an increase in violence there’s a feeling in almost every gay individual I’ve been speaking to, ‘what can I do to fight back, because I’m not going to stand for it’,” Lovendusky said.
Those sentiments are the reason that he and others attended a self-defense training workshop on Saturday. City Council Speaker and openly gay mayoral candidate Christine Quinn helped organize the event and made an appearance.
Every kick and block on Saturday was meant to empower.
“There’s nothing that we can say that’s gonna make everything better, or make everything go away, or be right in every situation. The more tools that all have to be able to respond, the better,” said Gabriella Belfiglio, a representative for the Center for Anti-Violence Education.
In light of the attacks the NYPD has increased patrols on the West Side, and a non-profit has stepped in to help increase awareness by running an ad featuring recent hate crime victims in Sunday’s edition of the Spanish language newspaper El Diario.
“I think the biggest fear in the gay community is that the more positive acts and legislation that get passed in our favor, the more likely there will be retaliation,” Lovendusky explained.
Five more workshops have been planned, and the NYPD will be maintaining increased security throughout pride month.
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