If you attended the Vigil Against the Violence last month or last nights LGBTQ Community Meeting on Hate Violence hosted by Eleanor Holmes Norton, you know that there is a lot of work to be done to address the increase in Hate Crimes in DC. Here are some things you can do right now to make a difference.
(1) Tell the DC Council to take action on hate crimes and pass the Trans and Gay Panic Defense Bill. The gay and trans “panic” defense is a legal strategy which asks a jury to find that a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity is to blame for the defendant’s violent reaction, including murder. Here in the District of Columbia the gay “panic defense” was used in the case of Tony Hunter. Tony was a black gay man murdered in 2008 outside of a gay club on 9th Street NW. And the man who killed him was sentenced to a mere six months in jail. Learn more and sign the petition here.
(2) Celebrate the Life of Zoe Spears. A memorial to celebrate the life of Zoe Spears July 12th at 10 AM at the Metropolitan Community Church. Come be part of this event and honor Zoe’s memory. thedccenter.org/events/zoespears
(3) Organize! Join us for the next DC Anti-Violence Project Meeting. The DC Anti-Violence Project aims to reduce violence against LGBTQ individuals (and those perceived as LGBTQ) through community outreach, education, monitoring of cases, advocacy, and community support. thedccenter.org/events/dcavp
(4) Tell the DC Council to decriminalize sex work in DC. Policing and criminalization of sex work is one of the primary sites of racial profiling, police violence, and mass incarceration of Black and brown women, girls, and trans and gender nonconforming folks. This violence is compounded when they are also denied access to housing, health care, transportation, healthy food, and other basic human needs based on discrimination and stigma. The decriminalization of sex work is one step in ending this violence. Learn more and sign the petition here.
(5) Drop off food at Casa Ruby or Wanda Alston House or make hygiene kits for LGBTQ folks experiencing homelessness. Zoe Spears was a client at both Casa Ruby or Wanda Alston House. If you’d like to sign up to make dinner for youth experiencing homelessness at Casa Ruby or the Wanda Alston House, or if you would like to pull together a group of folks to make kits for LGBTQ people experiencing homelessness, Learn more about group volunteer opportunities here.
(6) Learn how hate crimes impact other communities. Hate crimes are not just increasing in the LGBTQ community. People (including some of us in the LGBTQ community) are being targeted because of our race, ethnicity, ancestry, religion, or disability. The Hate Crimes Bias Task Force is a good place to learn more about all hate crimes in our city and to work in partnership with other communities that are being impacted. We are stronger when we work together! The next Hate Crimes Bias Task Force Meeting is July 24th at 7:00 PM at the DC Center. thedccenter.org/events/hatebiastaskforce
(7) Attend your local ANC Meetings and run for office in the District! An ANC is a non-partisan, neighborhood body made up of locally elected representatives called Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners. They are a unique feature of the District’s Home Rule Charter. The Commissioners, who serve two-year terms without pay, are elected at DC Elections in November in even-numbered years (e.g. 2016). The ANCs were established to bring government closer to the people, and to bring the people closer to government. Our LGBT ANC reps are our fiercest advocates and supporters. Learn more about ANC’s here, and if you are thinking about running for office the Victory Fund is a great place to start!
(8) Tell DC Council to support the LGBT Older Adults and Long Term Survivors of HIV Amendment Act. A lot of the recent conversations have focused on the need for services for the LGBTQ community, and a lot of work is underway to fight for the resources we need. The Care for LGBTQ Seniors and Seniors with HIV Amendment Act addresses this issue for our seniors and long term survivors! The bill, modeled after similar efforts in Massachusetts and California, adds LGBT elders and older people with HIV to the list of those older people in the District who are considered to have greatest social need under the Older Americans Act (OAA). Making this small but important update to how the law is implemented in DC, ensures that LGBT elders and people living with HIV have equal access to crucial government aging services and programming. Learn more and sign the petition here.
(9) Make your voice heard at the Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs Advisory Committee Meeting. The Office of LGBTQ Affairs works in collaboration with an Advisory Committee, which is appointed by the Mayor. Their mission is to “address concerns of the LGBTQ community and find innovative ways of utilizing government resources to help address issues affecting LGBTQ residents of Washington, DC.” These meetings are open to the public and include time for concerned community members to make public comments. Come to this meeting and make your voice heard! thedccenter.org/events/lgbtq-affairs-meeting
(10) Take care of each other. Take time to reach out to your friends who have have been impacted by violence recently, as well as friends who have experienced violence in the past and may be triggered by what is currently happening. If you know someone who needs a person to talk to, call the DC Center during office hours to arrange an appointment with a licensed clinical social worker (202) 682-2245. If we are at capacity we will do our best to connect you to other resources in the community. Also, let folks know about the Queer Women Working Through Trauma group at the DC Center. A new 8 week session starts in September.