Yesterday, we attended a rally to support survivors of an alleged assault that took place at a bar on Pittsburgh’s South Side. A small group of queer women reported that they were at Margaritaville, accosted by a group of six men and two of them were physically assaulted. Their crime? Being self-identified “studs” which they believe threatens heterosexual men. The entire group was ejected from Margaritaville leaving the two women to be further assaulted. Both are recovering and police reports have been filed, according to information shared at the rally.
Around 60 people came out on a cold January afternoon to stand near Margaritaville and discuss what happened. They mounted the steps of the local branch of the Carnegie Library, under a sign that said “Free to the People” and spoke their pieces, turn by turn using a borrowed megaphone. They discussed this specific event and tied it to ongoing larger experiences of violence in our society – violence for being LGBTQ.
Some called for boycotts of businesses that aren’t more vigilant for the safety of their LGBTQ patrons, others reminded us that we should be able to patronize any business and not be subjected to violence. Some mentioned the ludicrous situation of being a professional businessperson having to worry about using a bathroom. Others mentioned being unable to find work because they live their lives openly.
Cries for “a zero tolerance policy against violence against LGBTQ people” echoed through the crowd. A lot of whistles of appreciation and applause when City Councilman Bruce Kraus addressed the group and simply said “This is a new day. Our President stands with us. We all have the right to live violence free.”
For more information on upcoming events, visit the Facebook event page which remains active. JourDyn and Emprez are healing, thankfully. People are organizing and you can get invoved if you are interested.
How can you not be? This isn’t about two women at a bar. They didn’t do anything wrong. And they did everything right – reporting the crime, telling the community. They aren’t alone – this happens to each of us, this violence. We all know – it gets better, but it is still there and it still threatens us. We all live in a state with not a single statewide right for us – if I could have said anything yesterday, I would have wanted to try to clarify the legal mismash of bad information that was floating around. But it is very complicated. And we don’t have anyone on the ground synthesizing this for us.
We deserve to live our lives free from violence. As I watched Emprez slowly make her way up the steps to speak, I could see the effort it took – she was really hurting.
What will you do today – this week – to speak out against this violence?