Throughout history, certain groups of people have been singled out for persecution. Because of what some see as dangerous differences, these outsiders experience ridicule and unprovoked violence at a much higher rate than the general population. The 20th century is littered with such examples: Jews, Gypsies, homoséxuals, and other non-Aryans in Nazi Germany, the Armenians in Ottoman Turkey, Christians in Uganda, anti-Communists during Mao’s Great Leap Forward, or anyone who was thought to be an intellectual during Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge.

While the 21st century has thus far been seemingly less bloody for outsiders, thanks to an increasingly tolerant modern world, certain groups are still targeted more often than others – including those who identify as lesbian, gay, biséxual, or transgender (LGBT). Using this umbrella term in the broadest sense, LGBT individuals continue to experience unprovoked violence at a much higher rate than the general population, yet self defense designed specifically for them is rarely discussed, let alone available. This is in spite of horrific attacks like the well publicized torture and killing of Matthew Shepard or the Pulse Nightclub mass murder.

Our view is that adults should be free to associate with one another, particularly in the privacy of their own homes, without state interference. Not everyone agrees with this point of view. However, it’s hard to ignore unprovoked violence on members of the LGBT community simply because some view their lifestyle as immoral – particularly because, nowadays, the act of even legally owning a gun is viewed as immoral by some 20 percent of the country.

Thus, if gun ownership is at least in part about defending one’s personal sovereignty from either state power or the unprovoked violence of another, then a self-defense guide specifically for LGBT individuals is in order.

A Sad History of Violence Against Gays and Other LGBT

Before the freedom fights and the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, American gays faced a life filled with anti-gay legislation and a society that believed being gay was both a moral sin and something individuals could “overcome.” The FBI and police departments, as well as state and local governments, kept lists of known homoséxuals, those they associated with, and where they socialized. Even the United States Post Office tracked homoséxual packages, recording where they were delivered. Gay establishments were shut down by police and people were arrested and jailed for being gay.

In 1952, the first edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM)which detailed mental health diseases recognized by the American Psychiatric Association, listed homoséxuality as a mental disorder. It remained as such until 1974.

Gay Panic

Being gay was not only considered a mental illness, but violence against gays was also justified through “gay panic,” which claims that violence is a rational response to finding out an individual was gay, making it both understandable and acceptable. Gay panic has even been used in murder cases and has led to lesser sentencing. As recently as 2015, a Texas man used gay panic as a defense in killing his neighbor. While the perpetrator was found guilty of criminally negligent homicide, he was only sentenced to six months in jail, along with 10 years probation, 100 hours of community service, and $11,000 in restitution. As of spring 2019, only CaliforniaIllinois, and Rhode Island have legally banned the use of gay panic or trans panic as a defense.

The Stonewall Riots

By 1969, violence against gays and the LGBT community was recognized for what it was – unprovoked violence based on these individuals’ séxual preference. On June 28, 1969, a group of police officers raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar located in Greenwich Village, Manhattan, New York. While raids weren’t uncommon, the police lost control of the raid and were unable to control the crowds.

This became known as the Stonewall Riots, which erupted into violence, riots, and protests that lasted five days and birthed the gay rights movement.

Continue reading Self Defense for LGBT: Self-Protection and Concealed Carry (CCW) for the LGBT Community at