Black Gay Youths Form Gangs For Protection

I came across this article over at Wonderman's blog and had to post about it. Apparently the hostile, homophobic environment in the D.C. metro area has caused some black gay youth to form gangs.

“I just got tired of people beating on me and calling me faggie,” Tayron Bennett, 21, told me recently. He’d helped to organize Check It while a student at Hine Junior High School. Other gay youths from his Trinidad neighborhood in Northeast soon joined, followed by gay youths from throughout the city.

D.C. police estimate that Check It has a core membership of about 20 and counts between 50 and 100 others as “associates.”

“At first, I tried fighting bullies one-on-one, but they don’t fight fair; they fight two and three on one,” Bennett said. So the youths got together and “started carrying mace, knives, brass knuckles and stun guns, and if somebody messed with one of us then all of us would gang up on them.”

The District may have a reputation as a “gay friendly” city, home to one of the largest, most affluent and politically influential gay and lesbian communities in the country. But Bennett and his friends live in a world where attitudes toward homosexuality are not always so progressive.
Philip Pannell, a community activist who is gay, said he believes that Check It would benefit from having some adult black gay male role models in their lives. But that’s not likely to happen anytime soon.

“It’s sad that we have all of these gay black men in Washington and all they do is work all day and go to black gay clubs on the weekends,” Pannell told me. “They won’t help out the gay youth because then they’d have to confront the homophobia of the larger black community.”

While I can certainly sympathize with why Tayron and his friends would take such an approach to dealing with bullying and harassment (there is strength in numbers), going the vigilante route can have dangerous consequences. According to the article, Tayron has been charged with assault once and suffered injuries from a jailhouse scuffle, and who knows what else could happen if he and the other gang members continue to get into violent situations.

Read the rest of the Washington Post article HERE.