Before we dive in: This is for queer people who want to participate in promoting safety in the specific context of protest spaces with specific regards to outside agitators, and is intended just as a general overview to help you get started. This is a very heavy topic. Take breaks as needed. If you’d like something added, or something is confusing, email me.
If you’re queer in NYC, there is a self-defense workshop coming up on July 2nd.
Is it safe?
Pride events are underway across the city and country. Amid heightened hate-mongery and extremist activity, it can feel scary to potentially expose yourself to harm. That is the intent of the intimidation and hate-mongery: To make you afraid you’ll be harmed if you show up. Their threats should in no way influence whether or not you do attend, only in how you show up.
As extremist researcher Jay Ulfelder pointed out, social media heavily skews perception, with significant attention given to instances of extreme violence and very little given to the abundance of massive events where nothing happens except pure joy.
“As I comb through news about Pride this year for our data on U.S. protest activity, I’m seeing way more ‘first’ or ‘biggest’ along with ‘joy,’ ‘love,’ and ‘fun’ than I’m seeing protests against those events. And where there have been protests, they’ve almost all been tiny and sad.” x
Massive protests pose very little risk of harm. This is for two reasons: 1) Bullies aren’t typically inclined to take on a target substantially larger than themselves, 2) The statistical probability of you encountering harm drops the more people are around you.
The inverse applies as well: Aggressors are more emboldened against a smaller target. The fewer people who show up to defend or occupy a space means your risk of harm dramatically increases: You literally change from 1 in 10,000 to 1 in 10. Neither of these things guarantee harm will occur — I’ve seen plenty of Drag Story Hour defenses with just a handful of people who successfully kept aggressors at bay simply because anyone showed up against them. It only really takes one person to block a door from screaming extremists, but there’s a lot of psychological comfort in numbers.