I sent this letter to my GLBTA (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered, Allies) community here at PSU. I thought that everyone could benefit from the advice.
To all members of the GLBTA community,
During Junior High and High School, I received a great deal of abuse due to my open homosexuality. Gay-bashing was viewed as harmless violence, like a school yard fight. In reality, the abuse I received has damaged me emotionally for life. However, I take a great deal of comfort knowing that my sacrifices back then prevented many other kids from getting hurt. I allowed myself to be a target so that others were spared.
That was then. And I have learn some things from my experiences, as well from this tragedy.
People, you do NOT have to live in fear that this will happen to you. Be SMART, be SAFE, you can be openly gay and NOT have to look over your shoulder every second for some extremist about to attack you.
The fact is most attacks CAN be prevented. By recognizing dangerous situations, you can successfully prevent this from happening to you OR to one of our friends.
1. At night, ESPECIALLY on a weekend, DO NOT allow yourself, or someone you care about travel alone through areas that are sparsely traveled.
2. Stick to the major roads of travel if you can. And (I know that some of you hate this concept) DON'T walk alone. Would you rather be uncomfortable or hurt? I would rather you be ANGRY at me for following you to your car or house than allow you to place yourself in danger.
3. When approached by a questionable group of men (or women in some cases) be polite. Use your head, don't be afraid to lie about yourself if you are alone or feel like you could be placed in danger. Avoid groups of people who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
These are a few things I think of as common sense. I have learned that it is better to lie or run out of a situation rather than risk a confrontation.
In a real bashing, it is VERY unlikely that you will be faced with a one-on-one situation. Self defense courses are good, but when faced with 2,3 or more on 1 situations....Self defense starts to run out.
You think you are prepared for a conflict until one happens...then you realize that you CAN'T prepare. You can only prevent. Be SMART, be SAFE, and you have nothing to fear.
These are the facts. Ask ANYONE who has been through an attack, most people can pick out mistakes they made in maintaining their safety. These crimes ARE horrible, and more laws are needed to deter them from happening, but PREVENTION is you best Protection from hatred.
PLEASE, be careful. There are some of you out there that have had a great deal of people who care for you like I do.
Learn from his tragic sacrifice. Be SAFE, BE SMART....
And peace be with you.
Take care of yourselves.