More than 1,500 New Yorkers gathered today in Manhattan to mourn the death of a 32 year-old gay man, who was shot down on Friday just blocks away from the historic Stonewall Inn in an apparent act of anti-gay bias.
Anti-Gay Group Targets LGBT Prom and Exploits Youth.
LGBT youth proms like the one that BAGLY (Boston Alliance of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Youth) hosts annually in Boston, MA give young members of the LGBT community an opportunity to participate in and enjoy high school prom in a safe and supportive environment that affirms who they are.
On May 9, 2009, MassResistance, an anti-gay group self described as "a pro-family action center" sent a 20-year-old referred to only as "Max" to infiltrate the BAGLY prom. When he returned, he wrote a report about the prom on the group's website that was picked up by WorldNetDaily staff writer Chelsea Schilling. She wrote about the event and Max's report in her article "Kids attend prom from ‘sexual hell'".
Max's report uses offensive and dehumanizing language in reference to the prom attendees, often misconstruing the sexual orientations and gender identities of those he writes about. He underplays the security of the event, which included 100 adult chaperones (including BAGLY staff, police officers and parents), mandatory bag checks and metal detectors. He refers to the adults present as "homosexual recruiting gangs," and paints a crude, deliberately misleading picture of what was actually an inclusive and celebratory event for young people.
The report targets these LGBT youth and puts them in harms way by exploiting and misrepresenting what was suposed to be a safe and inclusive opportunity to relax and have fun. Max misrepresented himself as a member of the community and took photos of these young people, which were posted on the MassResistance webpage without the permission of the attendees or their parents or guardians. An event that was supposed to serve as a safe space for local LGBT youth was turned into the opposite by MassResistance.
This incident highlights exactly why LGBT proms and similar events and institutions are especially important. It is essential that young people have a safe and secure environment to express themselves without being subjected to harassment. Groups such as BAGLY are vitally important because of their dedication in providing these kinds of safe spaces for LGBT youth.