Grand Central Die-In, Saving Gay People One Commuter At A Time (Maybe)

In the latest response to the Gay Teen Suicide Crisis of 2010, a group of queer activists staged a “die-in” with at least 300 people participating in Grand Central Station. Responding to a loud whistle signal, everyone participating immediately lay down on the floor of the terminal a little after 6 pm, when commuters were still hurrying home through the city’s busiest public transportation hub.

A giant yellow banner reading END HOMO/TRANSPHOBIC APARTHEID IN AMERICA was unfurled as thousands of commuters tripped over activists and missed their trains. Queer victims of homo/transphobic violence or suicide were named aloud, with the entire crowd chanting their names. The police threatened everyone with arrest unless they dispersed; the activists got back up and began shouting “civil rights now.” Two of the event’s organizers were briefly arrested after the protest was over. (@joemygod)

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What are your feelings? Is this effective? Most of the outreach (for instance, the It Gets Better project) has focused on reaching victimized queer people themselves; this protest is aimed at the average weekday commuter who may or may not know anything about the hardships and marginalization that queer people face.

Is this protest commendable in its demand that mainstream culture take our community’s problems seriously, or does it just make people annoyed with us and our issues? Most of the conversation over on Joe My God seems to have been focused on use of the word “apartheid” so far, which is perfectly legitimate. What do you think? This is your future; you get a vote!


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Rachel is Autostraddle's Managing Editor and the editor who presides over news & politics coverage. Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel now lives in the Midwest. Topics dear to her heart include bisexuality, The X-Files and tacos. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy."

Rachel has written 1011 articles for us.

13 Comments

  1. 0

    I figure, do all of it. Die-ins, IGBP, LAMDA-esque policy work. They’re not mutually exclusive. I’d rather have everyone fight parallel to each other than one huge super movement. The variety of fights will reach different audiences, affect people in different ways, etc. There’s no right way to win the fight, so fight all of them.

  2. 0

    not sure whether i’m down with using the word “apartheid”, but i think it’s totally awesome they’re raising awareness to the issue… disrupting public space, making it tangible, not like the newspaper story that can be skipped or put away… more power to them! 🙂

  3. 0

    I think it’s good visibility, you have to bring the message to everyone not just those who want to listen.

    But yeah, I would have definitely avoided the word apartheid. I am sure they chose it to provoke an even stronger gut reaction, but it just opens the door to getting bogged down in a debate about the legitimacy of any such comparisons and distracts from the immediate issues at hand. We should be able to make the point that our rights have to be recognized and that there is great suffering due to homophobia without having to say “Just as much as these other guys who suffered too!”. Rights denied and human suffering should be unacceptable period.

    • 0

      I agree. Because it is NOT the same thing. Nothing is ever the same as anything else.

      It is, simply, not respectful TO ANYONE ON EITHER SIDE IN EITHER STRUGGLE to liken this struggle to the apartheid, because it’s not the same thing. Why the hell do people feel the need to make comparisons anyway? Can’t we just say that THIS sucks and we need to make THIS better without trying to make it something that it actually isn’t? History repeats itself SURE I get that argument on a general level (e.g. separate but equal is not equal) but on a specific level we are actually talking about different experiences and culture and histories so WHY on earth would we dilute things to the point where they’re argued to be the same thing when they aren’t?

      Oh wow, I am writing just to you right now and realize this is completely unrelated so apologies to everyone else.

  4. 0

    In psychology, we were told that campaigns meant to demonstrate the seriousness of a matter, in fact may make it even worse. For example by showing high statistics of teenage drinking and then saying it has to be stopped in fact encourages more teens to drink cos they have proof other teens are doing so.

    This makes me extremely concerned that by telling gay teens of all these suicides, others will decide to follow suit

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