I first learned of Matthew Shepard's death on Monday, as I mentioned earlier, and I did a lot of reading on the web. Plus I got research from a friends who works at a magazine. The repeated details only inflamed me further. I felt a great need to be somewhere, and be with other people, united in concern and purpose. What made me angrier was the inability of the gay community here in New York to mobilize sooner, especially in terms of information. I looked into the websites of AVP, Empire State Pride Agenga, GLAAD, CBST, The Center, and others and found no new information. Many of them were not updated since August. I also called around and people did not know if anything was happening.
Finally, at about 4:30 pm, I got a call from a friend who works at the Center, who said that he had just gotten a fax from Empire State Pride Agenda announcing a rally out in front of the New York Republican Party HQ on Lexington and 40th. So I went. I saw a lot of people I knew from my days as a volunteer.
I was underwhelmed, to say the least, to only see about 100 people, or less, at this demonstration, which seemed to be a really pathetic turn out, this being New York City. Most of the people I spoke to heard about it via email. Imagine how many more would have been there if only ESPA's and AVP had updated their websites. At the demo itself it seemes as if both groups were in charge of the demo. So why didn't the person who answered the phone at AVP tell me this, and why didn't they call back with information as promised when they took down my phone number?
I went home completely unsettled, this recent killing and the sluggish response from the NYC gay community sticking in my craw. So, I found myself unable to sleep. This lead to a massive emailing at 5 am, the result being a 2500-word missive originally entitled "My Special Right to Insomnia: Matthew Shepard, Optimism, and Me." I later changed the title to "The Scarecrow Planted in My Heart: Faith and Optimism and the Death of Matthew Shepard" (click here to read it); I sent it to about 50 cousins and friends, a few of which I had not officially come out to yet, but now I had.
Somehow I made it to work on Wednesday morning, and made it there on time, also. Two hours sleep, I recall from college, is better than no sleep at all. I start to get a few responses from people, concerning my long letter. No one is less than supportive. I am also encouraged by one friend in particular to edit it down and submit it someplace for publication.
Meanwhile, my phone calls to the Anti-Violence Project go unanswered, which is odd since I offered to help volunteer for possible vigils or protests, and I find this very agitating. Why is the "community" not responding quicker in a crisis?