by Caryn Jensen
On Nov. 12 at the State Capitol here, as many as 150 people turned out for a die-in for queer rights. The “Homophobia Kills!” Die-In was planned in response to the increased media coverage of the queer suicides happening across the country and mirrored after two other die-ins that had already taken place in New York and Boston.
In mid-October, four queer activists—Aaron Mc-Auliffe, Al Riccio, Caryn Jensen, and Samson Hampton—met at Aaron’s house to discuss the possibility of doing a die-in. Joined by Laura Vollhardt, the five activists spent the next month planning and promoting the event.
Additionally, the action was endorsed by 17 different groups, including the Connecticut Green Party, True Colors, Inc. Sexual Minority Youth and Family Services, GetEQUAL, and the Connecticut branch of Socialist Action.
The die-in was followed by a march though Hartford and a rally back at the State Capitol, where Al Riccio and Kamora Herrington, head of the True Colors mentoring program, delivered speeches.
Aaron McAuliffe performed original poetry and then emceed an open mike, where many queer youth spoke out about personal struggles with transphobia and homophobia. The rally’s demands were as follows:
• More safe spaces and housing. Publicly-funded safe housing specifically for runaway, abused, and homeless queer youth.
• The right to self-defense. The right to protect ourselves and each other from abuse without repercussions. This includes intellectual, emotional, social, and physical self-defense.
• Equal access to education. Comprehensive programs in public schools on queer people/practices in history, art, science, religion, and literature. Honest sexual education that is inclusive of all genders and sexual identities as well access to informed counseling services.
All of the organizers are involved in planning future protests for queer rights in Connecticut and around the region.
> This article was originally published in the December 2010 print edition of Socialist Action newspaper.