It was Saturday, the 18th of May, and I was sitting at my computer at work as usual. Going through my daily motions, very mundane. I clicked on twitter and saw a feed of a recent death of a fellow New Yorker the previous evening in the West Village of the city. The article mentioned that it occurred across the street from the Gray’s Papaya sometime late Friday evening. What first came to shock me was that my friend and I were at that same exact Papaya on the same night throwing shade at people. I believe that this only natural, for one person to internalize that pain. “Oh, I was just there.” “I drive down Kent Street everyday” “I always turn that machine off before work.” We’re very much in a society of me - I need to try and fix that. After a few seconds of me, the shock hit me that a man had just been killed.
The emotions just flooded in what I had just read. A homosexual male was murdered the previous night in the west village for allegedly being gay. Of all places, the west village. The west village has been a place for more than 40 years where LGBT people have been able to safely call home. Although we are open and free in the city, it is almost an inner wall - a place of even more peace and tranquility for us. A place in which we can feel free to be 100% us. It is very cliche to say that ‘I cannot believe this happened here..’ as that is the first thing you always hear come out of the person being interviewed on the local TV network, but, it is true. It is so hard to fathom, even now.
In the twitter mention, it said that there was going to be a candle light vigil the very same night at the corner of west 8th and 6th avenue where Mark Carson was fatally shot. I decided in that instance that I was going to go down there and show my support. I immediately took to social media outlets to alert my fellow friends of what was going on as I wasn’t hearing about this anywhere else except for small media outlets - it wasn’t getting covered.
After work I made my way down there and was met by a small crowd, maybe 30-40 people, it was just before midnight - the vigil was to begin at midnight. I got my camera out and began to photograph what I was seeing the best that I could. I really wasn’t able to get any good angles, after moving around the crowd a bit, I just took to one corner of the building. Soon more people began to arrive and there was becoming a presence. People were lighting candles and standing in solidarity. It was extremely somber and just didn’t feel right to have a camera in peoples face. I just leaned on the wall to take it all in. Somewhere after midnight a gentleman, Adam Feldman, took to a stand and began to speak; my camera raised. He stood up on a box and proclaimed no relation to Mark Carson but that our being there was important in support. After speaking for a few minutes he opened the floor to anyone who wanted to speak. What followed was so much words of grief, anger, and empathy that it went from shouting to tears with every honk of a passing taxi.
To say that I was a witness to something inspiring would be an understatement, it was truly powerful. It reminded me how powerful one single voice can be and when we all come together - a revolution. The energy, and the crowd, were overflowing by about 1a and I knew something was going to happen. There was this energy, just short of, marching and shouting down the street four our rights as humans. In closing, Feldman, mentioned of a march and rally coming May 20th at 5:30PM at the LGBT center in the village. Today as I checked social media, I noticed a much more vocal audience for Mark Carson and I feel that tomorrow there could be thousands of us standing in solidarity, not hundreds. I strongly encourage anyone in the metro area to attend and show your support for Mark Carson, those that have come before, and those that are scared to come out.
Last night reminded me very much of a video I came across about two years featuring the Rev. Al Sharpton speaking at the funeral of Mrs. Rosa Parks. There are so many incredible parts to this video and I hope you have watched it in the entirety. Basically, I want to echo that we do indeed have so much more now than we did 5, 10, 60 years ago but we’re doing so much less with what we have. We all know hundreds of people through social media and other outlets and have many other tools at our disposal, yet we are silent. We need to sand up together and in the face of violence say no more will we be a witness to such hate and ignorance and go about our day as if nothing had happened. The blood of one stains the blood of all. I really wish I had an ear to one of the organizers tomorrow as I am afraid that the rally tomorrow will just be that, a rally tomorrow and not a movement. I really hope that we can come together and use this energy and momentum in a positive way tomorrow and on. What a powerful statement would it be if thousands of us would symbolically lay down in the street with Mark Carson tomorrow - do you think they could walk over us as they do walk around us as we stand? Do you believe they could not notice us, our numbers if we stopped their very movement - their thoughts. Think of the attention we could bring to the cause beyond the West Village, but to Paris, Algiers, Santiago, and around the world. They would have to notice us!