Last week, I wrote a piece about the Disarm Hate 2016 campaign, which has united LGBTQ groups with organizations committed to stopping gun violence in the wake of the massacre at Pulse nightclub in Orlando. During the New York City Pride parade, I spoke with Jason Hayes who led the coalition that marched behind a Disarm Hate banner and who has organized a rally in Washington, D.C. for August 13.
Between Pride and publication of my post, Disarm Hate 2016's mission evolved, Hayes said. According to its website, the campaign focuses on the simple goals of "equal human rights for the LGBTQ community" and "realistic gun reform," which includes a 50-state registry of gun owners and preventing individuals on the No-Fly List from owning or purchasing guns.
Hayes indicated that the campaign does not support taking weapons away from gun owners, despite the hatred he has encountered from opponents who seem to consider Disarm Hate an attack on their supposed Second Amendment rights.
"After [the previous] article, I received an email saying 'It was a shame AIDS didn't kill me as a fag, but hopefully a bullet would,'" Hates said. "As a gay man, I've dealt with that my whole life . . . I'm not wasting my time with trash like that."
Hayes said he has received numerous death threats in addition to tweets and emails calling him an "ISIS supporter" and other ignorant epithets. These alarming responses illustrate the hate that Hayes and his allies are fighting against in the first place.
"People send [hateful messages] because they're hoping they sting," he said. "I'm not arguing to take away guns or to take away anyone's Second Amendment rights. All I'm asking is that my rights are protected too."
Fortunately, Hayes said he has received much more support than backlash, especially on social media, which he said has the power to both expand the campaign and to provide comfort to individuals in moments of need.
"One person sharing information about the rally [on social media] can bring one hundred people to [Washington D.C.] or it can spread the message to one person and stop them from committing suicide because they can see they're not alone and that there's a huge community supporting them," he said.
Several anti-gun violence organizations and gay rights groups have pledged their support in the past week, Hayes added. Religious organizations like the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, D.C. and the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, also feature on the campaign's list of allies.
Hayes said that Disarm Hate recently started working with the National Action Alliance, which will host a rally in Washington D.C. on August 27, to launch Two Weeks to Affect History, a joint campaign that will include scores of "sister rallies" between the two demonstrations in Washington.
The Disarm Hate 2016 rally will likely begin at 11 am on August 13 on the Ellipse outside the White House, Hayes said. Individuals planning to attend should check the Disarm Hate 2016 website for updated information.
"We are truly in a battle with pure hate in this country," Hayes said. "We must learn to use our words when we disagree and not resort to violence."