Turning a negative experience into positive action
You might recall the story of Anthony Niedwiecki, a law professor in Florida who, along with his partner Waymon Hudson, experienced an anti-gay incident at the Fort Lauderdale airport when its PA system was hijacked by a man who started quoting Leviticus 20:13 (my post: Homobigotry in terminal 3).
At approximately 12:45 am, my partner and I were in the baggage claim area in terminal 3. We had just arrived from Chicago and were waiting for our bags when an announcement came over the intercom. It basically said that “a man who lies with another man as he would a woman is subject to death.” We couldn’t believe what we heard, and then it came over the intercom again a few minutes later. We were shaken by the announcement because it specifically said “subject to death”.
As a result of this incident, Niedwiecki’s formed a support/activism site for individuals faced with discrimination. His email to me is after the jump.From his email:
First, I wanted to thank you again for all of your help with covering the airport incident a couple of months ago. As a result of the stories on your page and the efforts of your readers, we were able to move the police and airport officials to take some action. Since the intense media coverage, however, we have received hate mail and my partner has been spit on and called fag when he has been out in public. More importantly, we have received lots of support and thanks from around the country for pushing the issue and taking a stand.
The entire incident showed us how important it is to take a stand and not let people get away with attacks on our community. Too often, we brush off hateful comments and cases of discrimination. To help others and to work on countering hate and discrimination against our community, we decided to start a non-profit organization to guide others who are not sure what to do when they are faced with some form of hate or discrimination. We learned a great deal through our incident, and we wanted to pass along some of those lessons.
The new non-profit, Fight OUT Loud, Inc., is an web-based support system. You can go to www.fightoutloud.org to see how it works. The web site has three basic functions: to use our experience as a guide for individuals who find themselves in similar situations, to provide advice and support on how to confront incidents and roadblocks that they may encounter, and to set up an action email alert system to mobilize our community and its supporters when immediate action is required. We found no real organization that was available to help people who face individual incidents of discrimination or hate. Most organizations tend to work toward legislative or legal goals, with no real support for the everyday discrimination that individuals confront.
In order for the organization to work, we need to try to get as many people as possible to become aware of the organization and it’s services, as well as to be on the email alert system. In just a couple of days since we launched the web site, we already have over 400 members on the email action system. This just proves to us the need and interest in what we are trying to do. If you could pass along a link (www.fightoutloud.org ) and information about our organization to your readers, I would be most thankful. People can also add us to their myspace friend list. It can be found at www.myspace.com/fightoutloud. We are also in the process of applying for 501c(3) charitable status, which would make all sponsorship and donations tax-deductible.