'I was shaken': Gay NY broadcaster fears new 'threats of violence'

'I was shaken': Gay NY broadcaster fears new 'threats of violence'
A gay pride gathering in 2019 (Creative Commons)

In late August, Canadian government officials in Ottawa warned gay and transgender Canadians about traveling to parts of the United States —where, they warned, laws that could negatively affect them have been passed. The officials emphasized the need to know the laws of any U.S. states they plan to visit.

In an op-ed published by The Guardian on September 1, New York State-based broadcast journalist Dan Clark (who hosts the program "New York NOW" for PBS affiliate WMHT-TV) argues that Canada's warning was totally justified. Clark laments that in 2023, anti-gay attitudes from the far right are now causing him to fear for his safety.

"When I came out of the closet in rural Upstate New York almost two decades ago," Clark explains, "I never thought I'd go back in. I was wrong. In the last few months, I've started to change my appearance to accommodate a growing hostility toward the LGBTQ+ community in the U.S. — even in New York, a state often touted as a beacon for queer communities."

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Clark cites specific incidents that trouble him.

"I started to change how I present myself in public this spring, when someone approached my open car window in traffic, screamed a slur in my face, and walked away without another thought," the broadcaster notes. "I was shaken…. Laura Ann Carleton, a 66-year-old woman from California, was shot dead in August after her killer took issue with an LGBTQ+ pride flag that was hung outside the store she'd owned and operated for the last decade."

Clark continues, "She had a husband and a family. At least 15 transgender and gender non-conforming people have been violently killed this year alone, according to data compiled by the Human Rights Campaign, in some cases in possible hate crimes."

The broadcast journalist points out that "threats of violence against the LGBTQ+ community," according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), "have been on the rise."

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"The agency even warned that public spaces, and healthcare sites, could be the site of an attack," Clark laments. "And now, Canada is warning its LGBTQ+ residents that some states in the U.S. have enacted laws and policies that may affect them, creating a new, unspoken guidance for our queer neighbors to the north: be careful."

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Read Dan Clark's full op-ed for The Guardian at this link.

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