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Die-in demands end to anti-LGBTQ bigotry

Published Jan 29, 2011 9:29 AM

“We gather here to peacefully assert our love and our freedom, but also to remember our dead.”

A group of people, ranging in age from 15 to 60, banded together on Dec. 18 to stage a die-in for lesbian, gay, bi, trans and queer liberation at the Westfarms Mall in Farmington, Conn. Thousands of shoppers were going about their business in the halls of the central Connecticut mall only to be taken by surprise when shouts rang out around them. The leaders of the Queer Liberation Front, Al Riccio and Aaron McAuliffe, began to read a speech aloud, bringing shoppers to a stunned halt.

As McAuliffe began her part of the speech, members of the organization fell to the floor and remained motionless for several minutes in commemoration of their fallen allies in the struggle for LGBTQ rights. Armed with nothing more than printed copies of their speeches and plastic cones substituting for megaphones, the message of peace, love and equality was carried throughout the mall to be heard by hundreds of people.

The speech was a reminder of the equality inherent in the definition of “human” and an effective commentary on the harassment and inequality that LGBTQ people face in their daily lives. “We are denied the right to exist. We are denied the right to express our love for each other and to express our true gender identities. We are denied the right to be happy and healthy first-class citizens,” read McAuliffe. LGBTQ youths are four to eight times more likely to commit suicide than their peers, as well as three times more likely to use drugs and alcohol.

The speech went on for seven-and-a-half minutes without interruption. The shoppers looked on in confusion for the first few minutes. However, the entire crowd broke into applause when a homemade banner listing the QLF’s demands was dropped from a second floor railing. It read: “Dear Santa, Our holiday wishes: end trans/homophobia; safe schools; self-defense without penalty; CT gender identity nondiscrimination bill. Love, Queer Liberation Front.” A second banner with LGBTQ suicide statistics was also displayed.

At the end of the speech a list of names was read to symbolize the grave cost of being queer in the U.S. Each name that was read was a person who had been a victim of a hate crime or suicide. As the list was being read, security officers attempted to stop the protest. Two officers confiscated the speeches and artificial megaphones. The people who lay on the ground stood up, and McAuliffe and Riccio began to chant, “L-G-B-T, we demand equality.” QLF members picked up the chant and marched out of the mall, as jeers and cheers, compliments and insults surrounded them.