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
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.
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