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Residents Rally Against Violence and Gay Bashing

Yesterday, citizens took to the streets of East Baltimore to begin the New Year standing up against an issue that remains an unspoken taboo amongst the African American communities that turn a blind eye to gay bashing – and the ensuing violence that leaves members of the LGBT community battered, bruised and silent based on fear of retribution.

Led by a gay Baptist preacher, along with LGBT leaders such as Michael Brewer and Carrie Evans, a recent victim of this intolerable violence gave a voice to those too timid to take a stand, and stood strong against the forces attempting to tear him down. Levon 'Kenny' Shaw, the 30-year old gay man who was attacked on Christmas Eve while walking home from a local convenience store; stood on the steps of the location that landed him in shock trauma only weeks prior, and voiced his opposition to such cowardly actions.

“I refuse to allow these individuals to run me out of the neighborhood I love, or make me hide exactly who I am,” said Shaw, still visibly shaken by the incident. “It's about time we took a unified stance against this level of hatred and violence bred from the ignorance of some!”

Shaw, a 6'2” lanky and humble young man who works as a local beautician, set off fireworks on social media when we posted a contrast picture of him before the incident and one after the attack that left him almost unrecognizable. Posting it on Instagram, Shaw saw local gay activists like Kinji Scott – who led yesterday's rally – and WEAA Host Anthony McCarthy repost the photo on Twitter and Facebook, while encouraging their vast network of people to stand up against such violence.

“I felt that we could no longer allow such violence to come from these young punks without taking a stand for this young brother, and opening up a much needed and long overdue dialogue about homosexuality in the black community,” says Scott, who recently 'came out' himself and has been a vocal leader on gays and HIV/AIDS awareness. “We have too many people dictating the terms of our existence, and I refuse to live in the shadows of our society based on fear.”

Shaw was reportedly attacked by five unidentified young men upon leaving a local convenience store on Christmas Eve. He had been the subject of verbal abuse by some of these same young men weeks prior based on his sexuality, and felt that was the reason he was attacked that night.

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The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) is a civil rights organization dedicated to the empowerment of Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and same gender loving (LGBTQ/SGL) people, including people living with HIV/AIDS.