Sunday: Rally To Protest Gay Bashings

This Sunday in Queens, the NYC Anti-Violence Project and others will rally to protest a recent spate of gay bashings around the city.

Leslie Mora, 30, was attacked June 19 in Jackson Heights by two men who shouted anti-gay slurs and hurled a belt at her, cops said. Less than three weeks later, on July 8, Carmella Etienne, 22, was pelted with rocks and beer bottles by two other men in St. Albans, police said. The suspects also threatened to cut her throat. In response to the attacks, the Queens gay community has scheduled a rally Sunday to raise awareness about violence against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. The rally, to start at 2 p.m. in front of the Jackson Heights Post Office at 37th Ave. and 78th St., is the first of several events being planned on the issue. “We want to show people that transgender people still fight for survival,” said local transgender activist Melissa Sklarz of Woodside. “With these two attacks in Queens, it forces us to reexamine our relationship with our neighborhoods.

Anti-Violence Project executive director Sharon Stapel notes that the summer of 2009 has been particularly bad, with over 80 gay-related instances of violence or harassment reported to her organization over the last two months.