City Desk

The Black Gay Gang At Gallery Place

Postie Courtland Milloy actually talked to some of those oh-so-fly kids who hang out at the Gallery Place Metro. Apparently, some of them are in a black gay gang (black velvet mafia?) called "Check It." Tired of being attacked 3-to-1 by homophobes, 21-year-old Tayron Bennett formed the group to create some protection for other gay and gender queer youths.

Bennett was cryptic about the meaning of the gang’s name, saying only that it might have something to do with going to a nightclub and “checking your hat or coat.” Or gun? Or, he said, it might mean, “You better check yourself.”

Bennett had just been released from the D.C. jail when we spoke. He’d been arrested and charged with assault after a melee near Gallery Place earlier this year. But the charges were dropped the day he was scheduled to appear in court. Although happy to be free, he despaired over losing more time behind bars. He’d also gotten into a fight in jail and came out with a fresh scar on his scalp to show for it.

“I’m ready to go back to school and get my GED,” Bennett said. But he didn’t know where to start.

Milloy can't help but take a shot at gay myopic little twits, though. He says that while the city is pretty friendly for affluent gay couples, young people like Bennett live in a different world—one where mentorship and role models are missing.

Still, it's too neat of a package that Milloy presents. In reality, there are a number of organizations in the city dedicated to supporting LGBTQ young people—including the Sexual Minority Youth Assistance League, the Wanda Alston House, Us Helping Us, and several national groups that operate out of D.C.—many of which are funded, in part, by contributions and taxes from twits.

That's not to say all is well for black gay youth in the city. But things are just a little more complicated than the picture Milloy paints.

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  • Bernard

    I really would like to meet this young man and help him if I can. I have a program, The HEARTS Program that might be of help to him and

  • SWMLuvah

    The cool, detached, and casual tone of the article is what bothers me. They're VIOLENT. Not "misunderstood". They can champion their cause without taking up weapons. 1) STOP GOING TO GALLERY PLACE and 2) GO TO SCHOOL OR GET A JOB!!!

  • Legba Carrefour

    Did people just notice this? Gallery Place is amazing because, despite it turning into a nasty-ass outdoor mall, like a lot of malls, it's managed to attract groups of openly queer kids all over the place. That shit is awesome and they dress fly and I'm so glad I can go somewhere in DC and see LGBT youth out being themselves and having fun.

    Shani: Yes, those organizations exists and thank god for them. But the reality is that the overwhelming majority of the LGBT activism in this city has been historically based around the marriage fight and the inconveniences faced by gay, established adults. We're still dealing with trans folks getting beaten for trying to take a dump in peace or getting murdered for just being outside and those organizations you mention are on tiny, tiny, TINY budgets compared to something like the HRC which sucks in nearly 50 million per year. That equal sticker you got from the HRC for donating doesn't mean shit.

    It's worth noting that our only LGBT center has seen its budget sliced and been forced to go hat in hand to a major developer to beg for space, only to get kicked out every few years.

  • JGK

    While Milloy often is an idiot, please note that he actually went down there, found these kids and talked to them; what we used to call journalism. If you don't like the piece he wrote, go do a better one. I guarantee there's a whole series of stories related to this one.

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