By Piper Smith
On June 12th, 2016, a deranged individual murdered 49 Americans and wounded 58 in a combination terrorist attack/hate crime inside a nightclub in Orlando, Florida. He was eventually shot and killed by law enforcement after a three-hour delay.
This was the deadliest incident of violence against LGBT Americans in US history and the worst terrorist attack since September 11th, 2001.
It was also when I knew I needed to step up and get involved.
When I ‘came out’ as a member of the LGBT community in late 2015 I began to experience hate from my fellow Americans. This was a new experience for me, and a horrifying one at that. Prior to coming out I was vaguely aware of the claims of discrimination and danger that the LGBT community faced. To be quite honest, I never took it too seriously or knew much about the brutal reality of just how dangerous it can be to simply be different even in our modern 21st-century United States.
I have been verbally and physically harassed. I have been shunned. I have been shamed. I have been ostracized. I have had to fight to keep employment even while being a top nationwide producer. It can be very rough out there for LGBT Americans with some regions being much worse than others.
Responsible firearm ownership and a strong self-defense/self-reliance mindset doesn’t fix or address all systemic injustices, but they can certainly help even the playing field against misguided dangerous hate-filled individuals.
When I founded Armed Equality after Orlando I had no real plan or idea where to take it. I simply saw that the LGBT community was a soft target and something needed to be done. My group is the first I am aware of to incorporate advanced armed, unarmed, survival, and medical training into the mix.
When I founded Armed Equality after Orlando I had no real plan or idea where to take it. I simply saw that the LGBT community was a soft target and something needed to be done. My group is the first I am aware of to incorporate advanced pistol/shotgun/rifle, unarmed, survival, and medical training into the mix.
I often wonder how differently Orlando could have played out if even 2% had been carrying and able to fight back with force during those ~3 hours trapped inside while law enforcement waited outside. Even if no one had been carrying, what if even 5% of those inside had individual first aid kits strapped to their ankles or in their purses?
Anything and everything that strengthens the bodies and minds of good Americans seeking to live their lives peacefully, free from fear of hate, is what I am passionate about.
We hold the most diverse events you will likely ever see. When you can hold an impromptu Memorial Day BBQ at a local park and have roughly fifty Americans from every race, age, gender, political affiliation, and life experience intermingling peacefully and respectfully in our divisive and polarized society, we know we’re on to something. When the middle-aged white guy in the red MAGA cap can have a beer with the African American Bernie supporter while the local III% leader chats and cooks a burger with a trans-woman, you know your mission is a virtuous one.
In the last few years while building this group I have appeared on local, national, and international media ranging from local live news discussing my opposition to anti-2A legislation, Comedy Central in defense of firearm ownership, Australian VICE News in defense of the Second Amendment and in a variety print and online articles.
When I show up with well-articulated, pro-2A arguments draped in a rainbow Gadsden flag with my girlfriend because it causes the anti-2A media default narratives to short circuit. It’s always amusing to witness. And trust me, it’s always a good time when you get to tell anti-2A LGBT folk to ‘check their privilege’ and consider that just because they live in an area where they feel safe doesn’t mean that all LGBT Americans have the same luxury.
Here in Southern California I work closely with San Diego County Gun Owners the Firearms Policy Coalition, and California Rifle & Pistol Association. I have reached out and vetted local instructors for LGBT inclusiveness and regular facilitate epic training events with Active Shooter Defense School, Defensive Tactics & Firearms, and XSA International.
While we’ve encountered our fair share of haters in the more conservative pockets of the 2A community, I can also say that some of the worst hate we experience comes from misguided elements within the LGBT community itself. That said, I have been pleasantly surprised to discover that the vast majority of LGBT individuals are not well represented by some of the small, but loud professional activists; many of whom have slowly but surely come around to understanding our perspectives in defense of liberty and self reliance.
I am a firm believer in the Constitution and have studied its ideological origins extensively. From the bottom of my soul I know that this nation should strive to protect all of its citizens equally in their pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness. At the end of the day LGBT and non-LGBT Americans share the same hopes, dreams, struggles, and triumphs in life. I believe it is our duty to remember this in these times of hyper-partisanship.
“We The People” means everyone, so come join the most fun, diverse, non-partisan, self-defense/Second Amendment community in the United States. We are vigilant and empathetic Americans, and our country needs a lot more of us.
Armed Equality is building a strong and inclusive community of diverse individuals who seek the skills needed to defend their lives. We are dedicated to the defense and protection of all Americans, from all walks of life; especially targeted minorities.
As I say repeatedly, I don’t love firearms per se, I love the micro and macro human liberty they provide and protect.
You don’t need to be LGBT to join, only LGBT and 2A friendly! Find us here: