After Orlando, This Pro-Gun LGBT Group Quintupled In Size

And most of the newbies are straight “allies” with their own agenda

Ever since the June 12 massacre at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, a pro-gun LGBT club known as Pink Pistols has become something of a media obsession. While a majority of LGBT organizations, including the Human Rights Campaign (the largest LGBT civil rights advocacy group in the country), have adopted a platform lobbying for gun control legislation, the Libertarian-leaning Pistols have taken the opposite approach since their foundation back in 2000. “Pick on someone your own caliber,” goes the group’s motto. Pink Pistols aim to train and arm every willing LGBT person so they can exercise their “natural right to self-defense”—a platform that, while not as inflexibly aggressive as the NRA’s, more closely aligns with pro-Second Amendment groups than most prominent LGBT organizations.

Meme posted in
Pink Pistols Facebook group

In traditional Libertarian fashion, Pink Pistols’ approximately 40 active chapters operate independently, according to their own rules. There are meetups at gun ranges. There are group training sessions. A manual to setup and operate a new chapter is provided through the Pink Pistols website, yet it’s more suggestive—this is what’s worked, this is what hasn’t—than a blueprint to follow. Membership in the club is more of an act of spirit and mind than one of paying dues, getting a t-shirt, or even lobbying. Whisper “I’m a Pink Pistol” with conviction and you’re in—making it tough to track just how many Pink Pistols members are out there in the real world.

[quote position="right" is_quote="true"]We are mixing oil and water, so to speak. [But] I'm glad we have straight allies.[/quote]

But the club’s public Facebook group is a different story. In a statement to the Guardian, spokesperson Gwen Patton stated that before the Orlando shooting, there were 1,500 members. As of publication, membership has nearly quintupled to 7,179. And, it turns out, many of those new members are non-LGBT white people offering to help by organizing new chapters, reviving dormant ones, or providing basic firearm training to LGBT people who want to learn how to defend themselves.

Nicki Stallard, a transgender woman and head of the Pink Pistols’ San Jose chapter since 2006, welcomes those new voices. “We are mixing oil and water, so to speak,” she told me. “Some people have thin skins; it goes both ways. I'm glad we have straight allies. We don't have many in the LGBT community with the knowledge and skills to ramp up training to save our lives. Not dealing with straights who want to help us is stupid. The cost of people not getting training means more people will get injured or killed.”

But for longstanding members like Diane Moor, many of the new online supporters are drowning out the voices that have been there since long before Orlando. “After what began as very positive support and offers to teach after Orlando, many of the newer, non-LGBT members here have taken over the discourse—an invasion and conquest of the culture and atmosphere here,” she wrote. “Are you here for support, to convert the ‘natives’ to your whole outlook as conquerors, or just to inflate the membership numbers to create an illusion of LGBT support for your whole agenda? I'm strongly pro [Second Amendment], but hate the silencing of LGBT concerns which were also a core part of the reason we LGBT folks became members.”

[quote position="left" is_quote="true"]Are you here for support... or just to inflate membership numbers to create an illusion of LGBT support for your whole agenda?[/quote]

I asked Stallard if it was lonely being a Pink Pistol member pre-Orlando—a minority within a minority—but she said that, no matter what happened, her community remained steady. “Not lonely at all, truthfully,” she told me. “Things have just gotten more interesting; more interest than in ten years.”

Robert Shelton, a self-identified heterosexual cisgender white male, found the group after it was trending on Facebook. He’s an instructor in pistols, rifles, and “personal protection” both in and outside the home, as well as a range safety officer for the International Defensive Pistol Association. He joined the group in solidarity of their Libertarian, pro-Second Amendment political stance. “I believe everyone has the right to be free in their person, and has the right to protect that right by any means necessary,” he told me. “The government should get out of marriages, gun safes, holsters, pot farms, and rainwater barrels.”

Yet other new members, in a borderline hilarious display of privilege, felt disrespected by the group’s focus on LGBT people. “As a straight ally, I don't feel very welcome in this group,” said short-lived member Sonya Webb. “I have only commented a couple of times offering help. Everyday I see posts complaining about my presence. If you don't want allies in the group then decide once and for all so we aren't constantly targeted.”

“Leaving Pink Pistols,” posted another user named Joseph White. “I think I may, though well intentioned, be part of the problem.”

According to the FBI, nearly 20 percent of hate crimes take place because of sexual orientation. That’s second only to race. The Orlando massacre might be a wakeup call to some, but LGBT people have always lived with a constant threat to their personal safety. No matter how you feel about gun rights, it’s no surprise that targets of hate crimes would gravitate toward individual defense, that arming and defending themselves becomes a more reasonable option than waiting for a historically-divided government to take action on their behalf.

“Three of my friends who were previously anti-gun have contacted me about getting guns,” wrote a Pink Pistol member named Andrew Greene. Given the last two weeks, I wouldn’t be surprised if that number continues to rise.

via Thomas Ledia / Wikimedia Commons

On April 20, 1889 at the Braunau am Inn, in Upper Austria Salzburger located at Vorstadt 15, Alois and Klara Hitler brought a son into the world. They named him Adolph.

Little did they know he would grow up to be one of the greatest forces of evil the world has ever known.

The Hitlers moved out of the Braunau am Inn when Adolph was three, but the three-story butter-colored building still stands. It has been the subject of controversy for seven decades.

via Thomas Ledia / Wikimedia Commons

The building was a meeting place for Nazi loyalists in the 1930s and '40s. After World War II, the building has become an informal pilgrimage site for neo-Nazis and veterans to glorify the murderous dictator.

The building was a thorn in the side to local government and residents to say the least.

RELATED: He photographed Nazi atrocities and buried the negatives. The unearthed images are unforgettable.

For years it was owned by Gerlinde Pommer, a descendant of the original owners. The Austrian government made numerous attempts to purchase it from her, but to no avail. The building has served many purposes, a school, a library, and a makeshift museum.

In 1989, a stone from the building was inscribed with:

"For Peace, Freedom

and Democracy.

Never Again Fascism.

Millions of Dead Remind [us]."

via Jo Oh / Wikimedia Commons

For three decades it was home to an organization that offered support and integration assistance for disabled people. But in 2011, the organization vacated the property because Pommer refused to bring it up to code.

RELATED: 'High Castle' producers destroyed every swastika used on the show and the video is oh-so satisfying

In 2017, the fight between the government and Pommer ended with it seizing the property. Authorities said it would get a "thorough architectural remodeling is necessary to permanently prevent the recognition and the symbolism of the building."

Now, the government intends to turn it into a police station which will surely deter any neo-Nazis from hanging around the building.

Austria has strict anti-Nazi laws that aim to prohibit any potential Nazi revival. The laws state that anyone who denies, belittles, condones or tries to justify the Nazi genocide or other Nazi crimes against humanity shall be punished with imprisonment for one year up to ten years.

In Austria the anti-Nazi laws are so strict one can go to prison for making the Nazi hand salute or saying "Heil Hitler."

"The future use of the house by the police should send an unmistakable signal that the role of this building as a memorial to the Nazis has been permanently revoked," Austria's IInterior Minister, Wolfgang Peschorn said in a statement.

The house is set to be redesigned following an international architectural competition.

Center for American Progress Action Fund

Tonight's Democratic debate is a must-watch for followers of the 2020 election. And it's a nice distraction from the impeachment inquiry currently enveloping all of the political oxygen in America right now.

For most people, the main draw will be newly anointed frontrunner Pete Buttigieg, who has surprisingly surged to first place in Iowa and suddenly competing in New Hampshire. Will the other Democrats attack him? How will Elizabeth Warren react now that she's no longer sitting alone atop the primary field? After all, part of Buttigieg's rise has been his criticisms of Warren and her refusal to get into budgetary specifics over how she'd pay for her healthcare plan.

The good news is that Joe Biden apparently counts time travel amongst his other resume-building experience.

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via Mike Mozart / Flickr

Chick-fil-A is the third-largest fast food chain in America, behind McDonald's and Starbucks, raking in over $10 billion a year.

But for years, the company has faced boycotts for supporting anti-LGBT charities, including the Salvation Army, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and the Paul Anderson Youth Home.

The Salvation Army faced criticism after a leader in the organization implied that gay people "deserve to die" and the company also came under fire after refusing to offer same-sex couples health insurance. But the organization swears it's evolving on such issues.

via Thomas Hawk / Flickr

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes explicitly announced it was anti gay marriage in a recent "Statement of Faith."

God instituted marriage between one man and one woman as the foundation of the family and the basic structure of human society. For this reason, we believe that marriage is exclusively the union of one man and one woman.

The Paul Anderson Youth Home teaches boys that homosexuality is wrong and that same-sex marriage is "rage against Jesus Christ and His values."

RELATED: The 1975's singer bravely kissed a man at a Dubai concert to protest anti-LGBT oppression

In 2012, Chick-fil-A's CEO, Dan Cathy, made anti same-sex marriage comments on a radio broadcast:

I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, "We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage". I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.

But the chicken giant has now decided to change it's says its charitable donation strategy because it's bad for business...Not because being homophobic is wrong.

The company recently lost several bids to provide concessions in U.S. airports. A pop-up shop in England was told it would not be renewed after eight days following LGBTQ protests.

Chick-fil-A also has plans to expand to Boston, Massachusetts where its mayor, Thomas Menino, pledged to ban the restaurant from the city.

via Wikimedia Commons

"There's no question we know that, as we go into new markets, we need to be clear about who we are," Chick-fil-A President and Chief Operating Officer Tim Tassopoulos told Bisnow. "There are lots of articles and newscasts about Chick-fil-A, and we thought we needed to be clear about our message."

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Instead, the Chick-fil-A Foundation plans to give $9 million to organizations that support education and fight homelessness. Which is commendable regardless of the company's troubled past.

"If Chick-Fil-A is serious about their pledge to stop holding hands with divisive anti-LGBTQ activists, then further transparency is needed regarding their deep ties to organizations like Focus on the Family, which exist purely to harm LGBTQ people and families," Drew Anderson, GLAAD's director of campaigns and rapid response, said in a statement.

Chick-fil-A's decision to back down from contributing to anti-LGBT charities shows the power that people have to fight back against companies by hitting them where it really hurts — the pocket book.

The question remains: If you previously avoided Chick-fil-A because it supported anti-LGBT organizations, is it now OK to eat there? Especially when Popeye's chicken sandwich is so good people will kill for it?

via Gage Skidmore / Flickr and nrkbeta / flickr

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) dropped a bombshell on Tuesday, announcing it had over 900 emails that White House aide Stephen Miller sent to former Breitbart writer and editor Katie McHugh.

According to the SPLC, in the emails, Miller aggressively "promoted white nationalist literature, pushed racist immigration stories and obsessed over the loss of Confederate symbols after Dylann Roof's murderous rampage."

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