Five months have passed since Pedro Martins’ gay twin brother, Durval Martins, was shot and killed at the corner of 11th and Q Streets NW while walking home from the 17th Street NW strip of gay venues where he worked and socialized. Pedro, who is also gay, is concerned that since the Dec. 16 shooting of his brother there have been no arrests and little new information. So he contacted GLOV, Gays and Lesbians Opposing Violence, asking for help.
”Pedro called out of concern that the case still has not been solved,” says GLOV co-chair Chris Farris. ”We would like to both renew interest in that case, and to the issue of hate crimes in general.”
To do that, GLOV — re-formed last autumn after a hiatus of about a decade, in the wake of several violent attacks on members of the gay community — is organizing a candlelight vigil and march for 7 p.m., Tuesday, May 19, starting at the Reeves Center courtyard at the corner of 14 and U Streets NW. The march will move from there to the intersection of 11th and Q Streets NW, where Durval Martins was killed. GLOV has asked that those attending wear white.
Though Farris could not yet confirm speakers for the vigil, he did say that Pedro Martins plans to attend.
”It’s going to be just a few speakers,” Farris says. ”We don’t want this to turn into a political rally. It’s just to renew attention, public interest, and make sure that folks are paying attention.”
Farris and GLOV co-chair Todd Metrokin also hope the Metropolitan Police Department is paying attention. The duo met with Mayor Adrian Fenty and Police Chief Cathy Lanier in January, asking Lanier to speak to the city’s GLBT community.
”One of the things that we asked her to do was to present to the community what her department is doing to address violence in general, what they’re doing to address hate crimes in particular, and also what her plans are for staffing and managing the [Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit of the MPD],” Metrokin says.
Lanier is scheduled to speak during a June 2 forum.
”It’s an opportunity for the community to ask her questions,” says Metrokin. “It’s an opportunity for her to address any issues or concerns in the community. Overall, it’s just an opportunity for all of us to continue open dialogue.”
GLOV is also getting some help from Addison Road, one of the “houses” in the Academy of Washington, a civic and social organization of gender illusionists. On June 21, the Academy will present the “Glitter Gala” as a fundraiser for GLOV.
”I’m a huge fan of drag,” Farris says, ”and [Addison Road] came to us. I will be one the most enthusiastic attendees. I’m very excited about it. We’re extremely appreciative.”
With the Glitter Gala and other events, such as February’s Scarlet Bake Sale at the DC Eagle, which raised $7,000 for GLOV, Farris says he’s grateful for the community’s support.
”We’ve never had a fundraiser that we did ourselves,” he says. ”We’ve been fortunate enough, to this point, to have had other community groups have fundraisers and offer for us to be the beneficiary.”
GLOV, which is a volunteer-based effort, could use the help.
”We are concerned about some of the rhetoric that we are hearing in connection with the marriage debate in D.C.,” says Farris. ”Many studies have shown that over the years rhetoric that occurs in connection with civil-rights issues can often lead to hate crimes against the target of that rhetoric. So we are urging people who oppose marriage [equality] to be careful in their choice of words while expressing their viewpoints.
”Unnecessarily harsh words are being used that can be interpreted by some as a green light for violence.”
MPD Chief Cathy Lanier will speak Tuesday, June 2, at the Foundry United Methodist Church, 1500 16th St. NW, at 6 p.m. The Academy of Washington presents the Glitter Gala Sunday, June 21, from 2 to 3 p.m. at Ziegfeld’s/Secrets, 1824 Half St. SW. Admission is $10.