The recent and deplorable wave of violence in Laguna Beach directed toward gay men presents the entire community with an opportunity to learn and to act.
Feeling justifiably threatened, the organized gay and lesbian community is working closely with owners of gay-oriented businesses, the police and city officials to address the situation. Police protection in the area has been increased, Mayor Pro Tem Robert Gentry has brought us together in meetings, and plans are moving ahead for education, prevention and data-collection programs.
But the threat extends beyond the lesbian and gay community; it's a concern for the community at large. After all, gay men don't wear identifying uniforms or badges, so anyone unfortunate enough to be in the wrong place at the right time could become a victim of this hate-motivated violence. And, as long as any of us is threatened with rape, assault or any other violent crime, none of us are safe.
It would be a mistake, as some suggest, to take defensive actions like closing the park at night (a physical impossibility anyway), or discouraging gay businesses. In effect, that would be giving in to terrorists. Looking at it another way, we don't close banks because they attract robbers.