Two gay men in Atlanta targeted for their sexual orientation in violent attacks want to help other victims of hate crimes find compassion and a safe space to cope with the aftermath of what happened to them.
So LGBT activists Rev. Josh Noblitt and Duncan Teague, a Unitarian Universalist candidate for ministry, launched We Are Surviving Together last month at Saint Mark United Methodist Church. It’s a ministry for other LGBT people targeted in hate crimes.
“We hope that by convening a safe space for men who have experienced this kind of violence, we will call forth a new level of healing found only through sharing our experiences together,” says Noblitt, who is also a counselor.
Noblitt and his then-boyfriend were assaulted and robbed at gunpoint in July 2010 as they enjoyed a picnic in Piedmont Park. Noblitt later stood with some of his attackers as they were sentenced in October 2011 to show that he had forgiven them.
Noblitt (photo) didn’t stay a victim for long. He later organized a popular public photo shoot for the NOH8 Campaign, talked about the healing process (video below), joined the LGBT advisory board for Atlanta police, delivered an invocation for Mayor Kasim Reed and joined with dozens of gay friends and supporters to reclaim the very spot in Piedmont where the attack took place.
Teague says he was attacked several years ago in the French Quarter of New Orleans, suffering injuries that included a broken leg. Like Noblitt, he couldn’t find resources to help guide him through the aftermath of the attacks. So now, they are forming We Are Surviving Together, which held its first meeting on Jan. 20. The group meets again on Feb. 17 as well as March 3 and 17 from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Saint Mark in Midtown.
“It is hard to believe that in a city with such a large LGBT population that there aren’t several groups dealing with bias crimes,” Teague says.