Postie Courtland Milloy actually talked to some of those oh-so-fly kids who hang out at the Gallery Place Metro. Apparently, some of them are in a black gay gang (black velvet mafia?) called “Check It.” Tired of being attacked 3-to-1 by homophobes, 21-year-old Tayron Bennett formed the group to create some protection for other gay and gender queer youths.
Bennett was cryptic about the meaning of the gang’s name, saying only that it might have something to do with going to a nightclub and “checking your hat or coat.” Or gun? Or, he said, it might mean, “You better check yourself.”
Bennett had just been released from the D.C. jail when we spoke. He’d been arrested and charged with assault after a melee near Gallery Place earlier this year. But the charges were dropped the day he was scheduled to appear in court. Although happy to be free, he despaired over losing more time behind bars. He’d also gotten into a fight in jail and came out with a fresh scar on his scalp to show for it.
“I’m ready to go back to school and get my GED,” Bennett said. But he didn’t know where to start.
Milloy can’t help but take a shot at gay myopic little twits, though. He says that while the city is pretty friendly for affluent gay couples, young people like Bennett live in a different world—-one where mentorship and role models are missing.
Still, it’s too neat of a package that Milloy presents. In reality, there are a number of organizations in the city dedicated to supporting LGBTQ young people—-including the Sexual Minority Youth Assistance League, the Wanda Alston House, Us Helping Us, and several national groups that operate out of D.C.—-many of which are funded, in part, by contributions and taxes from twits.
That’s not to say all is well for black gay youth in the city. But things are just a little more complicated than the picture Milloy paints.