A New Intersectionality: Bi Gun Control Activist is Also President of School's GSA

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Thursday February 22, 2018

In a new and important riff on intersectionality, the bisexual president of the Gay-Straight Alliance at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. - the site of last week's horrific school shooting, in which 17 victims died - is now also a newly-minted gun control advocate.

A profile on 18-year-old Emma González in the Washington Post said that the youthful leader "has been among the most prominent of the crop of student activists thrust onto the national stage in the wake of" last week's tragedy. "The activists have done a wave of interviews, petitioned lawmakers in Tallahassee and served as a major part of a CNN gun violence town hall," the profile added.

The outspokenness of the survivors from last week's mass shooting led to a meeting between President Trump and bereft family members, youthful survivors, and others traumatized by the nation's plague of gun violence. Many in the meeting were both supportive of the president and deeply disturbed by a lack of government action.

González' advocacy has drawn support, including that of another once-teenaged activist, Neil Willenson, a native of Grafton, Wis., whose long career stretches back to when, at the age of 15, he worked to alleviate homelessness. That was years before he created the inclusive Camp Heartland (the name of which has since changed to One Heartland) in his early 20s as a response to a young child, born with HIV, being turned away from a summer camp.

"Because of the inaction, ineptitude, greed and silence of our political leaders, power brokers and everyday Americans like me, you are now leading a movement that should have been led by adults years ago," Willenson wrote in an open letter to González that was published in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

But the response to González and her fellow advocates for sensible gun regulations has not all been laudatory. In a twisted and diabolical slander covered by the New York Times and other publications, right-wing gun control foes branded the teens who are now speaking out as "crisis actors" who have been hired to spread a falsified story of gun violence. Some on the extreme right have even suggested that the shooting was a "false flag" operation in which young people were mowed down by gun control proponents to advance a political agenda.

The politicization of the tragedy didn't end there. The BBC reported that one Republican congresswoman, Claudia Tenney (R-New York), went so far as to claim that "people that commit the mass murders end up being Democrats."

Right-wing poster boy Samuel Wurzelbacher, a.k.a. Joe the Plumber, wrote an open letter of his own in which he told the grieving parents of slain Florida students that "your dead kids don't trump my Constitutional rights" to own guns.

Meantime, in what looked like an effort to appear busy doing something more substantial than offering "thoughts and prayers," Florida state lawmakers hastened to approve a bill that would require posting the slogan "In God We Trust" in public schools.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.