Community Safety Whistle Campaign for Western PA

If you have the mental and emotional fortitude to follow the news on a regular basis, you probably know that things aren’t great for the queer community right now. Anti-LGBTQ+ legislation is sweeping the nation and hate crime rates are up. According to a report from ACLED, a global nonprofit that monitors conflicts, “anti-LGBT+ mobilization…increased by over four times from 2020 to 2021” and their data indicates that 2022 is on track to be even worse.

Now our safe spaces here at home are being targeted, too. Staff at Central Outreach Wellness Center in Erie discovered their Pride flag burned when they were preparing to open on Thursday, July 21. Threats were made to a few Pittsburgh LGBTQ establishments the weekend of July 23. Some LGBTQ bars have decided to increase security including checking large bags and disallowing backpacks, something they’ve never had to do before. Reports of residential Pride flags being stolen, defaced, or burned in West Pittsburgh and an anti-trans stickering and graffiti campaign across the East End.

To help keep our community safe, QBurgh is resurrecting a classic, low-tech technique: the hate crime whistle. Utilized in the gay community in the 90’s and more recently in Asian American communities, whistles are a simple but effective approach that have proven successful in reducing the number of assaults and in helping to identify offenders. Whistles obviously do not replace the police but it draws attention to an aggressor and their behavior and is generally recognized as a clear sign to others that someone needs help, especially in a situation where you may not have your phone readily available.

QBurgh will be distributing these hate crime whistles across the Pittsburgh region at LGBTQ safe spaces and establishments. You can request a whistle or whistles for you or your organization at QBurgh.com/Safety. Also, please keep reading QBurgh for more tips on how to stay safe including the classic buddy system, remaining aware of your surroundings, basic self defense and more in the coming weeks.

Read more safety tips here

Please consider making a contribution to help cover the costs of the community safety whistle campaign.

Roy Gloeckl resides in the southern hills of Pittsburgh, performing communications specialties for a local university. He is a lifelong gaymer who has yet to “catch ‘em all.” He is an actor who wants to be a cartoon. And yeah, he totally has a favorite dinosaur. Follow him on Instagram and tell him yours.