Fear of people who are different is taught and only through education and personal experience will we learn that different is not scary. Different is simply new. Violence against people who identify with a non heterosexual orientation is one example of our worst human qualities. Thankfully people like Ian Quinn are educating those who are scared of differences to be respectful and tolerant of their neighbors, friends, and family who identify as LGBTQ. He also teaches self-defense to those who can so easily become victims of hate. He is a certified self defense instructor making positive change in our world through his program, Halt The Hate.
What was your inspiration or what necessitated you to begin this adventure? I grew up in a very open-minded and accepting Catholic household. One of my cousins “came out” when I was six years old. From then on I saw firsthand some of the violence and difficulties he faced. Through high school, college, and even in my personal life now I have seen family, friends, and community members victimized simply for who they love. No one has the right to hurt others unless in true self-defense. As a martial artist I feel it is my obligation to teach our loved ones how to defend themselves against hate crimes. The saying “with great power comes great responsibility” is the best way of explaining why.
What steps did you take to create your program? Research, research, and more research into hate crimes. I had to know the history, the various causes, the current political and social positions, and everything I could learn about the subject. A sort of self imposed Hate Crime 101 educational boot camp. My research did not just include reading books and pouring over volumes of educational resources, but also interviewing my gay and straight family, friends, and community members about their experiences with hate crimes.
What obstacles were you forced to overcome? The biggest obstacle was my own personal fears. I was afraid that if I took this stand with equality and taught others how to stand up and fight for their rights and fight against violence that there would be others who would disapprove of this. I was afraid of people knowing my stance on equality and hate groups would retaliate and send me death threats. But again with great power comes great responsibility. The power of the martial arts is why I teach. Once you experience this power it is impossible not to want to share it with others. I knew that if I allowed my fear to win and stop me, then I don’t understand fear. Fear is important, when it is in check it keeps us alive and alert.
Since overcoming this fear and making my stance I have had people question me on why I would create a self-defense program for the needs of the LGBTQ community I have received hateful emails and phone calls but it doesn’t matter. You have to do what is right.
What were the hardest problems to solve or actions to take? Breaking through social barriers and religious beliefs of individuals. The sad fact is less than 5% of hate crimes are committed by organized hate groups. That means normal everyday people commit these violence acts. We need to attack this situation from two directions: First, empower the individual to fight back against victimization. Secondly, help educate individuals on how to recognize their own prejudice and provide them with steps to overcome them.
What must you do to stay operational? We are constantly relying on our network of volunteers to keep this cause moving forward. It is always more powerful to have a network of like-minded passionate people who can connect you with their networks, thus expanding your outreach and impact.
Who, if anyone, helped you succeed? My wife has been my number one support. Also, everyone I meet and discuss this material with has helped me succeed with this program. To make a positive impact on hate crimes it requires more than one individual; it requires a community.
Do you have any advice for readers who want to get involved or start a similar program? I always welcome help and it’s very easy to get involved. The simplest way to get involved is to share this life saving knowledge with a local gay and lesbian resource center. Simply help us connect with these groups in your area and we’ll show how it’s done from there.
My advice for starting a similar program: There are so many ways we can help make this world a better place. It all starts with you. The talents, education, experiences, and resources you have will be a great source of inspiration as to what you can do to make a positive impact in this world. This may sound really simple but follow what you are passionate about and you will be amazed at what you can accomplish with patience.
Get involved with Ian’s work in teaching self-defense to the LGBTQ community.
This interview is from a book that includes 15 other amazing people who are creating positive change. You can read the full book and buy a copy for your school at Bookemon.com. Buy the e-book for 99 Cents on Amazon.com.