Op-ed: Gay rights, gun rights cross here

Editor's Note: Self-described "gun bigot" Roberta de Boer accepted an invitation to a Toledo firing range. She may not have come away a convert (yet?), but personal interactions like these with uninformed journalists are important, and we hope they occur more in the future.

January 21, 2007

By Roberta de Boer

We'd been shooting for a while by the time the amiable chatting started up.

This was Friday morning at the pistol range, where it was Sean Spradlin, me, and some other guy firing in another lane.

Sean and the other guy began the obligatory small talk that often crops up when strangers share a small space. Turned out both men are truck drivers, although Mr. Spradlin currently works as a security guard. And, of course, both men obviously enjoy shooting guns.

"I just started a gun club, actually," said Mr. Spradlin, 36.

"Oh, yeah?" the other guy said.

"Yeah, it's for gays and lesbians and bisexuals and transexuals," he said, quickly adding that anyone could join.

"Yeah? Really. OK," the other guy said. He paused briefly and, before returning his attention to the target, said neutrally: "Hmm. Interesting."

Conversation over.

Well, maybe the commingling of gay rights and gun rights is unexpected, but that's the aim of the Pink Pistols. As the national organization's Web site (pinkpistols.org) explains:

"Socially, the [gay] and shooting communities are both quite similar. Both are often insular and can be closeted, and both have a stereotypical preconceptions about what the other is like."

Pink Pistols was formed in 2000 by a Boston dot.com engineer for both social and self-defense purposes. Its Web site lists five Ohio chapters, including the nascent Toledo group now being organized by Mr. Spradlin, who explained his initial interest by reciting a Pink Pistols motto:

Armed gays don't get bashed.

Click here to read the entire op-ed in the Toledo Blade.

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