Protesters shrouded in white walked Sunday between two Fire Island communities to call for stricter gun control in the wake of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.
Led by a disco ball carried on a 12-foot pole, 28 members of Gays Against Guns marched through Fire Island Pines and along the beach in silence while others from the group passed out fliers and collected donations from sunbathers.
“This is one of the big gay meccas and we’re reaching out to friendly faces for fundraising, membership building and to build passion,” said Tim Murphy, of Brooklyn, spokesman for the group which formed last month after a gunman opened fire in a gay Orlando, Florida, nightclub, killing 49 people.
Kevin Hertzog, a 51-year-old set designer from Chelsea who co- founded the group, said they sought to build on momentum from last weekend’s march in New York City’s Pride Parade.
Supporters gathered before noon Sunday at the bayside Fire Island Pines house of Scott Reidel, pinning veils onto hats and putting on makeup. Those handing out fliers wore shirts with anti-NRA slogans.
Michael Angelo, 45 of Jersey City, explained to the volunteers that they would march behind the disco ball because those who died in Orlando died in the “sacred space” of the nightclub, which was a refuge for many gay youth.
Jim Fouratt, 75, a Manhattan co-founder of Act-Up, an advocacy group for people with AIDS, was one of those veiled. He said the shrouds “are a way we remember. We say no more. After 20 years of inaction, no more.”
As the group walked the mile and a half toward Cherry Grove, beachgoers applauded and used cellphone cameras to capture the scene.
Daniel Moreno, 51, and Robert Williams, 59, both of Manhattan’s West Village, applauded.
“This was an attack on the gay community,” Moreno said of the Orlando shooting.
“It’s not a downer, it’s a reminder,” Williams said of Sunday’s march.
Gays Against Guns wants to reinstitute the assault weapons ban, close loopholes in background checks for those purchasing firearms at gun shows and online, and break what Murphy said was the National Rifle Association’s outsized influence on members of Congress.
Hertzog said specifics of how the group would advocate for those changes were developing, but members preferred “direct action.” He said it was important that the group have a “gay sensibility” in working for more gun control regulation.
“Our group is unapologetically gay. It’s part of the DNA of the group,” he said.