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    First Published: September 2001
       This is an OutUK Archive Item and so some of the links and information may be out of date.
American gay chat rooms and message boards have been overwhelmed with expressions of sympathy from gay men around the world following the devastating terrorist attacks in the United States.

As OutUK's correspondent Rex Wockner reports gay New York is in shock along with everyone else.

New York
New York after the collapse of the
World Trade Center towers
"I thought I was a goner," said Ralph Buchalter, a gay friend of this reporter who works at the American Stock Exchange. "I saw the second plane hit. I was late going to work. The towers are two blocks from where I work."

"When the first tower came down, this noise started, like a freight train, and people started screaming, then there was just like this cloud of black. It was like trying to outrun a train with thousands of other people. People were screaming and fainting. The noise was so deafening. There was nothing I could do. It didn't matter if I ran 15 more feet. I stopped in the doorway of an Indian fabric store."

"I thought I was fine when I woke up today [Wednesday], and I went to breakfast and I got a newspaper, and when I saw the pictures I almost fainted and I had to leave the restaurant. You think you're fine for a while and then one image comes into your head, and I start crying. I'm alive. I'm very thankful. I feel very lucky. The psychological thing of handling the enormity of it is the difficult thing."

Terrorists crashed hijacked commercial jetliners into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon Tuesday morning. Both towers of the Trade Center collapsed, as did one wall of the Pentagon. A fourth hijacked jetliner en route to San Francisco crashed in rural Pennsylvania. The cumulative death tolls may reach five figures.

"[I] will never be OK again," veteran New York City gay journalist Andy Humm said Tuesday. "Sure to have lost friends. Monstrous. Don't know what to do. Don't know where to go. My roommate, Jed, witnessed it from his office across the Hudson in Jersey City. Called me to turn on the TV. Saw the second plane hit live on TV. Went to an upper floor here in London Terrace and saw the buildings burning. Went out for a few minutes. Came back and they were gone. Gone."

"My father and three brothers own and run two coffee shops down there; one is just up the street from WTC," said gay journalist and author Michelangelo Signorile. "They got to the bomb shelter in their respective buildings just after the explosions blew their windows out and just before the Twin Towers collapsed. One of their shops was completely destroyed in the 'tidal wave' of debris from the collapse, the other badly damaged. Amazingly, we were able to speak to them, on and off, on the telephone throughout the whole thing. They were, as you can imagine, very shaken up. They were mostly OK physically, suffered from smoke inhalation. They made it to the Staten Island Ferry on foot, the only way off of Manhattan [Tuesday]. My brother reports seeing 'terrible' things on the streets in terms of damage to people."

"Bicycled down near city hall," veteran New York City gay activist Bill Dobbs said Tuesday. "Lots of face masks, improvised and otherwise. Real dust storm in some spots. Little traffic except emergency vehicles. Dust/silt all over the streets there, places several inches deep. ... Mood is incredulous, emotional but calm. ... Trade Towers are a part of my daily life, seeing them and the Empire State Building is quintessence of Manhattan for me. Now giant clouds of gray black smoke obscure where they would be. Can't imagine what [it was] like when structures collapsed."

"My boyfriend Gary was in his new office just off Wall Street ... when the first plane hit," said veteran ACT UP/New York and AIDS-treatment activist Peter Staley. "He called me at 8:50, asking me if anything was on the news, since he had heard a boom, and office paper was blowing past his window. I watched the second plane hit live on CNN. Gary was able to catch a [number] 2/3 subway train home before the buildings collapsed."

"My business partner, Gayzette publisher Frank Williams, had just come up from the subway two blocks from the WTC, smelled smoke and headed toward the crowd gathered at the end of the block when the first building began to collapse," said Carol Fezuk, editor of the Rehoboth Beach [Delaware] Gayzette. "He said there was bedlam and chaos as people ran over and atop each other in an attempt to find shelter. He crawled over bodies and others grabbed him to get ahead of the cloud of dust and debris that enveloped the streets of the city. He's seems OK ... has some chest pain and congestion from the dust."

The Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund and the American Foundation for AIDS Research are located near the lower Manhattan disaster area, but apparently no one from the organizations was injured.

"Apart from choking our way through clouds of dust and soot, those of us at Lambda Legal Defense made it out fine and walked ourselves home," said staff attorney Jennifer Middleton. "We are in the same building as AmFAR, and though the building was not in harm's way, all of us inside exited to unbelievable debris amid throngs of evacuees making their way north."

Playwright, author and ACT UP cofounder Larry Kramer woke up in his Greenwich Village apartment shortly after the attacks.

"The World Trade Center was a towering smoke stack billowing unbelievable amounts of huge white clouds," Kramer said. "I turned on my TV set and for the next hour I rushed from the window to the TV and back to compare. The reality was almost too much to bear looking at. I lay down on my bed and I started to feel peculiar. I don't know how to describe the feeling exactly. I felt my life, and everyone's life, and this country, had lost control. God knows I've been through hell with my health this past couple of years but this was different. I guess if I had studied Sartre he would have told me it was existential. My existence was no longer my existence. I called the few friends I know who work in the World Trade Center and discovered they were all safe. Then, for whatever reason, I decided to try and go through my planned day. My dentist told me to come in (I want to finish some messy work before my new liver arrives) ... so I went outside and tried to figure how to get myself to (first stop) 61st and Park."

Among the gay people known dead is New York Fire Department Catholic chaplain Rev. Mychal Judge.

"He was a decent wonderful human being," said journalist Humm. "When gays were kept out of the St. Patrick's Parade, he gave me an interview on the street telling me how terrible it was for us to be discriminated against and for the church to be doing it. I saw him at many demonstrations for gay and AIDS causes, showing up in his Franciscan monk's cassock. And he was equally beloved by the Fire Department, there at every major fire tragedy in the city lending moral support to firefighters."

San Francisco gay rugby player Mark Bingham died in the Pennsylvania crash. Bingham, 31, had been planning to field a team in next year's Gay Games in Sydney.

A gay male couple from Los Angeles, Ronald Gamboa and Dan Brandhorst, and their 3-year-old adopted son, David, died on one of the planes that slammed into the World Trade Center, Kentucky's WAVE-TV reported. Gamboa's mother lives in Kentucky.

The co-pilot of American Airlines flight 77, which crashed into the Pentagon, was openly gay, the Washington Blade reported. David Charlebois lived in Washington, D.C., and was a member of the National Gay Pilots Association.

David Angell, 54, of Pasadena, Calif., executive producer of the NBC TV show Frasier, died in one of the plane crashes. Angell, who was straight, was involved in the gay protests against Dr. Laura Schlessinger and wrote the episode of Cheers in which Sam's old buddy comes out to him and the gang fears Cheers is going to become a gay bar.

In Washington, D.C., where the Pentagon crash killed an estimated 200 people, activist John Aravosis said: "Those of us in Washington ... are under a state of emergency and spent most of the morning [Tuesday] looking out our windows expecting 11 reportedly errant planes to take out the Congress, the White House and the Washington Monument. You can see all from my balcony."

"Literally every 10 minutes I was looking out my window, expecting the Capitol building to go up in flames," Aravosis said. "A friend in a senator's office got a call at 10 a.m. that a jet was heading right for the Congress, and they evacuated the building, fast. The only thing you could hear outside all day was sirens and F-16s flying overhead protecting the city's airspace, which I suppose should have been comforting, but it was more creepy, in a Beirut kind of way, than soothing."

"This morning, it is odd to see Humvees and military police on the street corners in Georgetown," D.C. activist Joel Lawson said Wednesday. "Out my office window, military and civilian police constantly patrol the Potomac River, paying particular attention to the security of structures along the water here such as the Kennedy Center and the massive Key Bridge. ... Living in Washington, D.C., for a long time, what haunts you most is the realization that so many security gaps have existed for so long. Security will finally change here. ... 'Business as usual' is a retired notion."

To commemorate this anniversary we present items from the OutUK Outback Archive which reflect the events of 9/11 and its aftermath.

The Personal Story of Flight 93 Hero Mark Bingham
More on The Anniversary of September 11th 2001
OutUK sponsors the The Bingham Cup
Results and pictures from the 2004 Bingham Cup
Attack on America - The story of 9/11
The book that tells of the heroism and sacrifice of Mark Bingham

 

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