Post-Trump, Demand Surges For LGBT & Female Self-Defense Class
By Stephen Gossett in News on Nov 18, 2016 7:44PM
More than 400 incidents of “hateful harassment and intimidation” have been logged since Donald Trump’s election victory, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. In the wake of such intimidation and the president-elect’s own garbage rhetoric (and truly frightening appointments), a local queer-identifying, onetime martial-arts instructor is returning to the ring in order to offer free courses in self-defense for potentially targeted people.
Michael Una, 35, put the call out for Stronger Together, “a free self-defense and martial arts class for the LGBTQ community and women of all orientations.” Only one class was originally scheduled, for this Sunday afternoon, but the response was so strong, he’s had to add three additional dates to accommodate the interest.
Una says the post-election safety anxiety is palpable. “Pretty immediately, all our worst fears seemed to be coming true,” he said, referencing the recent the appointment of Jeff Sessions to Attorney General and Steve Bannon to chief strategist, among others. “It’s really bad for a lot of people, but especially people who are already marginalized.
Una, who makes custom electronic instruments and has written for Chicagoist, said the goal of the classes is twofold: to offer practical protection advice, but also help with the broader need of self-care and empowerment, post-election, in general. Una wants attendees to come away with “the ability to react to conflict as it presents itself,” but also “increase a person’s feeling of personal strength, on a day-to-day basis.”
“The point is not to create an army of queer ninjas to police the city,” he added. “It’s to help people feel they have the strength to do the real work that needs to be done.”
The currently scheduled four classes—Sunday Nov. 20 (12:30 to 2 p.m.), Friday, Nov. 25 (6:30 to 8:00 p.m.), Saturday, Nov. 26 (12:30 to 2 p.m.), and Sunday, Nov. 27 (12:30-2 p.m.)—all take place at Northern Raptor Kung Fu (7014 N. Western Ave.). Una hopes to make the seminars an ongoing concern after the November session is completed. To help with demand, other martial-arts instructors and schools—which, like Northern Raptor, have offered space free of charge—have since joined the call, too, and are mobilizing groups of their own.
"Everybody who isn’t white, straight and Christian has been made to feel very scared," Una said. "We want to change that."
More information about each class is available here. Admission is free; a $5 donation is recommended. We featured Una's class in our Thursday roundup of protests and actions going on this weekend; be sure to check out the other events here.