The Pink Pistols: Protecting the Queer Community at All Costs

Ermiya Fanaeian, co-founder of March for Our Lives Utah, has changed her tune when it comes to gun control. Formerly anti-gun, Fanaeian is now the founder of Utah’s Pink Pistols, a group that seeks to arm and train the LGTBQ+ community. What changed?

Fanaeian knows there is an epidemic of violence against trans women of color, and decided to do something about it. This led her to research what national groups were already doing to support and protect her communities. She learned of the Pink Pistols, what they stand for, and the rest is history. A few short months later and the Utah chapter of the association now has 23 active members and more than 300 people engaging with their social media. 

The goal of the Pink Pistols is to change public perception of queer and trans people so that they’re no longer seen as an “easy target.” This is accomplished by arming and training the LGTBQ community with firearms. Never one to be held back by stereotypes, Fanaeian, once a co-founder of March for Our Lives Utah, now owns an AR15. 

Ermiya cites her growing distrust of politicians as a reason for her changed opinion on gun ownership. She used to believe that politicians and legislatures had a “commitment to protect LGTBQ Americans. As I continued in my organizing and my political career, I learned that this was not the case.” 

However, just because Fanaeian is now a firearm owner doesn’t mean she isn’t all for logical gun legislation. “I’m all in favor of preventing gun violence. I think everyone is.” In fact, she recently sat on Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski’s Commission Against Gun Violence. She supports communal based, communal efforts. “I think that the commission that I was a part of did amazing work.” What Fanaeian isn’t a fan of is the “continuous call to disarm Americans,” as she believes it “makes it harder for working-class Americans to get [guns] and a million times easier for the elitists to get them.” This belief is what ultimately set her apart from her fellow March for Our Lives activists, and led to her distancing herself from them. “They (March for our Lives) are calling for not only preventing gun violence but completely disarming working-class Americans and making it easier for only the elite and politicians to access firearms...Those kinds of initiatives I’m against.” 

The creation of a Utah chapter of the Pink Pistols hasn’t been without its critics. There has been backlash, specifically from liberals and the left-leaning.  She says there have been people “telling us that this is not a good idea, that we as LGTBQ people should be passionately anti-gun and discourage any kind of gun use in our community." However, Ermiya refuses to be dissuaded from her passion: protecting the queer and trans community.

Ermiya Fanaeian is a political and social activist who refuses to fit into any label. She and the Pink Pistols are willing to do whatever it takes to keep themselves and their loved ones safe. 

Pride parade Defend and Protect Queer Kids sign Photo by Denin Lawley from Unsplash