I am not sure if words can truly covey how I feel at this moment. I must be honest and say I am still in shock over the events that took place early Sunday morning. We experienced the worst mass shooting in the history of the United States. Not only was it yet another in a long line of incidents where citizens are gunned down in the US, it was also another terrorist attack and worse even yet, it was aimed directly at the LGBT community. As I woke from an already restless sleep early that morning, I watched in horror as the events unfolded at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. 50 members of the LGBT community were gunned down and 53 more were injured. All at the hands of a madman named Omar Mateen. It was a tragedy in the midst of pride month, a time when we should be celebrating our great community.
“What makes someone hate others to the point where they feel the need to do something about it?”
What makes someone hate others to the point where they feel the need to do something about it? Is it the pressures of society? Could it be religion? Maybe politics? It is probably a combination of these things. As we make progress in our fight for equal rights, we also see a backlash from those who cling to their imposed ideals. In the case of Mateen, it is the influence of a corrupted version of his religion. Combine that with the political discourse created by our politicians with the goal of inciting fear in order to prompt people to rush out to the polls. Add in the discourse created by slanted news agencies that only serve to fuel the fires of hate with their own goal of a financial gain from it. This is a deadly cocktail as we are in the midst of the anger stage of acceptance. We could only hope this is the peak of this up swell of hate.
Tragedies like these have become all too common since the massacre at Columbine a little over 17 years ago. As each one occurs, it is followed by the usual debates of left/right politics and what we should do about guns in America. We end up with no solutions, no compromises and in time the events fade a bit from our minds as we go about our way until the next shooting occurs. We repeat the cycle and repeat again, over and over while nothing changes. Yes we should talk about guns along with protecting 2nd amendment rights, but we should also be asking about what we are going to do about our society in general. We need to break this cycle of insanity.
My heart goes out to the victims, their friends and families. This hits too close to home. All I can feel is numbness. This is a time when I should be writing about something positive. I should be celebrating our community during our month of pride while providing a moment of relief from the discourse and bathroom bills. Now I find myself here talking about more pain and anguish. I hear those in our community that are too afraid to go to their pride events over what has taken place. The event perpetrated by Mateen along with another possible maniac who was apprehended with guns and ammunition on his was to LA Pride has the LGBT community on edge. This is the goal they hope to achieve through their acts of terror.
“Now we need to come together more than ever.”
Now we need to come together more than ever. We must honor those we lost by standing tall and celebrating our pride. We need to show the world that nothing will break the bond we have, nor will it break the love that we have for each other. We need to show them that nothing will stuff us back into the closet. They need to see that fear will not stop us. We need to continue our struggle for acceptance. Though we do so with a heavy heart, we must carry on. The goal of a terrorist is to change our behavior by making us afraid. If we do so we allow them to win. We need to continue to celebrate our month of pride. We must look out for each other while we do so and keep each other safe.
I for one will be at pride in New York City. I will be there with my chin held high and waving my transgender flag while thinking of those we lost. We will celebrate their lives by letting them know they were not lost in vain. We will show the world that we will not be silenced. We will show them that love always wins over fear. We will show them that we carry on, we persevere, and that they cannot take away our pride.