We are all reeling from the horrific mass shooting that took place at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, FL. A vicious attack against people in the LGBTQ community on the club’s Latin night where many people in this community went to be themselves, to dance, to celebrate, to love, to live. It is painful to think that in the midst of exuberance and joy, there was an invasion of hate; hate in a person with a legally purchased assault rifle who proceeded to kill 49 people an injure 53 others. This is the America we live in. We live in a country where discrimination against people in the LBGTQ community is common and frequently justified by religious beliefs. We live in a country where people in the LGBTQ community often feel unsafe being themselves and showing affection to the people they love in public, for fear of retaliation. We live in a country where under the guise of “religious freedom” laws are being put in place that enable close-minded people to discriminate against people in the LGBTQ community who are simply seeking to live their lives freely like other Americans. This is the America we live in.
We live in a country where Latinos have difficulty getting jobs, getting adequate education and must work harder to excel because of discrimination, prejudice, and ignorance. We live in a country where prominent politicians actively discuss deporting undocumented immigrants and seek to dehumanize them in the process. We live in a country where talking on the phone in Spanish can prompt a deportation. Where actively acknowledging your heritage and/or documentation status can be met with threats and a dismissal of authority or accomplishments. This is the country we live in.
Some of the most vulnerable among us were brutally attacked and now it is our turn to respond. I urge you to allow yourself to feel the pain and sorrow of the lives lost early Sunday morning. I encourage you to mourn with the family members and friends who lost loved ones. You may not share the background of the people who were attacked in this incident but you share a common humanity. And if you are a black woman who does not identify as Latinx or LGBTQ you still share the unfortunate experience of being oppressed. I urge you to stand with our brothers and sisters.
It was beautiful to see the hundreds of people lining up to donate blood to make sure that those who are injured have enough to survive. It is wonderful to see the outpouring of support, love, and encouragement for the LGBTQ community in Orlando and throughout the country. This is the America we live in. We must stand with our brothers and sisters in the Latinx and LGBTQ community. We must stand with them in their sorrow, their fear, their pain. We must advocate for their safety and help to create a world in which all people from vulnerable groups are able to live freely without fear of attack or discrimination.
There are a number of ways to take action related to this recent tragedy here are a few suggestions:
- Donate to organizations providing support to survivors and families of those who died.
- Take an active stand as an ally of the LGBTQ community – call out discrimination when you hear or see it. Support people in the LGBTQ community as they advocate for their rights. Ask what you can do to help.
- Advocate for changes in gun laws. Call your representatives and demand that they work to implement common sense gun laws. The person who carried out this horrific attack should not have been able to easily and legally buy and assault rifle.
- Spread love and kindness – I know this may sound simple or silly but small acts of love and kindness spread and I believe, as many wise people have said, that love is the only thing that will conquer hate.