On Orlando

13 June 2016

When I woke up yesterday morning, I saw that there had been a mass shooting in Orlando. It’s really telling that when I saw the headline, my reaction was “ugh, again?” and I kept scrolling. We’ve reached the point as a country where my generation considers mass shootings to be so common that we hardly react to the headlines and we forget about them quickly. Earlier this month, there was a murder-suicide at UCLA that we’ve already stopped talking about and others we haven’t even heard about. It’s clear that we need to do more, both legislatively and culturally, to work towards a resolution of these issues. When we politicize human rights and safety, this is the result and will continue to be the result.

The attack on Pulse was a direct attack against LGBTQ+ individuals as well as U.S. citizens, Latinos, and Muslims. At least forty-nine innocent people died in the attack and fifty-three were injured, some in critical condition as of last night. Over 100 circles of families and friends are grieving, praying, and worrying; their lives will never be the same. It is nothing short of devastating.

Those of us who are members of or allies of the LGBTQ+ community feel as though we’ve lost family and friends, even though most of us likely didn’t know any of the victims personally. Every one of us understands how it feels to come out, to have our first real kiss, and to have the strength to press on through the storms of gay slurs and anti-gay legislation. We’ve struggled, and we continue to struggle, for our love and our true genders to be recognized and accepted. We fight feelings of humiliation, of not being “man” or “woman” enough, nervousness of being who we are, and uneasiness of expressing our love where others can see it. For many attendees of Pulse, it was likely the one of few places where they could be themselves without fear. The victims are our people, our friends, and our family. All of us are grieving.

It’s easy to assign blame to somewhere else. And indeed, Daesh has claimed responsibility. But, as Orlando slips below the fold on Facebook’s trending topics, we’ll do nothing but blame, and nothing to prevent the next shooting. We need to counter the culture of violence, racism, xenophobia, homophobia, sexism, etc that has come to light in this round of presidential primaries. Until we do, it’s all of our fault and will happen again, and again, and again in everyone’s communities and no amount of surveillance will prevent it.

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