Today is the one-year anniversary of the worst mass shooting and hate crime in US history. Yes, it was also a terrorist attack but in my humble view, all mass shootings are terrorist attacks whether a white Christian, a Muslim, or another religion, race, or anything commits them. Today, we honor the 49 lives lost and countless others injured by the Pulse Nightclub shooting that happened around 2 am on June 12th, 2016 in Orlando, Florida.
On that fateful day we lost forty-nine precious souls that left this earth much too soon, we lost friends, we lost family, and we lost a piece of who we are as Americans and LGBTQ brothers and sisters. We will not forget and we will not be silent about the issues that caused that shooting, nor will we let hate win and go back in the closet. I know that as for me I will fight to honor these the 49 victims in several ways and I believe countless others feel the same, we are in this for the long haul.
Far too often after these tragedies we forget and move on with our lives but we must never forget. Whether it was Orlando, Newtown, Aurora, Blacksburg, the kid who accidently shoots themselves with an unsecured gun, or the many acts of gun violence that impact our country and change lives one thing is for sure, this is an epidemic public health crisis and something must be done, but that is not the only issue in relation to this particular tragedy, there is another.
LGBTQ people may have come a long way over the years but we are still hated, persecuted, denied our rights, and are one of the most targeted groups in hate crimes. Orlando was the worst we have ever seen but there are so many acts of violence committed against this community. I am sure many remember the brutal attack on Matthew Shepard that rocked this nation but there are many less high profile hate crimes against LGBTQ people, especially against our transgender brothers and sisters.
Orlando was one that we thought would change both of these issues but it sadly did not, even today there are many anti-LGBTQ pastors, organizations, and right wing politicians who seek to discriminate, hate, and hurt this community so in that sense Orlando did not change things. I am bisexual so much of the time I can personally avoid this persecution while gay, lesbian, and transgender folks in this community cannot. That is not to say that I am not hated, judged, and discriminated against, but it is less than others in the LGBTQ world.
This is an important issue, attacks like Orlando show how much LGBTQ people are hated but so do the legislation by the Republicans that restrict our rights and anti equality politicians like Mike Pence who want to use conversation therapy to change who people are and that is just as dangerous as people who commit the brutal hate crimes, the right-wing ‘Christian” ideology against LGBTQ people is more dangerous than any of it.
We need the Equality Act protect LGBTQ people from discrimination which will in turn protect us from hate and violence. We need full federal equality for all those in this community, we need a president who celebrates Pride Month and does things like Obama did by lighting up the White House to celebrate this vibrant and loving community. I believe that we need change on all of these issues relating to equality and protecting LGBTQ folks but we also need one other thing that would have prevented Orlando from ever happening in the first place and that thing is national gun reform.
We as gun control activists call it gunsense, it would have prevented this tragedy a year ago today from taking place but also would prevent thousands of gun deaths every year including the many mass shootings we experience as a nation that tear families apart. I get much push back on this but I will always fight for this issue, we honor them with action as thoughts and prayers do not change anything, the right talks about praying for the families yet they spit in the face of the victims by voting against any common sense laws that would put an end to gun violence or at least greatly reduce the problem that tears this nation apart.
There are some simple steps we could take now to make sure this doesn’t happen again, of course we will never end all violence but by restricting what guns they can get, we can reduce the lives lost and injured by these senseless mass shootings. I know, these people say that gun violence is down but if you ask me that is disrespectful and heartless. Even if it is down (it isn’t) that doesn’t make up for the lives that are lost and the families that are left to pick up the pieces.
Mass shootings are up and we have the most in the developed world and it isn’t even close. Orlando was the worst and was personal for me, but they all are bad and all take lives that did not deserve to die. The myths of the gun crowd are not only just that, myths, but they are heartless and cold. They always defend the gun and never the lives lost. I know gun owners and they know that you can be in favor of gun ownership while having a heart and showing empathy for the victims and today when the country is remembering the victims of the Pulse mass shooting, the people in pro-gun circles just talked about their guns, they did not say a word to show compassion for the worst day in recent American history and for the lives lost.
The MCX that was used in Orlando IS an assault weapon as is the AR-15 and the many other similar weapons. I know that the gun industry classify these guns as “sporting rifles” but they are civilian versions of military grade assault weapons. Some of the worst mass shootings in our history are done with these guns, restricting them as well as banning high capacity mags will save many lives but the NRA and Republicans value guns over life and this is obvious by their inaction.
What can we do?
We can HONOR THEM WITH ACTION!
We must fight for both of these issues, on one hand we must push for things like the Equality Act and other protections for LGBTQ Americans and fight for their rights. I believe that we can change things and protect not only the rights of this community but stand with them, you do not have to be LGBTQ to support them as humans and that is where we need to unite, not just today on Orlando United Day but every single day, equality must always be fought for and celebrated as it is the essence of humanity.
Finally, we must pass common sense gun reform in this nation, let Orlando show us the damage that guns do and how they serve no good purpose. Arming people is not the answer, disarming is. Less guns equal less gun deaths and until we as a nation value the lives lost to firearms over the love of accumulation of these firearms then tragedies like Orlando will continue to happen and families will continue to be left behind to deal with the pain and anguish while Congress and the gun lobby profit off these deaths. Today, we honor Orlando and remember the kind souls we lost one year ago but tomorrow and every day after we will honor these people with action, we will fight for equality and for stricter gun laws to prevent future tragedies!
Orlando 6/12/16 – NEVER FORGET!