I don’t know what to say.
I feel bad that I didn’t post about this right after I’d heard about the tragedy––I was just in such shock, rage, and pain that I couldn’t even form words. I still can’t. I don’t think there’s any way I can articulate how devastated and furious I am.
Above all else, my heart hurts for the victims, for all their friends and family. The pain and horror they have to endure is unimaginable.
49 innocent people were killed, and 53 were injured. 49 people don’t get to live out the rest of their lives or see their loved ones ever again. 53 people have to live with lifelong injuries, scars, and PTSD (if they all survive). All because one man was so offended by the sight of two men kissing that he decided 49 people had to pay for it with their lives.
They were more than just numbers, more than just victims. They were beautiful human beings. Here are their names. They were dancers, artists, students, teachers, musicians, nurses. They were parents, they were sons and daughters. They died alongside beloved friends and partners. It’s so tragic and unfair that it makes me want to scream.
This was an act of domestic terrorism as well as a hate crime. Nothing about this tragedy is a coincidence. It’s not a coincidence that the shooter targeted a gay nightclub. It’s not a coincidence that he chose to attack on a Lantinx-themed night hosted by trans women. It’s not a coincidence that he chose to attack during Pride Month. He specifically targeted LGBTQIA+ people of color, one of the most marginalized groups in the country (and the world), and he chose to attack them in their safe space. Typing out those words literally makes me feel dizzy and sick to my stomach. I can’t believe that someone could be so monstrous.
But if that’s not disgusting enough, it also infuriates me that this is not new or entirely unexpected. We live in a country that fuels hatred and gives people the means to carry out hate crimes. We live in a country that politicizes love and marriage, but does nothing when it comes to controlling violence. Apparently everyone has the right to own a machine gun––including people on FBI watch lists, people with histories of committing violence/abuse, and people who are openly racist and/or homophobic/transphobic––but LGBTQIA+ people (especially LGBTQIA+ people of color) don’t have the right to walk outside, or even to exist in their own safe spaces, without the fear of being attacked or killed for their mere existence.
I’ve seen people blaming this tragedy on guns, and others blaming it on hatred. The fact is, it’s both. If we’re going to prevent hate crimes and mass shootings, we need to stand up for the rights of marginalized people and listen to their voices and have a better control on violence.
We still have a very long way to go. But I’m still trying to be hopeful about the future, as bleak as things may seem right now. Even though this attack is a huge blow, I’ve still seen a lot of progress in my lifetime. I see more and more people accepting who they are, and at younger and younger ages. I see more and more LGBTQIA+ representation in the media (even if it’s still not nearly enough, but at least it’s happening). I’ve only very recently started to accept my own identity as a bisexual woman, and it’s because I’ve had so much love, support, and acceptance from friends and family––many of whom are also LGBTQIA+.
The tragedy in Orlando weighs so heavily on my heart, and I know change will not come easily. But ultimately, love is love, and it will always be stronger and louder than hatred.