This morning began, for me, like most mornings do. I looked at the clock to see if I either underslept or overslept. I unplugged my phone and checked to see if I had any urgent notifications, then moving to check my email and twitter notifications. I messaged a friend and we talked for a little while until he had to go to work.
At 10:54 this morning I received a message from another friend of mine, who happens to be a member of the LGBTQ+ community and on vacation in Florida:
I wasn’t at pulse I’m alive
At this point in the morning, I had no idea what he was talking about.
Upon learning more about what happened (and reading about it all day from that point to now), I was at a loss for words. Despite this, I’m going to do my best to explain it.
Pulse, a nightclub in Orlando, FL advertised as a gay dance club, was attacked by Omar Mateen (who was later killed by police) at around 2am. At least 50 individuals were killed, and at least 53 were injured, making it the deadliest shooting in United States history. According to Mateen’s father (as reported by NBC News), the shooting was unrelated to religion and Mateen was angered by the sight of a homosexual couple kissing. However, according to a U.S. official (as reported by CNN), “Mateen called 911 around the time of the attack to pledge allegiance to ISIS.”
To my understanding, nothing about his affiliation has been confirmed yet. However, that doesn’t mean nothing is confirmed. We know that he opened fire in a place where those in the LGBTQ+ community felt safe, and 50+ people were killed.
Regardless of his affiliation, acts of hate are acts of hate, and acts of violence are acts of violence. There is a lot of talk right now about how this is because of his heritage, which has yet to be confirmed. But we need to look at this for what it is and stop saying this all happened because of the area of the world he might have ancestry in (it is confirmed that he was born in New York). A good portion of discussion on social media has led to the generalization that it’s the fault of everyone who supported immigrants coming into the country, and that only adds to the false idea that people who are of this descent or that faith are all bad people, and they aren’t. The fact of the matter is this was an act of violence and it happened to the LGBTQ+ community. Though things have definitely gotten better in terms of violence towards this community, this violence is still something we are facing.
This morning began, for me, like most mornings do. But for those directly impacted, for many of those in the LGBTQ+ community, and for countless others, this morning brought pain and tragedy. Our hearts are with you. Getting angry and tossing blame around is not going to solve anything, make anything better, or help prevent it from happening again. So I suppose the real question is, what are we going to do next? For example, there’s talk of more support for gun control, which has facts to back it up. But no matter what happens, the important thing is that we stick together and support each other. Whether that support comes from those directly in the community, or allies affiliated with the community, we can stand together and keep advocating for a better tomorrow.