if I didn’t talk about the Orlando shooting?
When I heard about it, I didn’t take the time to process. I went straight to work contacting the board of my not-for-profit LGBTQ resource centre to plan a vigil. Our organization was joined by several other local not-for-profits, LGBTQ student groups, and institutions in coordinating the event, and after a long day of emails, phone calls, social media, and news media, we are all set to host a vigil in our city on Thursday night. Hundreds of people have already confirmed that they will be attending. The only thing I have left to do is to write a short speech.
So this morning, after responding to all of the overnight social media questions and comments, I took a breath and decided to let myself process my emotions. It think it would be impossible to hear the names and descriptions of personalities of the victims without crying. It could have been my community who was attacked. It could have been my wife and I, out to celebrate Pride in our own city (which we did just a little over a month ago). It could have been my friends and my colleagues – people who bring their community to life with their passion and volunteerism. All of the people who were killed were innocent. They were congregated to feel a sense of safety with like-minded people, and they were attacked in a place that should have been safe. Just like those attacked in places of worship or in schools. There is so much hate still in this world, and the hatred within one person can be life threatening to entire communities of people. That is an unsettling thought.
But my hope for the LGBTQ community, and for all marginalized communities that face hatred and prejudice on a regular basis, is that incidents like this will bring us closer together; that a renewed sense of humanity and compassion and love will rise up from the ashes of tragedy. In my own small community, we have come together with other marginalized groups (Muslims, members of the multicultural association, Women in Crisis) as well as with people in positions of power (the city Mayor, university administration) to promote a message of solidarity and mutual support. At this time of tragedy, I hope that we can all turn inward to our communities, and outward to humanity in general, and feel love and compassion. There is a lot of work still to be done to eliminate the prejudice behind hate crimes, and our only chance is to work together.