I’ve been thinking a lot about how we can move forward in the wake of the mass shooting in Orlando this past weekend. Sending out thoughts and prayers, hosting and going to vigils, and feeling grief and sorrow is incredibly important – it reminds us that we are not alone in all of this. And I don’t want to downplay the importance of taking the time to really grieve and heal from this tragedy. Because all of that is a really critical part of moving forward.
Coming together as a community is important too. The Twitter hashtag #QueerSelfLove is a reminder to not only love yourself but also a reminder that there are still so many around us. Our queerness, sexual orientation, and gender are all vital parts to who we are as people and we should love and embrace our queerness in the wake of not only this tragedy but also in the face of everything else.
But I really want to be doing more and see change happen. I don’t want to live in a place where schools, movie theaters, churches, clubs and bars are all not safe, where mass shootings are a regular occurrence, where homophobia, transphobia, racism, and so much more still impact people’s lives. I know that the queer and LGBTQ community as a whole is resilient but I really want a place where we’re truly safe and loved.
If you think your queer friends are doing okay or wouldn’t benefit from hearing from you, I guarantee you’re wrong.
— Zack Ford (@ZackFord) 13 June 2016
I’ve been thinking a lot about how to move forward and what to do next and I’m not the only one. Milo Todd wrote about eight ways allies can show support for the queer community right now – including donating blood and not talking over us in this time (looking at you Nick Jonas). If you are an ally, it’s really time to sit back, support us, and listen to us when we talk. Center our grief but don’t use it as a way to promote your own agenda and/or hate. Check in on your people as well – as Carlos Maza wrote for The Washington Post:
Ask them how they’re doing. Tell them you love them. Tell them your love doesn’t come with caveats. Tell them it’s okay to cry. Tell them they don’t deserve to be scared. Tell them that it’s okay to be scared anyway. Tell them it’s okay to be afraid of dying. Tell them that they matter to you — and that you want them here, alive, now. None of that will stop an LGBT person from being afraid of dying. Nor will it stop them from mourning the dead. The only way to deal with pain and trauma is to sit with it until it’s done with you. At the very least, though, make yourself available. They might not want to sit alone.
Related and on a larger level, we really need to be talking more about intersectionality and how race, gender, and so much more all interact on a personal level. We can’t forget that there are queer Muslims who exist, that queerness isn’t inherently a white person thing, that many of the people who died in Orlando were queer people of color. We all contain multitudes and it’s important that we don’t erase one identity by focusing on another.
Another part of moving forward from this past weekend is also donating to the people impacted and to LGBTQ/queer organizations. The Center is an LGBT community center in Orlando and partnered with several other organizations to raise money to provide an emergency hotline, crisis counseling, and to help the victims and their families. To donate, click here and to offer other services, there’s a Google Doc you can fill out. Equality Florida also has a GoFundMe to help support the victims.
There are organizations all around the country that work with the LGBTQ/queer community in various capacities that need help all the time. Places like Ali Forney Center, Callen-Lorde Community Health Center, the Audre Lorde Project, Basic Rights Oregon, the Q Center, Gay City, and so many more constantly do a whole lot of work to support the community. Supporting these organizations and the many more that exist can make sure that queer people have support and community in the weeks, months, and years after this past weekend’s events.
Plus, I think this is far too late but we really need to be talking about gun control in a way that demands changes to the gun culture that exists here in the US. There’s an Onion article that I keep seeing every time a mass shooting in the US happens that, in my opinion, accurately describes the atmosphere we have here – the title of it: ‘No Way To Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens.
I can’t claim to know how to go from here nor do I really have any direct answers to this complicated issue. Everyone deals with this situation in different ways and no one person has all the answers. But I’m ready for this country to finally stop being incredibly awful to not only all the marginalized communities but to be less obsessed with the second amendment.
I’m ready for real and effective change that values the humanity and lives of all the people here rather than just the privileged few. I’m ready for a country where black lives matter, where queer people aren’t harassed or killed, where trans people can pee in peace, and so much more.
If you are struggling right now or at any point in the future, there are so many people who want to help and resources available. Some include:
Suicide Prevention Lifeline: (800) 273-8255
Trevor Project: (866) 488-7386
Trans Lifeline: (877) 565-8860
Text an anonymous crisis counselor: 741741