June is a month that for me has historically been marked with emotional intensity and growth. June 2016 is no exception. It was the summer semesters in which I began both my nursing undergraduate training and later my master's education as a nurse practitioner. This month, I began my next educational journey by beginning my Doctorate of Nursing Practice coursework. During the first week, we had the opportunity and privilege to have Safe Zone training. This training focused on raising education about the LBGTQ community and to help foster a safe educational and work environment. I didn't realize how relevant this training would be at the time.
The morning of June 12, 2016 I awoke to discover that a massive tragedy had occurred again to the LGBTQ community. For several hours I was stunned and couldn't find clarity or definition in the swirl of feelings and thoughts I was experiencing. I had been reflective in the past few days, as June is my anniversary month for coming out of the closet in 2014, and there continue to be challenges surrounding that event. There are many questions in my mind that I initially do not have good answers to. "How can this kind of violence against us keep happening." "Who is going to stop this?"
This is written as a call to our allies -- our friends, families, co-workers. Please raise your voices with us as we declare that intolerance and hatred are not acceptable. I am not speaking just of the large events such as the massacre of June 12th in Orlando. A person does not simply one day decide to act violently to murder dozens of people. Hatred is something that has been nurtured and groomed for years. It may have been ignored or permitted by many. I support religious beliefs, but I do not support them as the roots of intensely held disdain, disgust, and devaluation of the lives of others who do not share those beliefs.
We all can agree that this violence cannot continue. Yes, we should pray. We should hold candlelight vigils. But this awareness and concern must not stop in our minds. It must continue in our lives every day as each of you makes certain that every person lives and works safely in an environment free from large and small acts of intolerance. Violence continues because not enough people have said it is not okay. It stops if each one of us says we will not accept the treatment of another group of people as less valuable than ourselves. No one deserves to be killed because they show love for a person in a way that makes someone uncomfortable.
Everyone must come together to stop this. According to a 2013 Pew Research report, 87 percent of Americans know a member of the LGBTQ community. You know someone affected by the hatred against the LGBTQ population. So please, stand with us not just today in the aftermath of tragedy. Stand with us every day. Speak up for us. March with us. Do not wait for more of us to die. When will it finally be bad enough for you to take a stand against prejudice and acts of hatred, big and small? It needs to be today. Now. We are dying. We are your sons and daughters, brothers and sisters. Choose the side of love and kindness, and stop enabling discrimination and cruelty.