How can one comprehend the tragedy that occurred in Orlando? A normal Sunday morning checking social media to discover a mass murder.
Unfortunately, this has become common place in our America. Columbine, Aurora, Boston and Sandy Hook to name a few. The media covers extensively for a few days, social media pictures are changed and for the majority of us, life goes on.
Orlando is different. This is my community. This is the family that embraced me when I choose to come out three years ago. These were people out having a good time, being themselves during a Saturday night during Pride month. This was officially war on the LGBT community.
Throughout the day I had to sit back and hear people like Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz speak about prayer for those affected. The same people who didn't see the dead as equals and didn't believe they should be treated as so, now wanted to turn to prayer to honor them.
The religious right consistently attacks the LGBT community as a group that shuns family values. They portray us as a boogeyman. Sexual deviants who disobey the law of god. Yet, when tragedy occurs and the public outcry demands it, they pray for us.
Save your prayers. The rhetoric and hate that the right spews on a daily basis leads to this kind of violence. It doesn't matter that this particular killer was Muslim. On the same day, a white male from Indiana headed to Pride in Los Angeles to cause the same type of carnage. Spare me that this is about Islam. This is about hate for people who aren't like you. A radical islamic terrorist in Florida or a Christian in Los Angeles with the same ideology.
In the three years that I've been out I have undergone a remarkable transition. For 35 years I lived a fake life out of fear. I sat around and listened to blatant homophobia and even participated. Every time I've gone out with friends my mom has said, "be careful there are crazy people out there." This because I was gay.
I'm tired of my community being treated differently. I'm tired of groups like the NCAA protecting schools who allow blatant homophobia in the name of autonomy. I'm tired of religious leaders and politicians speaking out against the LGBT community.
All this leads to actions like today. It lead to countless number of transgender people being murdered. Its led to countless number of hate crimes. It led to the murder of an innocent kid named Matthew Shepard.
Our community needs to heal and that will take time. As we do, these 50 souls need to be honored. The community needs to be as visible as ever. We are not going away and we will not lay down.
Coming out stories are necessary. Pride month is necessary. It gives many hope and a sense of family that many do not have. We can not apologize for who we are, but rather unequivocally be our true selves. There is no better way to overcome hatred and honor the lost.