Envisioning Peace

Chicago Foundation for Women joins the nation in honoring the lives of those lost in this weekend's deadly shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando. What would already be a horrific crime is made all the more devastating that it happened during Pride month, a time when we celebrate the LGBTQIA movement, not mourn monumental loss.

The atrocities of early Sunday morning is a stark reminder that despite gains made over the last forty years, LGBTQIA individuals around the country continue to face unprecedented levels of violence. 2015 may have marked the historic marriage equality ruling, but it also noted a historically high number of transgender murders, particularly against trans women of color. And sadly, this year does not look to be much better with at least ten murders already accounted for. 2016 has also brought us "bathroom bills" in North Carolina and other states, which only opens trans people to more surveillance, harassment, and assault. The threat is now a reality. A local Target store recently experienced a small bomb going off in the women's restroom. The retail chain has been a site of protest recently for allowing transgender people to use the restroom and changing room of their choosing.

In the wake of the Orlando massacre, some have chosen to focus on the shooter's alleged ties to ISIS and global terrorism, avoiding "LGBTQIA" all together, including many politicians around the country. We cannot mask this as anything other than domestic terrorism and a hate crime. This happened to a very specific group of people and for a very specific reason. Not now or ever should we engage in Islamophobia to stand against homophobia. We must reject both. Political writer David Klion said it best: "There will be attempts to pit two vulnerable communities, LGBT and Muslims, against each other. Resist them."

Every day we must recommit ourselves to the movement of social and political progress. Grassroots activists, civic leaders, every day people dedicated to positive change, and organizations like Chicago Foundation for Women work tirelessly to carry the movement forward, creating a world where race, gender, and sexual orientation are no longer tools of control or a rationale for discrimination. Just as we must all come together to pick up the pieces from this tragedy and support our LGBTQIA communities, we must also recognize our role and responsibility in fostering a world free from hate.

Let us not give up on that vision. We all deserve to exist, and in a world where we can all live in peace and be at peace.