I have spoken here on the blog before about how important it is to me to be a straight ally to the LGBTQ community, and how I feel we can’t have equality for any group if we don’t have equality for everyone. Because I have the personal platform and ability to blog and to talk to many people across the US I felt it was important to make this post right now.
Unless you live under a rock you have already heard about the very unfortunate event that happened in Orlando, FL. If by some miracle you have not, you can read the original news release here and the more updated press release from the President here.
Essentially as time went by through the day the body count and the number of injured went up, as well as information about who the shooter was came out. There have been reports that the man was involved with ISIS, and there have been words like terrorism tosses around. However his father has released a statement that implies that jealousy may have been the cause instead, and that the family has no knowledge of his intent or actions. You can read about that and watch the news clip here.
But something else happened later in the day that hasn’t gotten the same amount of press, mainly because it was prevented from happening. A young white male was heavily armed with weapons and the items capable of creating explosives. He was stopped in Santa Monica, CA and arrested. He stated that he had been on his way to the LA Gay Pride Festival. There really has not been much of a statement made on the incident, only that this is not related to the Orlando event as far as authorities can tell. But if you would like to read it for yourself you can find it here.
I wanted to share pictures of both of these young men, not to burn their faces in your memory, but to make a point that is very important. Yes, there has been mention of potential involvement of ISIS in the Orlando case, but that has yet to be proven. And even if it is true I think we should be careful about how we use the word terrorism in this case. That word, especially when used in conjunction with a group like ISIS holds a certain type of meaning. But this was not everyone being targeted in the US, this was a specific group, and this was motivated by hate. It is a hate crime. And so when you look at the man who had aimed to go to LA, with the kind of weapons he had on him, had he not been stopped he easily could have done as much or more damage as what happened in Orlando. So look at these two faces and know that hate does not come in one color. Please don’t make what happened in Orlando about the color of someone’s skin, the country their family was from, their families religion. Let it stay what it was really about, HATE! And now lets heal that.
And the other reason I really wanted to do this post tonight is to ask people to please don’t let yourself live in fear. Whether you are a member of the LGBTQ community or a straight ally, don’t stay home because you’re afraid of what might happen. I know there have been some reports of other threats for various Pride events around the country, and I know if you tend to be the type that worries or is anxiety ridden it can become fear inducing. You can not live a life based on things that might happen.
Yes it can be scary at times to stand up and oppose bullies (and yes I do consider someone who threatens other people even with this severe of consequences a bully) when they have threatened you. I have made a habit in my life of standing up to bullies, and it has been hard at times. I have even had people ask me why I do and say some of the things I do or comment on how they just couldn’t do what I did because they would be too terrified of the retaliation. But I have through my life maintained that if I believe in something I stand strong in my beliefs and I don’t back down based on fear of what might happen.
So my biggest wish is for all of you to not live in fear, but instead live with pride. Please support your local LGBTQ community in whatever way you can. Either in showing support to individuals you know personally or even better going and helping out at some of the Pride events.