When I found out about the shooting yesterday at Pulse, an LGBTQ nightclub in Orlando, FL, I was horrified. Another tragedy where innocent people were slaughtered like animals. I was sad for the victims, their friends and families, and so angry at the person who did this.
But the full weight of this attack did not sink in until I had more time to think about it, and what it meant for me, my family, and the community I am proud to be a part of.
Someone (whose name I refuse to recognize) KILLED dozens of people because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. Someone thought that others’ lives were less important than their own because they were not the same.
This was a hate crime. This was disgusting, and there is no excuse for it.
Mine and my wife’s best friends live in and around Orlando, and one of their good friends (and his boyfriend) was murdered in this awful event.
It hits home in so many ways.
This is 2016, and I thought we were making progress. I thought we were moving forward. Much of the world recognizes same-sex marriages, and the United States officially adopted marriage equality as law in June of 2015. It has been a whole year!
Yet I am reminded of how far we still have to go.
I am reminded that I and my wife are not free to walk down the street holding hands and know we will be accepted and safe. Yet many people take this privilege and luxury for granted.
I am reminded that my children could be threatened, injured, or even killed because they have two moms instead of a mom and a dad.
I am reminded that people think that I and my family made a “choice” or are living a “lifestyle.” I don’t know about you, but if I were to choose something, I doubt it would be something so misunderstood and apparently dangerous!
I am reminded that people still take tragedies and twist them to make them fit into their political or religious agendas and platforms.
I am reminded that the local Pride event this Saturday is actually not necessarily a safe place to celebrate. This leaves me with so many conflicting emotions surrounding taking a stand and attending, or keeping myself and my family home and safe.
I am reminded that hate still runs rampant. And I am sad. Angry. Hurt. Scared. Outraged. Disappointed. Heartbroken.
But I am strong, just like my fellow “family” within the LGBTQ community. I am loving. I am committed. I am thankful. I am ready.
Over and over, we have faced adversity, discrimination, and hatred; yet we prevail. We stand united, in solidarity. We love passionately, and we hold our loved ones close.
We will rise above. We will not back down, and we will not falter in our conviction.
We appreciate support from the country, and the world. We just need patience, understanding, and love. We need you to allow us to feel whatever it is we are feeling, and just listen, without judgement, and sometimes without trying to “fix” our feelings.
To the victims in Orlando and to their families and friends: I am here. I am with you. I hear you. I see you. You are all in my heart, and there you will stay.
To my fellow members of the LGBTQ community around the world, we are strong and we will get through this together!
To all of our “allies” who are doing just this…listening, allowing us to feel, and not making it about them, or their political or religious agendas, THANK YOU!
This isn’t about some murderer. This is about love. The people who loved those souls who are gone. The people that THEY loved, and how they were killed because of it.
When we are divided, hate will always win…BUT…when we are united, love will always win.
Here’s to love WINNING!!
Authored by: Kathleen Rucka