By now we know the bare bones details. Twenty nine year old American, Omar Mateen entered the Orlando, FL nightclub Pulse around 2 am on June 12, 2016 and killed 50 people and wounded 53 others. Before the attack Mateen called 911 and expressed fealty to ISIS. His father said he was disgusted by the sight of 2 gay men kissing. He was under investigation by the FBI. He bought the handgun and the AR-15 assault rifle legally within the week of the attack. An off duty police officer working at the club exchanged gunfire with Mateen. After a three hour standoff, during which frightened club patrons call and message friends and relatives, police crashed into the building with an armored vehicle and stun grenades and killed the shooter. It was the largest mass shooting by a single shooter in recent US History.
As I read about the shooting Sunday morning, I couldn’t help but think how easily my wife and I could have been one of these victims. We were considering going out to a gay club that same evening to celebrate Pride weekend. Our friends Ryan and Molly had invited us out, but we opted to stay home. It was a sobering thought that had this monster been here in Milwaukee instead of Orlando, if we had decided not to stay in, we could easily be the ones frantically calling or texting our loved ones, telling them we were about to die.
But what is more sobering is how easily this happened, and how it is likely to happen again. This is a tragedy born of other tragedies.
The thing is, I don’t care whether Omar Mateen did what he did because he was homophobic/transphobic or a religious extremist (though let’s be realistic and recognize one often begets the other). Killing 50 people and wounding another 53 is inexcusable, but so is not allowing any sort of gun regulations in a country where we can’t go more than a day between public shootings.
So is creating a climate of hatred/discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community through laws on the basis of “religious freedom”. Telling us not to politicize this tragedy is callous when our legislators and lawmakers politicize our love & our identities.
The same goes for banning gay men from donating blood to save the lives of their queer brothers & sisters, out of fear of a disease that we’ve had more 35 years to study/treat.
So is condemning and fostering xenophobic attitudes against innocent Muslims in the wake of one person’s hateful actions.
Also inexcusable is being angry/frustrated/fed up/saddened/broken-hearted about this tragedy and not doing more than making a social media post commiserating with like minded friends & family members.
Take some positive action. Write your political/religious leaders. Support your LGBTQ+ community & other minorities that are subject to this kind of hatred & violence.
Donate time/money/compassion/resources to the victims or their families. Speak out against homophobia/transphobia/Islamiphobia/gun violence etc. when you see it or hear it, especially when it makes you uncomfortable. Please consider checking out these links:
https://www.gofundme.com/PulseVictimsFund (A fundraiser for victims of the shooting)
http://www.thecenterorlando.org (Orlando LGBT Community Center)
http://www.cityoforlando.net/blog/victims/ (A list of the victims)
http://csgv.org (Coalition to Stop Gun Violence)
http://www.isna.net (Islamic Society of North America)
And remember, take care of one another.