We at the Lead On Network are devastated and saddened by the horrible events at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida on Sunday morning. Reports state that 49 people were killed and 53 are injured. It is being called the deadliest shooting in American history. We at the Lead On Network agree whole heartedly with President Obama that this “was an act of terror and an act of hate.”
Regardless of the specific motivations of the killer, what is clear is his choice of target: the LGBTQ+ community. In cities across the country, June is a month for Pride; it is a time for celebration and solidarity. In the movement toward inclusion and tolerance, LGBTQ+ nightclubs have a standing history as a place of safety, affirmation, and empowerment. Unfortunately, on Sunday, one man decided that 103 people in Orlando were not worthy of respect, were not worthy of their humanity, and were not worthy of their lives.
Extremist beliefs have been and continue to be used to justify hate crimes, and this kind of violence — a hate-motivated attack against LGBTQ individuals — is far too common. It has become so ubiquitous that more than 54% of LGBTQ individuals say they’re concerned about being the victim of a hate crime. Anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric and violence-laden sentiments are a common part of American culture. We see it in people’s homes, on the streets, in schools, and sadly in our economic and political institutions.
This recurring pattern of devaluing and dehumanizing people who are LGBTQ+ or Latinos, like those who were enjoying their night out at Pulse in Orlando, or any other marginalized group, is the heart of America’s problem. As Americans, we cannot say that we care for the rights of any individuals unless we speak out against hatred, bigotry, and discrimination in all its forms; unless we work to assure justice for all people, and unless we recognize the value of every person’s life.
Violence is the legacy of intolerance, and the status quo is unacceptable.
At this time of crisis, we recognize that the divisive impact of all forms of bigotry and prejudice, and affirm and celebrate human diversity. We are all in this together.
Lastly, while we share in the grief of a nation at this preventable loss of life, let us continue to reshape our nation and take action to create a space that is steeped in the core values of inclusion, tolerance and love.
Let us continue to gather and to celebrate our true selves remembering the words of Harvey Milk, that all people “regardless of sexual orientation or identity deserve a safe and supportive environment in which to achieve their full potential.”
Let us demand action to avert such acts of horror as took place this Sunday, and call on policymakers to address access to the tools of such violence, such as the acquisition of a weapon that lets someone shoot large numbers of people. Our task must also be to organize against any policymakers that have used hate as a platform and who continue to take the concerns of the gun lobby more seriously than that of the American people. We must also call on them, and all Americans, to examine and take action against the underlying issues of intolerance, discrimination, and hate that not only exist but have been amplified in our political, economic, and social systems.
One of our favorite intersectional leaders, Danielle Moodie-Mills said it best,
“It’s not enough for us to be outraged today and ignore the fact that we have the power to stop this type of carnage and disrespect.
Our power is our voice.
Our power is our vote.
Together we win.”