A single man with an assault rifle and a handgun walked into a queer nightclub in Orlando, FL and killed at least 50 people and wounded at least 53 more. He deliberately targeted people for their sexuality: the fact that he struck on a night celebrating Latinx queerness means his victims were overwhelmingly people of color.
My Facebook feed is filled with pain and fear and sorrow and despair. But it’s also filled with wisdom. If you’re a hetero cis person, there are things you and I should be doing right now.
Remember the victims
Remember the heroes
Here is one. There will be many more coming to our attention in the next several days. Celebrate them.
Listen to queer voices
This is our time to amplify their voices, not our own. Listen to them. Learn from them. Bring their voices into your hetero spaces.
Nearly all of the links in this post are from queer people. Listen to them. Hear what they’re saying. Signal boost.
Donate blood – but not just this week, do it next week, or the week after, or a month from now. Blood supplies will be needed for quite some time. And add your voice to those calling for bans on donations from gay men to be lifted.
Donate to funds set up to assist the LGBTQIA community in Orlando. Donate to Orlando-area organizations.
Check in with your queer friends (unless they’ve specifically stated not to). Let them know you love them and you’re there for them. Leave a supportive comment. Share their pain. But don’t make it about your own feels – keep it centered on them. They’re the ones who are hurting the most. You might want to note up front that no response is required: they’re probably pretty overwhelmed right now. Just let them know you love them, and you’re here for them.
Speak up when one of your hetero peers is saying or doing homophobic shit. Don’t stand for it. Vote out politicians who try to win office by demonizing queer folk. Fight terrible legislation like all of these fear-mongering bathroom bills. Boycott bigoted businesses and organizations.
And bloody well apologize for all those times you supported homophobia. Let your friends and family know you’ve learned not to be a bigot and are continuing to confront your own prejudice. Do better.
Do not let people forget that this was a murderer targeting people because they were queer
Too many people are trying to erase the fact that the dead were LGBTQ people murdered for their queerness. Don’t erase their identities. Don’t pretend that we’re all the same. Queer people are in too much danger in this country for us to pretend we’re blind to what made them a target.
Don’t scapegoat Islam
The murderer was a Muslim: he could have just as easily been a white Christian dude. Islam is not uniquely homophobic. Homophobia exists in many religions. Atheists aren’t immune to it, either. So don’t comfort yourself by pretending this was a foreign act. The prejudice and the toxic masculinity that led to this horrific act were completely American.
But don’t let Islam off the hook, either
The murderer was acting on homophobia supported in part by his Islamic beliefs. Many varieties of Islam, just like many varieties of Christianity, are virulently homophobic. We don’t get anywhere by pretending that’s not so. All we do is hurt the queer Muslims and ex-Muslims who are subjected to homophobic attitudes and violence within their communities. Don’t erase their struggle in your effort not to scapegoat Islam. We can be honest about the fact that Islam has a serious problem without implying it’s the only religion harboring homophobic beliefs. And we can acknowledge that Islamic civilizations weren’t always so homophobic without pretending that they’re still just as queer-friendly.
Don’t scapegoat mentally ill people
Seriously. Don’t. Do. It. Hatred is not a mental illness. All that’s required to decide to shoot up a nightclub is the idea that violence will solve a problem or send a message, the determination to do so, and access to guns. Those are all things American culture provides in spades.
Politicize the fuck out of this
Don’t let politicians and hate groups hide behind the plea to not politicize a tragedy. They’ve been politicizing their hate for a long time.
And yes, now is the time to call for gun control. This couldn’t have happened if we didn’t let American citizens legally purchase weapons that can kill dozens or hundreds at a time. Citizens should not have to carry guns while dancing.
Niki said it best on Facebook, and I’m copy-pasting here with her permission:
Dear Straight Allies,
POLITICIZE THE FUCK OUT OF THIS.
Talk about homophobia, transphobia, gun violence, toxic masculinity, the role religion takes in perpetrating this hate. Talk about it now, while the bodies are still warm. Stuff your thoughts and prayers and start talking about shit that actually matters, shit that can be changed, shit that always gets swept under the rug with this “don’t politicize a tragedy” bullshit. Expose those politicians who take money from the NRA, but ‘thoughts and prayers’ every incident of mass gun violence NOW. Cuss out the next homo/transphobic lawmaker who pretends to give a shit right now. Tell your relatives to STFU when they start up with the Islamaphobia NOW. TALK to queer Muslims and ex-Muslims and take your cues from them NOW.
Now is not the fucking time for you to be quiet. You have the fucking privilege. Fucking USE it for some good.
The Queers All Around You.
If you need help coping with this tragedy, please reach out:
If you’re struggling after learning about the shooting in Orlando, and you need to talk to someone, please reach out.
Suicide Prevention Lifeline: (800) 273-8255
Trevor Project: (866) 488-7386
Trans Lifeline: (877) 565-8860
Text an anonymous crisis counselor: 741741
I love you. I am here for you. We will get through this, and we will create a world in which such tragedies will no longer happen.