If you’ve been living under a rock you won’t have heard about the horrific events in Orlando early last Sunday morning. 49 people were shot dead, and more than 50 injured. These were gay victims in a gay club, and yet it has been widely ignored that this was a homophobic attack.
As of now I feel hopeless. I’m afraid, and I feel out of control. But above all I’m angry. Mostly angry at the person who caused this heinous thing to happen, but also at the way in which this is simply not being talked about.
I’ve yet to mention here that I fall under the LGBTQ+ umbrella. I was originally going to approach this in a different manner but, in light of recent events, a jokey listpost featuring The L Word just doesn’t feel appropriate. Enough about me, and more on that soon.
Perhaps the most concerning thing that’s come of the last few days is the palpable lack of comment from straight people. When I’m on social media, it’s more than likely my blog’s twitter account, where an overwhelming percentage of people I follow are LGBTQ+ or at least bloody great allies. Being in this bubble of support made it seem at first that this kind of coverage, this united grieving and need for action, was unanimous. Only on checking back into everyday life is it evident that, all in all, nothing is being said. The people who were so passionate for social justice and love and equality when attacks hit Paris and Brussels have gone. And this is not to involve other events – all tragedies are tragedies – but I’ve seen more public grief over a gorilla in the last few weeks than the murder of 50 people. I’ve spoken to loved ones who, at best, are using #lovewins for ‘that cool new emoji’ and, at worst, making comments that - all intentions aside – perpetuate the ignorance that is keeping this whole situation so damn misinformed.
No matter what excuses or religious scaremongering may be spread throughout the media, this was a hate crime. This took place on a Latinx night in a gay club. This was an attack on LGBTQ+ people and POC. Failing to acknowledge this is turning your back on these communities and ignoring the privilege that you hold to carry on with your life without fear. Yet, for many, this privilege is a free pass to ignore the topic completely. Talking about this fully and openly, whilst not simultaneously outing myself, has proven hard. Because heaven forbid I get too passionate about LGBTQ rights. And that’s the scary thing - the fact that you are immediately assumed to be gay if you care about this attack in any shape or form says what nothing else can.
But what next? One particular resource that has been really helpful is Hannah Hart’s video made in light of this weekend. Her reaction, simultaneously so passionate and eloquent, is what really needs to be considered in asking how to progress from here. She includes a wealth of resources in the video description, linking to ways we can act against the current gun laws. Some of these may be more difficult for us non-US folk, but an email or tweet – or just spreading the word – does more than even the most well-meaning ‘thoughts and prayers’ ever could. Standing proud may not be possible for all of us at all times, but we need to remember these people who were killed so senselessly, and whose warped media coverage is only contributing to the heteronormativity and self-hatred which causes these tragedies in the first place. Let us do the only thing we can in the aftermath, which is to act against this hatred and the USA’s incredibly, incredibly flawed system.
Inequality did not end with marriage laws. This is real and this is here, and we can’t let it happen again.