I don’t normally post things like this but after the events of today, I felt the need to say something, anything at all. The events of today have hit home in such a diverse and varied way that I could no longer stay silent.
First there are guns. This is a complex debate – one with many different sides and viewpoints – and while many of us wish it could be solved overnight, there is no easy fix. Everyone has a different idea of what to do with gun laws, quoting facts and figures from other countries around the world as well as quoting our own constitution. My personal opinion: I do not like guns. But I will not let that persuade me from listening any less to advocates of other gun-involved solutions. However, I will stand by one statement: Guns are not the answer and never should be. To those against gun violence, I stand with you.
Then there is the Islam piece. It is so upsetting to unfortunately still see the lack of understanding between Islam and extremism. They are not the same and they never will be. Extremists may be of any religion, any political viewpoint, any personal or violent agenda. The man who attacked those in Orlando was an extremist. His actions should not taint the Islamic religion, a religion that has led so many individuals to helping human kind in such a wonderful way, such as Muhammad Ali who we have honored in his recent passing. Violence is not one of the five pillars of Islam and should never be confused to be one. To my Islam friends, I stand with you.
Again and again we have voiced the anthem: the conversation on mental health needs to be far louder than ever before. As someone who has dealt with depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues throughout my life, I know first hand there is no easy answer to this. Mental health problems are difficult. They hurt. Even admitting to them or acknowledging them is a difficult step. We are so inclined to sweep them under the rug and hope that they do not resurface. But they always do. In this time, we must work even harder to offer help to those who need it and reach out for help if we need it ourselves. To those who have dealt with mental health issues and continue to fight through them, I stand with you.
An issue that has barely been raised during this time, but it still fresh in many of our minds following the Brock Turner verdict, is violence and abuse. The ex-wife of the Orlando attacker described the abuse he put her through, with no voice to prevent it except via divorce. Far too many women I know, myself included, have dealt with harassment, assault, abuse, and violence, with no voice to speak out against it and no safe environment to share their stories. In the wake of the backlash regarding Brock Turner’s verdict, it warms my heart to see people uniting and pushing back to say “this is not okay”. But this just one case, and the road to ending abuse is just beginning to be paved. To all women and men who have dealt with abuse and harassment, I stand with you.
And here’s the big one. The nightclub was a gay club. The conversation would be different if this was any place else. But hate continues. And even when great strides are being made to make the world safer and better for every single individual, there are those who cannot tolerate the happiness of others and strike out in ways that hurt so many more. As someone who is bisexual, I am very comfortable in myself. I have never been loud about my sexuality but I am comfortable and open about it. It has taken years to get to this point, with many roadblocks along the way, but I finally believed we had turned a corner as a nation to true tolerance and even acceptance. It has been so long since I have felt such heartache and sadness that such hate still exists against one group of people. People who just want to be loved and be allowed to love who they want. I stand in mourning for all those lost in Orlando and across the country as hate continue. But never before have I wanted to raise the Pride flag so high and say that I will not be afraid and I will not stand down and I will not let hate smother me into silence. As Pride month continues, let our voices be hard strong, loud, and together. To all those in the LGBTQ community, I stand with you.
Thank you to the police, the FBI, the various heroes of the story that are often forgot in the media. The responders who transported victims to hospitals, who rescued those held hostage, who accounted for those lost, who responded quickly and effectively to this and other recent tragedies such as that at UCLA, and who prevented more from occurring such as at the LA Pride Parade today. To those silent heroes, I stand with you.
Lastly, to all those who lost loved ones in this tragedy, you are not forgotten. Your loss has sent ripples across this nation that hopefully will turn into waves that will bring about real change. A tragedy like this is the worst in the nation’s history and that should not be taken lightly. You do not deserve the grief you are being put through. To all those who have lost someone, I stand with you.
Consider this a quiet anthem calling for change, calling for action, calling for a stop to these tragedies that continue to breed hate across our soil. But in the face of this sadness, we must stand together and unite our voices into one chorus. Make this world better, not worse. Inspire love, not hate. Stand together, not apart.