Pride month. A month that was supposed to be spent in celebration. A month that up until Saturday, was being spent in celebration. Celebrating the simple right to love, to be a part of a community and to simply exist without oppression.

On Saturday night, that’s exactly what members of the LGBT community were doing during Latin Night at a popular gay club, Pulse, in Orlando.

A nightclub. A place of enjoyment and positivity. A place where LGBT+ people could go and feel accepted, free and quite simply – themselves. A safe place.

A safe place, up until around 2 am. Up until 2 am when a man decided to walk through the doors with an assault rifle in one hand and a handgun in the other, and start firing.

50 were killed and 53 were injured, making this the deadliest mass shooting in U.S history.

This was a hate crime. This was a crime committed by a homophobic man who decided that because he didn’t like how people chose to identify and chose to live, he had the right to take away their lives. Pulse was targeted because it was a gay club and in the process, the entire LGBT+ community was targeted too. I’ll say it again so it sinks in, this was a hate crime.

And please, refrain from bringing religion into this. Terrorism has no religion. This crime was not committed because of his religion, but because of his homophobia which has been made all the more evident as it’s been revealed by his Dad that he was angry after seeing two men kissing prior to the attack. So please, stop the Islamophobia and acknowledge this crime for what it was.

Violence and harassment is a common reality that thousands of LGBT+ people have to deal with every single day and the events of Saturday night have only highlighted this shocking reality even further. Do not allow yourself to be blinded by it.

And it’s worth mentioning too, to the multiple show runners who have been conforming to the Bury Your Gays Trope, that killing your LGBT characters, especially by stray bullets, is not fictitious and is not something that you can defend. By doing this, you are only enforcing what is tragically happening in reality and depriving a community of another safe haven where they were able to find satisfaction and acceptance through representation.

Nobody should have to live in fear because of their sexuality or identification. Nobody should have to fear for their lives. But if something doesn’t change, how can this be stopped? Homophobia does not just offend. It does not just revoke acceptance. It kills. Homophobia has resulted in the deaths of 50 people. And that is exactly why the fight for LGBT rights is far from over.

If you do not speak up, or at the very least refuse to accept the heteronormativity that has been instilled into you, progression will not be made.

Hate cannot triumph. Hate that stems from being unable to come to terms with how a person chooses to love and live. Does that not seem incomprehensible to you? Feeling hatred towards the right to love? Love. Is. Love. And as Lin Manuel-Miranda so beautifully said last night in his Tony acceptance speech: “love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love, cannot be killed or swept aside.”

Progression has to be made. The fight for LGBT rights has got to be fought for.  And I know, that sitting here and writing this may not be resulting and will not match the ability to directly act. That, I know. But we have to raise our voices. We have to be heard. Refusal to act and to speak up and demand for change, demand for what is fundamentally right and humane, that refusal will not benefit anyone. It’s detrimental.

If you’re heterosexual, do not allow homophobic remarks to simply be common language. Challenge it, refuse it, just please do anything but accept it. This is a fight that cannot be fought alone.

If you thought that after the legalisation of gay marriage and quite simply with us just being in the 21st Century that the world was finally an accepting place, then I truly hope that the devastating events in Orlando have opened your eyes. It is far from it. We have to keep moving forward and we cannot allow these events to let us go backwards.

March on with pride and with remembrance of those that have been lost. No one should feel ashamed of who they are. No one should be forced to hide away. No one should feel fear when walking down a street, or into a shopping centre, or into a school, or into a nightclub.

Every single member of the LGBT community deserves better than that. Better than this, than what our world has forced them to have to put up with. Fight for equality. Fight for acceptance. Fight for humanity.

 

You can help to support the victims of the Orlando shooting by donating here.

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