Orlando

Cover of the UK Metro newspaper, 14th June 2016

Cover of the UK Metro newspaper, 14th June 2016In the early hours of the morning of Sunday 12th June 2016, a gunman opened fire at the gay nightclub Pulse in Orlando, Florida, killing at least 49 people and injuring dozens before he was shot dead by police. Last night a vigil in Soho, London (and many others across the country) showed that the UK LGBTQ community and its allies stand with the survivors of this horrible massacre and with the families of those who were killed.

It is evident that the mainstream media’s focus on the religion of the gunman is largely irrelevant in a country where gun murders and mass shootings are so frighteningly common, and where every single killer is male. How can anyone look at the gun violence statistics and claim that more guns is the answer? Many people have written about the tragedy already, but the most poignant piece I have read so far is from Melissa Gira Grant writing for Pacific Standard:

The grieving is not only for dancing, or for a sense of place — though these are the same places, the bars and clubs, that are disappearing from our cities and towns at the same time as we are told LGBT rights have been achieved. The grieving is for the lives stolen from us, and also for the possibility found where bodies gather in full life and power. Whatever else this massacre is about, or will be made about by the more powerful, it is about denying the possibility of queer and trans lives in public.

She reminds us that this is about queer spaces and queer people of colour. It’s not an attack on all of us, and it’s important not to forget that. As Owen Jones explained in The Guardian “this was homophobia as well as terrorism. It is not enough to simply condemn violence: we have to understand what it is and why it happened.” The LGBTQ community should cry and mourn, but we should also remember that love will triumph over hate. My queer friends and allies on Twitter have shared many uplifting messages of hope and heartwarming photos in the last 12 hours. I’m sure this outpouring of love and support for Orlando will continue to grow.

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Image of bisexual pride flag by Peter Salanki.
Image via Martin Thomas' Flickr photostream.