Today I wake to the news that the worst terrorist attack on American soil since 9/11 and the worst mass shooting in American history have occurred overnight in a gay nightclub. A sole terrorist walked in to the Pulse nightclub and shot in excess of 100 people killing at least 50. Terrorism is part of the world today and groups of innocent people get killed due to terrorism. I will not minimise mass shootings however there was homophobia driving this attack also. While I believe no one is exempt from being caught up in a terrorist attack it seems clear to me that this was both terror and homophobia. A night club having it’s traditional Saturday night LGBTIQ event provided a group of people to be killed. It cannot be overlooked that this was about killing gay people.
As individuals we cannot address terrorism. We can trust our governments are making decisions which reduce our risk of being victims of terrorism. Terrorism is random in its targets that is the very way terrorism works to terrify the minds of society. To increase our everyday levels of fear. However what we can do is make the world a safer place for our LGBTIQ community.
How can we help the LGBTIQ community in the aftermath of this massacre. What do we tell each other? What do we tell our youth? I am dreading the media reports which will tell of people being pleased it was an attack on gay people or that it was ‘god’s’ will/wrath and justifiable because these people were gay. I appreciate these will be in the minority however they touch the hearts and minds of many in the LGBTIQ community. They resonate with me and leave me questioning how many people have similar opinions but don’t whisper the words. Have no doubt those statements will be made and I believe these people and anyone who, even if for a moment in time, considers this to be true are the people we need to educate and help raise awareness about the LGBTIQ community.
What we can do is break down stigma and homophobia elsewhere in our world. We can work to ensure our children are welcomed and understood by their loved ones and in their schools and sporting teams. We can help our LGBTIQ people be safe on nights out. Not safe from terrorism but safe from emotional and physical harm driven by homophobia. These are the things we can and should be doing daily. So we can, hand on heart, tell the community that we are actually making their lives safer. The more of this we can do the safer we all become. Particularly today, if you have a child who is LGBTIQ please tell them you love them, tell them you accept them and tell them you will actively work to make this world a safer place for them. You can do this. The more you can do hopefully the less impact there may be from this horrendous terrorist attack.
My love goes out to everyone affected by this terrible crime. If you need to talk there is a group of listeners (not professionals) at We The Village on Facebook. Feel free to come and join us.