The contemporary gay rights movement started 40 years ago during the Stonewall Raid, also known as the Stonewall Riot, where chants of “Liberate the Bar” and “We Shall Overcome” echoed through Manhattan’s West Village in 1969 and continued for six days.
The fight for LGBTQI rights changed on June 25, 2015 when the Supreme Court ruled in a 5-to-4 vote on the legalization of same-sex marriage. Although members of the LGBTQI community have encountered yet another inflicted hindrance in their battle, they have made it clear that they will not be defeated nor divided.
The event at Orlando’s Pulse Nightclub on June 12 was the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. Forty nine people were killed and more than 50 were injured. The physical and emotional destruction that occurred that night was a direct homophobic attack on the LGBTQI Latinx community. The shooter’s intent to harm a specific community in a place that serves as a secure and sheltered haven, a home and a judgment free environment, went unnoticed on several media outlets where the focus gravitated toward the shooter’s identity and religious or non-religious background.
In the days that followed, Pulse united people from all over the world with the hashtag #OrlandoStrong dominating social media sites and TV networks. The nightclub hosted Latin night two weeks after the attack at a nearby restaurant parking lot two miles away from the shooting in remembrance and celebration.
Robin Maynard with the nonprofit organization pulseoforlando.org, spoke to NPR and said: “No man with a gun is going to put people back in the closet. No amount of hate is going to make us afraid. We’re going to come out and celebrate and dance and move forward and laugh and love and be Orlando strong. That’s who we are.”
Toronto, Paris and New York City were among the many cities that showed the power and support of the community and those who stand with it. During the month of June, hundreds marched in the streets for their city’s annual LGBTQI pride parades.
Mass shootings have become a normalized tragedy in my country; they’ve occurred continuously in sacred places that affect us profoundly. To see the insouciance of lives lost and lives hurt is a tragedy in itself. Life should never feel nor be treated this insignificantly.
How many more thoughts and prayers will they send out to the world without action? Without change? The intrusion of a safe place invokes the fear that terrorists seek to imprint on humanity in order to feel powerful and advantageous over others.
Nevertheless the attacks that have occurred in places such as Orlando, Charleston, Paris, Istanbul, San Bernardino and Lebanon, subsequently show love and support that overpowers the dehumanizing malevolence.