Last night in the early hours of the morning, we lost fifty souls. Fifty. Bright young, happy, queer people who went out to escape the stress of life, to find community, and to gain a sense of sanctuary.
On top of it all, this came during LGBT Pride month, a time for celebrations and pride, not fear and death.
The motivations of the shooter remain opaque. Though he claimed to be acting as an agent of ISIS, he also chose to attack a queer space, potentially blending a hate crime along with domestic terrorism. And now recent reports suggest his presence in queer spaces, potentially as a participant.
But whatever the motivations, we cannot afford to remain here in silence accepting the fact that the largest mass shooting in modern American history was inflicted upon the LGBT community during their time of revelry. The point was to provoke fear, to terrorize a community because one insecure man was offended by two men kissing. The price of this insecurity had been fifty lives; fifty shattered families and another fifty-three wounded.
Their lives cannot be in vain. Their memories can not be forgotten. These young people, taken far too soon must not be used as a rallying cry for us to retreat to our respective political camps and argue and get nothing done. Instead we must lean into that very genuine and very human feeling: love. It was love that caused outpourings of blood donations; love that started a gofundme account; love has united our community across this nation and the world. Love destroys the arbitrary barriers we put between ourselves and love is the very same force that will keep us from devolving into hatred and blaming. Only when we have filled ourselves with love can we together, as humans, make the changes necessary to stop such hatred, violence, and bloodshed.