The mass shooting in Orlando has dominated the news cycle for the past three days, and with good reason. This incident is a multi-faceted issue with many angles to it. However, despite all of the talking points and information about mass shootings in the United States, the part of the story that saddens me is the motive behind it. It was a hate crime, pure and simple, against the LGBTQ community.
The shootings occurred just after 2 a.m. on Sunday morning, when a man walked into a gay nightclub, Pulse, and opened fire, killing at least 50 people and injuring many more. Even if witnesses weren’t physically hurt, the emotional pain they are likely experiencing is more than I can comprehend, seeing their friends shot in front of them. It is an emotional scar they will carry with them for the rest of their lives.
June marks Pride Month in the United States, with many cities hosting celebrations in honour of the LGBTQ movement. And it is a movement that has made some strides in the past half century. July 2 will mark the 11th anniversary of the Civil Marriage Act being passed in Canada, legalizing gay marriage. The United States granted the same rights to its LGBTQ citizens not even a year ago. But this needless attack on the community, which is the largest mass shooting in the US’s bloody history, proves that the fight is not over. It’s far from it.
The victims of the Orlando shootings weren’t just members of the LGTBQ community – they were people, everyday normal people with families and jobs and hobbies. They had mothers and fathers who will mourn their deaths for years, and siblings who lost their best friends. They had social circles, careers and futures, all of which impacted their community, both in Orlando and outside of it. They are mourned not only because they were members of the LGBTQ community but also because they were a part of a greater community.
People around the world have gathered to honour those lost in this shooting, with events in major cities, including London and Toronto, among many others. I would wager that in today’s world, everyone knows someone identifying as LGBTQ, and therefore everyone knows someone affected by this weekend’s sad news. If you do, I would urge you to reach out and support them. Love is love. If anyone is lucky enough to find it in someone, regardless of gender, it should be celebrated.