|Photo credit: Impact Hub/Megan McFadden
UPDATE: One year ago we lost 49 people in a hate attack at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando. Let's continue to stand together and support our LGBTQ neighbors.
Thousands of people across the country and throughout the globe are gathering to mourn the latest victims of hate. On June 12, 49 people lost their lives and over a hundred were harmed in an attack on Pulse, a LGBTQ night club in Orlando, Florida. In the final moments, the killer* took the time to call 911 and pledge allegiance to the Islamic state terror organization, ISIL. This horrific attack on Americans had the largest number of casualties since 9/11. This act of terrorism was also a hate crime, fueled by hatred of LGBTQ people.
The killer was an American citizen, born in New York. Although he claimed allegiance to ISIL, law enforcement sources indicate he was not being directed from abroad.
As we mourn those who died and stand with the injured, the people of Orlando, and all victims of hate, we recognize the need to organize and find ways to support LGBTQ people in our communities who may be feeling the fear that terrorism and hate crimes are designed to incite. Sadly, we don't have to look far back to see the consequences of hate violence.
A year ago this week, a white supremacist sat with African American worshipers in Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston South Carolina and then murdered nine people in what was, until now, the deadliest hate crime killing in recent U.S. history. Before that, six people were taken at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in 2012. Hate and fear are all too close to home. But we also know courage. We have seen what can happen when we gather with our neighbors, with those most harmed by hate, bigotry, and violence, and work toward healing and peace.
As Americans, this is what we do when our people are terrorized: we stand with them, we lower our flags, we surround each other. We love one another through the pain and suffering.
As President Obama said in his speech responding to Orlando yesterday, an attack against one is an attack against all:
"As we go together, we will draw inspiration from heroic and selfless acts -- friends who helped friends, took care of each other and saved lives. In the face of hate and violence, we will love one another. We will not give in to fear or turn against each other. Instead, we will stand united, as Americans, to protect our people, and defend our nation, and to take action against those who threaten us."
Hate Crimes Against LGBTQ People Happen Every Day
Hate crimes against LGBTQ people happen every single day in every state. How can we face this trauma so we can deal with it, community by community?
Most attacks against LGBTQ people are not committed by organized hate groups, but by those infected with bigotry who find their targets on streets, in homes and schools. An Atlantic article headline notes the exceptionally large numbers of attacks against members of the LGBTQ community citing research by the Human Rights Campaign: “Extraordinarily Common Violence Against LGBT People in America."
This study from the The Human Rights Campaign Study explores in-depth the great frequency of anti-LGBTQ hate crimes in the United States, why so many go unreported, and the motivation behind these crimes.
Not In Our Town has posted many stories about and from the LGBTQ community detailing struggles against discrimination, reactions to hate, and displays of love, courage, and community support. To read these stories, please click here.