It has been difficult to form words about the horrific attack at Pulse nightclub. I have cried many times. I have painted. I stood and sang with my community at more than one candlelight vigil. But my words have stumbled over my mourning heart. 49 members of my LGBTQ family were viciously murdered, and another 53 were injured- all for daring to love. I say this because the tragedy at Pulse is a terrible reminder that it is still a daring act for queer people to express love in this country. Love for each other, love for ourselves, love for our community, love for who we are.
We are all in danger. And while we are strong, many of us are afraid. Afraid to hold hands walking down the street. Afraid our families will reject, harm, or kick us out if we do not hide our identities (approximately 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ, compared to approx. 7% of the general youth population). Afraid we might lose our jobs if our bosses find out who we kiss when we’re off the clock (because it is still legal to fire someone for being gay or transgender in 28 states). And now, afraid of our own spaces. The clubs, bars, and Pride celebrations we have called home, the places that have made us feel validated, given us family, and a place to be completely, authentically ourselves are no longer safe.
It is easy to be silenced by this fear. But it is so important not to be. And I am so proud of all my Albuquerque community has done in response to Orlando. Candlelight vigils, bake sales, queer dance parties, quilt-making, and poetry slams to raise funds for the victims and their families are just a few examples of our resilience, and they give me hope.
It can be difficult to know what step to take next when a tragedy like this occurs, but it is important to remember this is far from the only problem LGBTQ people face. Pulse is an amplified result of the less-noticed, less-publicized violence queer people experience every single day. If you yourself are wondering what you can do to help the LGBTQ community, I have compiled a list of links below to some local (Albuquerque) events, national petitions you can sign and share, and organizations you can contribute to, as a start.
I won’t pretend to have a perfect solution, but I do know that our community has incredible strength, and when we come together, there is nothing we are incapable of. I will continue to fight for justice as long as I am breathing, and I will honor the victims of the Pulse shooting by thriving, dancing, and loving even louder.
Quilts for Orlando in Albuquerque:
Petition to lift the blood donation ban on gay and bisexual citizens: https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/lift-blood-donation-ban-gay-and-bisexual-us-citizens
Pulse Tragedy Community Fund:
Pulse of Orlando non-profit:
The Orlando Youth Alliance (providing safe spaces to GLBTQ youth):
The Trevor Project (resources and suicide-prevention hotline for LGBTQ youth):
True Colors Fund (working to end homelessness among LGBTQ youth):
CAIR, a Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization dedicated to enhancing understanding and ending Islamophobia (we must resist the media’s attempts to pit two vulnerable communities against one another by using the homophobic attack at Pulse as an excuse to attack Muslims):
See if your senator voted for background checks, and call or email their office to share your opinion:
Coalition to Stop Gun Violence:
Moms Demand Action (gun violence):