For the past few days, I’ve been riddled with overwhelming emotions. Hurt, anguish, resentment, anger. The list goes on and on. I had these same emotions during the 9/11 attacks, the Boston Marathon bombing, the attack on Paris and the attack on Brussels. But the attacks in Orlando really hit me deeply because it was an intentional attack on the gay community. During the early morning of June 12, 49 innocent people lost their lives because a selfish bigot (who witnessed a same-sex couple kissing) decided he was going to violently rid the world of as much of the gay community as he possibly could. He wasn’t worried about losing his own life, just so long as he could carry out his act of terror.
It doesn’t matter to me that the shooter was Muslim. Timothy McVeigh wasn’t Muslim; Dylan Roof, who shot up a black church last year, wasn’t Muslim. They were simply disturbed men who thought they could take matters into their own hands by committing ruthless acts of violence. And that’s exactly what the Orlando shooter did.
But I’m not going to focus on the shooter. I’m going to focus on the victims. They were out to have a good time. They were drinking. They were dancing. They were celebrating. And then, in the blink of an eye, they were running for their lives. A night of celebration turned into a night of terror, all because one person had witnessed something they didn’t like. Every day I see things I don’t like. A dog walker who doesn’t clean up the mess their pet has just left behind. The bright light of a cell phone during a movie in the theater. Justin Bieber. Heck, I’m very vocal on my distaste for him, but that doesn’t mean I wish death upon him. I don’t wish death upon anyone.
To be clear, I don’t have a problem with guns or people owning them. I have family members in North Carolina who hunt for sport. What I do have a problem with is the wrong kind of people owning the wrong kind of guns and using them for the wrong reasons.
As a member of the LGBT community, I’d like to send my deepest thoughts, prayers and condolences to the friends and family of the victims in Orlando. You are now and will always be in our hearts.