Charlottesville, VA – June 12, 2016
In response to the tragedy of the mass shooting at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, we offer our heartfelt compassion, sympathy for the sorrows of those injured and slain.
This was the largest mass shooting in U.S. history. It is not the first one against the LGBTQ community, however. In fact, LGBTQ people face the threat as well as the expression of violence of varying levels on a daily basis. This is particularly true of transgender people and LGBTQ people of color here in the U.S., as well as those of us living in especially hostile regions and countries. No strangers to fears of physical harm and social exclusion, we are used to supporting each other, and in this aftermath, too, we will gather together as a community.
But this is also not the first expression of gun violence against a historically marginalized minority group. This act represents yet another act of terror and hate that has afflicted our community, our country, and our world again and again.
We all share in this tragedy, and we hope that we can all share in the hope and actions it will take to help us heal as a society and to work to prevent more of the same.
Hatred in any form and against any group cannot be tolerated in a civil society. We can disagree, differ, argue, debate — issues and ideologies — but whatever our differences, we cannot allow our positions and beliefs to translate into the type of emotional hate of fellow Americans (or humans) that justifies unethical, unequal, and violent treatment of other human beings. We must work to understand that small acts and words that encourage the defamation, shaming, maligning, damning of others, however small or seemingly innocuous – that ignorance and discrimination – have longterm effects.
Let all of us learn to speak of and treat each other with respect and kindness characteristic of our best selves. Let us decide that the only thing we cannot tolerate is the intolerance that creates the kind of environment that sanctions this kind of violence.
Do your part to speak truth to ignorance and peace to violence. Speak up against hate and intolerance. Be an ally – not just to LGBTQ people, but to any who are deemed unworthy or Other – including people of Islamic faith. Be an advocate for civility. We must each practice nonviolence if we want to see it flourish.
Join us Monday evening, June 13th, at 7:30 p.m. at the Free Speech Wall in Charlottesville, VA.