Interview: Perspectives From the LGBTQ Community in the Wake of the Orlando Massacre

Interview: Perspectives From the LGBTQ Community in the Wake of the Orlando Massacre

#PulseOrlandoShooting

Published June 14th

On Sunday, June 12 at approximately 2 a.m. an American gunman walked into an Orlando nightclub armed with an AR-15 and a semi-automatic handgun, opening fire on a crowd of over 300 people, murdering 49 and injuring 53 others before he died. The assailant held the patrons hostage for over three hours until he was killed by a Florida SWAT team. The massacre is being investigated as a potential terrorist attack and hate crime, as members of the LGBTQ community were felled during the month-long Pride celebrations being held nationally.

Mass shootings (wherein more than four people are murdered) have become routine as of late, averaging an attack every 63 days. Even the response has become routine, following the tragedy a painfully patented step-by-step sequenced is conducted.

Mainstream media’s news cycle is dominated by coverage replete with live feeds and updated body counts; statements are made by local police, federal investigators and elected officials; tearful accounts are taken from survivors of the attack; promises are made to notify families about the whereabouts or demise of their loved ones; social media posts are updated with offerings of prayer, support, outrage, and indignant vitriol; POTUS makes a speech; calls for gun reform are made. Then, time passes and nothing substantive is done to prevent another shooting from occurring 63 days later.

Those victimized by mass shootings cross the spectrum: movie patrons, prayer groups, undergraduates and kindergartners alike. Particularly troubling, marginalized groups are becoming the primary targets for these attacks: Muslim students in North Carolina, and now LGBTQ revelers in Florida. Communities often under served by lacking federal protections and policies, left to grieve, their frustrations largely ignored save for ratings sweeps, families and loved ones now with vacancies in their homes, and no hope of restitution, restoration, or resolution.

Pathetically, federal research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention into how gun violence impacts our friends, families, neighborhoods, and communities — American society as a whole — has been banned by Congress. It is maddening to think that organizations vehemently advocating for gun rights can exist, while American citizens are dying with increasing frequency. This frustration is only compounded by the influence the National Rifle Association, gun lobbies and private interest groups contributing to the campaigns of legislators and current political candidates.

How long should our nation endure these events, with textbook phenomena of legally purchased assault rifles, extremist ideologies, and unchecked male egos? Is this the America we want to accept, wherein no one is safe to shop, dine, pray, or party without fear of being gunned down? Why is the response to national outcry tone-deaf justifications from inept bureaucrats? When are the surviving voices of the assaulted going to be recognized, acknowledged and carefully considered?

For far too long, the congress of thoughts and court of public opinions from those unaffected by these human rights atrocities have drowned out those from the communities being persecuted. Not this time. Not today.

I reached out to my fellow artists, writers and comedy comrades, friends and colleagues, to ask for their insights on what has been occurring in our nation, specifically Orlando. The following are perspectives gathered from interviews conducted with self-identified members of the LGBTQ community in response to the #PulseOrlando massacre.

Chelsea Shorte|@chikachels | 28 y/o; Black; Queer; Woman; Genderqueer; Lesbian; Masculine of center; Comedian/software developer; Washington, D.C.

What are your thoughts on the Orlando shooting?

There are many, mostly an incredible sadness. Most of my tears are sad. Some are angry.

I feel protective because they were mine and are ours. I feel vulnerable because I am them and my family is them.

I was at a party exactly like that in Orlando on Thursday here in D.C. A Latino Pride party with loud music, performances, photos and we were happy and so proud.

There is nothing [preventing] this from happening again. There is a great sense of it could have been me.

Why do you think your community was specifically targeted?

Aren't we always? Consider the bills passing in municipalities; I think I read like 200 anti-LGBT bills have been entered for debate across the country this year, or over this past year.

Latinos in this country are facing incredible xenophobia. These men and women were at the intersection of that, and they dared be happy.

Son of Baldwin said something to the effect of, before we knew the identity of the shooter we knew it could have been anyone because they all hate us, it could have been a white supremacist, it could have been Christian supremacist, a homophobe, and Islamic extremist, a xenophobe.

What do you think of the implication that this was a terrorist attack by an ISIS sympathizer?

I don't think it gets to the root of the issues our country faces to lay the only responsibility on Islamic extremism. We have a country-wide culture that hates trans and gay people, hates brown people, hates femininity performed by women and men. We have a country that will not ban the most terrorizing guns, the ones that are easy to shoot and hold so much ammunition.

There is overlap in the way ISIS wants to treat gay people and the way the U.S. does treat gay people.

 Have you ever heard of this?

What I darkly take solace in, in 1973 after this arson, the families of the people who died in the fire, those families didn't come claim the bodies. From then to now that's changed, thank God.

Why do you think that is?

I think they didn't claim the bodies in short because they hated us. In more specific terms, i.e. “What does hate look like in practice,” they were ashamed. They were ashamed of having a gay person in the family.

Or maybe they cut their son, daughter, brother, sister off long before the fire and didn't care, maybe some people didn't know their family member had died. Maybe they didn't want people to know they had a gay son or daughter.

“Why has it changed?” Because gay people have worked damned hard to convince people who are not gay that we are worthy of life.

I read an article recently about a documentary on teenage trans and queer people in D.C. that were abandoned by their families and made homeless. So they formed gangs to protect one another from being victimized by people via sex trafficking and violence.

Gangs? Maybe. Is it a gang if the entire world is against them? Their only hope for survival is to fight back… that same sentiment 40 years after the fire, and longer.

How do you feel about this attack being carried out during LGBTQ Pride Month?

I think it was very intentional. I don't know all the facts of the case, they are still investigating.

But the father [said] the perp. saw gays kissing in Miami… but then he drove to Orlando?

You can find gay people in Miami. You can find Latinos in Miami. You can find gay Latinos in Miami, why did he drive four hours?

It could only have been premeditated. Idk, I'm angry. I'm looking for evidence and s**t when it's not there or in the wrong places. That's what terrorism is, to scare people from living their lives.

I can only think it was on everyone's mind at the festival in D.C., which was the day we all learned this had happened, and then the LA Pride near-attack, you know they stopped a guy with explosive material and guns and rounds making his way to LA Pride to harm people?’

Holy s**t.

Appears to be a white dude. So can't blame that on ISIS, it must be a culture.

What steps would you like to see taken in the wake of this tragedy?

Ban all guns. Ban all guns. Like I'm done. Every last one. Done.

I'm not playing. Not even hunting, my dude. Want to hunt? Play a video game. They are getting more lifelike all the time. Jobs or lives, the gun economy or lives?

What kind of policies or practices do you think would better protect LGBTQ people?

There are so many. Teach our history in schools, allow trans people not just to use the bathroom, but [provide] health care they need, hire trans people, and protect them from workplace harassment and undue termination.

Protect our youth. Provide for them, let them go to school in safe environments. Let us live…what protects LGBTQ Americans protects us all. Gun control will protect us all.

Is there anything we haven’t discussed that you’d like to share?

I guess there's a sense of, "This means YOU!"

You know what I mean, like with Black Lives Matter there are always some white people who think, "Nah, they're not talking about me, I'm one of the good ones."

No, we mean you. We can't really do much about living our lives and being gunned down.

Gay people have worked really hard over the last few years to earn our civil rights. Trans and gay people work on immigration, they advocate for minimum wage workers, the advocate to victims of sexual assault, prison reform.

Of course Black lives, because the women who founded BLM are queer Black women. They advocate for victims of sexual assault, we even fought for the right to protect you by repealing don't ask don't tell, over last few years… decades.

Don't forget that these were Latino men and women, and Black men and women because you can be both. It's important that we recognize who they are.

So yes, I mean YOU.

Manny Jimenez|@ mSOfreshDC | 32 y/o; Latino; Gay; Hair salon manager/customer service consultant; Washington, D.C.

What role does religion play in your identity?

Not a major one. My parents always taught me to love and respect everyone around me. To treat people as I would want to be treated. I try to live my life that way.

What are your thoughts on the Orlando shooting?

I think it was a senseless tragedy, an utter disregard [for] human life. It is hard to believe that someone could be filled with so much hate and ignorance to commit such a heinous crime.

What do you think of the implication that this was a terrorist attack by an ISIS sympathizer?

I think that it is no different than any other attack. Terrorist-led or individual-led attack. It is hateful. It is hurtful.

But I have to say, how can we expect something different when we have born and bred Americans who preach hate and ignorance, who judge other Americans just based on the color of their skin, on their gender, on their sexual orientation?

How can we expect different when we have presidential candidates saying things like, "If more people had guns, this attack would not have happened"?

What do we expect? We must first start embracing all the differences that exist among our very own American people. We must treat everyone in our country with love and respect before we expect people from other countries to do so. It's not about demanding, it's about leading, showing them how.

Why do you feel your community was targeted?

In this situation, I think we were an easy target. The man disagreed with our way of life, yet he must have known that it was Pride Month and that events were happening all around the country.

It is very unusual for any violence to break out during Pride events. Even here, in our nation's capital, police presence is not prevalent. Although they do have some presence to make sure any protesters do not get out of hand, it is not much.

The LGBTQ community gathers to celebrate love and equality. It was only a year ago this month that the SCOTUS ruled that it was legal for us to marry in all 50 states. All we want, just like every other minority group, is to be treated like equal Americans.

I think we were just an easy target this time, easy enough to target, to use to make a statement of hate.

How do you feel about this attack being carried out during LGBTQ Pride Month?

I feel that all this man wanted to do was make a statement of hate in a month where all we like to do is celebrate our right to love anyone we choose.

My heart hurts for the family, friends and loved ones of those that had to die for this man to get enough attention to spread more ignorance and hate.

What steps would you like to see taken in the wake of this tragedy?

I think gun control laws must be stricter. I would like to see mental evaluations become a part of gun licensing… thorough mental evaluation.

What kind of policies or practices do you think would better protect LGBTQ people?

Again, I have to say that it's all on better gun control laws. I know it was our community that was attacked in this instance; we are not the only victims here. Humans were attacked. This goes beyond sexual orientation and gender identity. Those that were murdered and injured were human first, then part of the LGBTQ community.

Not to downplay my race or sexual orientation, but I identify as human.

Is there anything we haven’t discussed that you’d like to share, or that you would like people to understand?

I would love the world to understand that we are born the same. We all love the same. We should embrace each other. Show each other compassion and understanding. Support and uplift each other in every way we can.

Do you feel any type of way about the Latino community being primarily victimized by this tragedy?

No. I feel horrified that humans were victimized by this tragedy, just as I did when Sandy Hook, the Boston Marathon, the Charleston Church, and so many other senseless tragedies happen. We lost more innocent lives at the hands of hate and ignorance.

MK Paulsen| @mkpaulsen| 31 y/o; White/German; Gay; Comedian; Austin, Texas

What faith do you practice, if any?

I believe that a person's capacity to love is a direct reflection of God and a greater power. Some people think that being gay and believing in God would be in conflict. To me, however, it seems that God wants me to be happy, to love freely, and to put others before myself.

I don't think the fact that I am attracted to men negates the existence of a higher power, but instead reinforces the idea that I am supposed to love deeply.

What are your thoughts on the Orlando shooting?

I can't fathom the terror inside that room and what it must have felt like. It brings tears to my eyes just to think of it. I don't understand how there is still so much hate out there for just about every minority group in this country. And I don't understand how we can continue to live in such a violent country.

I hope those 50 souls that passed in Orlando shine over us and remind us to love one another and live with pride. I don't know that we deserve it, though, and that is really what I am grappling with right now. I keep asking myself how we could let this happen as a society and as a country. It just doesn't make sense.

Can you expand on what you mean when you say, "I don't know that we deserve it"?

I'm struggling with what I mean by that also. I suppose I want forgiveness and help and guidance and love from God to get through this. But right now all I can think of is how we failed those 50 men and women. I'm not sure that we deserve anything from a higher power right now.

Do you think this was a terrorist attack or a hate crime?

From what I know and understand at the moment, it seems for sure a hate crime, and probably also a terrorist attack.

What do you think of the implication that this was a terrorist attack by an ISIS sympathizer?

It bothers me to think that their influence is so large. But I also will not live in fear. I fully believe that ISIS can be rooted out and stopped.

Why do you feel your community was targeted?

Well the easy answer is that we are a small part of the population that acts differently than the broader population. I think that makes us an easy target. But more broadly, I truly believe that living honest, open, and authentic lives scares some people.

While people may think a lot of different things about the LGBT community, at the end of the day my truth is not up for debate and I am going to live my life as I was meant to.

How do you feel about this attack being carried out during LGBTQ Pride Month?

It hurts, but from what I can tell it hasn't deterred the community from being proud LGBT citizens at all. If anything we are being more proud to honor those that were lost.

What steps would you like to see taken in the wake of this tragedy?

I would like to see an absolute ban on assault rifles.

What kind of policies or practices do you think would better protect LGBTQ people?

I think conservative legislators need to stop fanning the flame on anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and legislation. I also think that the FBI, CIA and other law enforcement agencies need to start thinking more about preventing hate-motivated terrorist attacks against minority groups. The LGBTQ community is an easy target and measures should be put in place that focus on preventing these kind of attacks.

Is there anything we haven’t discussed that you’d like to share, or that you would like people to understand?

I worry that the LGBTQ community is often forgotten and disregarded. We were forgotten in the '80s during the AIDS epidemic when thousands of gay men were left to die.

I hope that going forward we do not see that same kind of irreverence towards LGBTQ people, especially in the wake of this shooting. I hope we always remember those that were lost at Pulse. We are an important part of this society and we deserve and demand the same protections and respect as any other group in this country.

Sydnee Washington | @Justsydnyc | 31 y/o; African-American; Lesbian; Comedian; Brooklyn, New York

What faith do you practice, if any?

I was raised Baptist for all of my childhood. I believe in God but I’m not a practicing Christian. I was raised that God loves all his "children" and gays are included in that.

What are your thoughts on the Orlando shooting?

Absolutely horrible, just when I think things can’t get any worse, it does.

Everyone went to that nightclub to have a good time, celebrate all types of sexualities, genders, and race. It was ruined in such a horrific way.

I am so lucky to be a Black female who is in a same sex relationship. It is not the easiest thing. All three categories are constantly being attacked. I’m always on edge because you never know who the hell hates you just for existing.

It should be a given right to be whoever you want to be, but every day I’m reminded it's a "privilege." It is bringing everyone together, that’s the one thing I’m noticing. I just hope people will continue to protect the LGBTQ, and not just for a few weeks.

Do you think this was a terrorist attack or a hate crime?

Whatever you label it, this was a senseless act of violence. When you label it a hate crime, generally it only affects the people of that specific category. But when you say, "terrorist attack," it affects Americans as a whole. It's doing both, it’s affecting everyone.

What do you think of the implication that this was a terrorist attack by an ISIS sympathizer?

If ISIS is involved, it wasn't just a "random crazy" shooter, it was well planned. It means it can happen again and at a larger scale. ISIS plays no games, whatever point they are trying to make they will do it to the extreme.

How do you feel about this attack being carried out during LGBTQ Pride Month?

Pride Month is such a big deal. Everyone comes out to celebrate, not just gays. People travel from all over for the parties and events.

This is a month to be proud of whatever sexual orientation you identify with. So many great things have happened over that last few years for our community. This shooter wanted to ruin an important time, but honestly it’s just bringing everyone closer, and Pride will just keep getting bigger and stronger.

I hate that it happened but we will recover. We always do. It’s not gonna stop me from being out with my girlfriend, it’s not gonna stop Pride, it will still go on.

Why do you feel your community was targeted?

Maybe because this is such a liberating time to identify with this community. We have come so far, especially legalizing gay marriage.

Pride Month is just expanding, more people are coming out and being proud. Every day, I am meeting more people who are so lucky and proud to be a part of the LGBTQ group.

Some people are just livid that all these great things are happening. This was trying to take us a step back. Make us afraid again. They were wrong.

What steps would you like to see taken in the wake of this tragedy?

It's annoying to see everyone tweet or give their opinion without physically helping. Before, if you wanted your voice heard, you had to get out of your house and actually make a difference. This generation has so much access but less motivation.

Donating to the families might possibly help, donating money to push for these gun control laws, signing more petitions, working on acceptance. Things take money and action, not just typing on a keyboard.

What kind of policies or practices do you think would better protect LGBTQ people?

Honestly I'm trying to figure out policies or practices that can better protect people. I mean the amount of Black people who were killed by cops in the last few years is astonishing. If we can't protect everyday citizens from cops, how can we protect the LGBTQ community?

There is a lot of hate speech that goes on social media. I think they need to work on banning all of that. I can go on any page, any message board and see the word “f****t” or “n****r.” People think they can say whatever online and then eventually believe they can do whatever offline.

If we can work on that, creating better spaces to promote positive discussions on race, gender, and sexuality, that will help others just accepting difference as a whole.

Is there anything we haven’t discussed that you’d like to share, or that you would like people to understand?

Twenty years ago it was extremely difficult to be a person of color, a female, and gay. I'm standing here today proud to be all three. There will be setbacks, there will always be someone or something that will hate me for no reason.

I'm extremely proud of my community and nothing will stop me from being out and about with my loved ones. This shooting will bring us to a better place, hopefully cherishing our moments just a little bit more.

Gloria Butler | @globjr | 31 y/o, Black American; Gay; Coordinator for oncology office; Brooklyn, New York

What faith do you practice, if any?

Christian.

What role does religion play in your identity?

A major role, I attend church often. I wouldn't be who I am today without it.

What are your thoughts on the Orlando shooting?

Makes me extremely confused, I'm upset but definitely trying hard not to be angry. It’s Pride season, it could have been anyone , me or someone I know very well.

My heart hurts knowing that people went out to celebrate who they are and what they stand for, not harming a soul. Spreading love and feeling free, all of a sudden that has to end because of some angry hateful idiot.

We fought so hard for this. If I don't like something, I turn away. If there are signs that someone will harm possibly an innocent person one day, why can't we stop them? I'm confused and very hurt.

Do you think this was a terrorist attack or a hate crime?

Very much hate... Gay club during Orlando pride? That's not a terrorist. Stop blaming Muslims, that's their way of attacking Muslims. This guy has a motive and he felt a certain way about gay people to go only to a gay club.

What do you think of the implication that this was a terrorist attack by an ISIS sympathizer?

Because of the type of guns he used and that he has been in trouble with the FBI before. But this is not the case. This man has shown signs of being hateful based off of people's race or religion or even sexual preference.

How do you feel about this attack being carried out during LGBTQ Pride Month?

It's scary, because I participate in a lot of activities. I'm even producing a Pride comedy show at Ange Noir (247 Varet St, Brooklyn) on June 26, 7:30 p.m. But nothing but love will take place there.

Why do you feel your community was targeted?

Our community is always targeted. People hate that we can marry, have kids or even donate blood. We just wanna live like everyone else. So much has happened for the best since President Obama was elected, there are people who want to retaliate.

What steps would you like to see taken in the wake of this tragedy?

Push gun reform. Please. But not even shooting up an elementary school was enough. But since this is the worst since 9/11, I pray they do.

What kind of policies or practices do you think would better protect LGBTQ people?

I think that they should push better laws against harassment and discrimination toward gays and transgender. And if someone physically identifies as a woman or man, let them use those restrooms. I can go on all day really, nothing is perfect but can we come close.

Is there anything we haven’t discussed that you’d like to share, or that you would like people to understand?

Yes. Love is love.

Sampson McCormick | @OfficialSampson| 30 y/o, "65 in gay years"; Black (African-American); Gay (same-gender loving); Stand-up comedian and social justice advocate; Oakland, California

What faith do you practice if any?

I'm of a Christ consciousness… probably because I learned it so early, those are the religious values that I embrace, as far as thought, "Love your neighbor as yourself." But I don’t consider myself a Christian. I consider myself spiritual, because God is not a religious entity, God is a spiritual entity.

So many people close themselves off from true divine experiences and understandings when they place God in a box. The homophobic, verbal beat downs in the church didn’t help [in] my choosing a religion either… so, spiritual.

What role does religion play in your identity?

I'd say a strong part, because I consider it a divine thing — as all of our identities are — they are a part of God because that’s where we all come from if we truly believe we are made in its image.

What are your thoughts on the Orlando shooting?

It's terrifying, to think that 53 people got dressed up, went out to have a good time, and were murdered. It’s scary.

It's even more agitating because it took the news so long to give the full story (that it was in an LGBT establishment) and that the man who was shooting was yelling, "Die f*****s, die."

On top of that, not many churches have issued condolences or statements. Artists who benefit from LGBT money (playing LGBT festivals, for example) are quiet on social media and many of my straight acquaintances are mum — it’s really sad. How much do we truly value humanity?

Do you think this was a terrorist attack or a hate crime?

It's hard to say because the news is being so mum on ALL the details. I think that it could be both, he was heard saying, "Die f*****s, die."

This country has a long history of slapping terrorist labels (of all kinds) on people of color. So who knows… I do DEFINITELY think it was a hate crime. As far as labeling it a terrorist attack, it's a really interesting time for something like this to happen.

What do you think of the implication that this was a terrorist attack by an ISIS sympathizer?

I don't believe that bulls**t.

How do you feel about this attack being carried out during LGBTQ Pride Month?

It’s scary, because so many people go out to celebrate themselves, we go out to celebrate community and progress, then this happens. Makes you wonder how far we really have come. Then, to see Donald Trump as the presumptive Republican nominee (and we know his rhetoric) lets you know that things haven't changed at all really.

But I fear for my friends, I fear for families and the anxiety of folks who have to live with losing friends.

Why do you feel your community was targeted?

Those kids who have parents who are religious and say, "God is gonna show you," and this happens… that has to f**ck with their minds. I feel the community was targeted for the same reasons other minority groups are targeted, out of hatred and disdain for people because of who they are.

I feel like things like the HB2 bill in North Carolina could edge things in this direction. We have to be really careful about the things that we allow, as a nation.

What steps would you like to see taken in the wake of this tragedy?

I'd like to see churches change their anti-gay rhetoric. I'd like for us to have more visibility in media, so that we can combat the stereotypes and have more of a voice.

I'd like a more serious conversation about changing gun control laws, making guns less accessible to folks who are not in the military — we don’t need them. The cops don’t need them, nobody needs them.

I wish we could find a way to make them all vanish. I would like to see gay organizations create REAL political agendas, our lives are much bigger than "marriage equality.” A lot of gays can’t even find a man right now… So until you do, you need to be safe, you need access to excellent health care, you need affirming church services and access to a better life as a minority.

This is once again a call for us to wake up as HUMAN BEINGS and stop bulls****ing on this love and justice thing and start getting it right. We are all that we have.

What kind of policies or practices do you think would better protect LGBTQ people?

The same that need to be put in place to protect people of color. You have things like the Matthew Shephard Act, but there need to be laws in place that acknowledge the hate crimes committed against us — people have to pay.

Unless they want all minorities, gays, etc., to start carrying guns. If we started doing that then I PROMISE there would be a reform on current gun control policies and violent acts.

Is there anything we haven’t discussed that you’d like to share, or that you would like people to understand?

Simply that we have to start doing better as people. Stop condoning hatred — start getting up and walking out of churches that preach hatred. Go in the tithes basket and take your $3 back out, and get out of there.

Stop letting so many derogatory terms slide. F****t isn't cool to use, it’s not cool to wear a badge and bully people of color. And most of all, we need to VOTE, stay in the streets protesting and being heard.

It’s crazy, we can show up and wait for six hours in line for shoes or Beyoncé tickets, but we can't go do it to save our asses. We need to do better. It sounds preachy, but it’s just what it is.

Frenchie Davis | @frenchiedavis | 37 y/o; Black mixed with Black (ancestrally, I descend from a people of the kingdom of Dahomey (now Benin), who were captured on the coast of Ouidah and came to this country on a slave ship called The Clotilda); Bisexual; Singer; Los Angeles/Washington, D.C.

What faith do you practice, if any?

I was raised Christian but find myself more drawn to a hybrid of Christian and Afro-indigenous faith practices like Yoruba and Vodun.

What role does religion play in your identity?

While I consider myself a spiritual person, I do not particularly subscribe to one organized religion. I think it has historically been dangerous and oppressive of women and people of color.

I find it interesting that we always end up having conversations about Islam when these things happen; but, if the shooter had been white and Christian would we be having the same conversation about Christianity?

Starting with the founding of organizations like the Ku Klux Klan, the Bible has historically been used to justify more hateful practices in this country than the Quran.

What are your thoughts on the Orlando shooting?

The shooting in Orlando made me angry and sad, and a little bit scared. I sang at Pulse nightclub several months ago, and often perform at clubs very similar to it. I am an outspoken advocate for LGBT rights and very honest about who and what I am, so what happened in Orlando frightens me a great deal.

Do you think this was a terrorist attack or a hate crime?

I think it was both a hate crime and a terrorist attack

What do you think of the implication that this was a terrorist attack by an ISIS sympathizer?

I think this attack is a culmination of a culture we have in this country of using religion to justify bigotry. If you want to use the Bible or the Quran to justify your moral conflict with homosexuality, fine. Everyone has a right to their beliefs and their opinion.

You don't have to "agree with" or even like who and what we are but this notion that the Bible or any religious writing gives permission to spread hate and bigotry is dangerous. Furthermore, the book of Isaiah says that ALL sin separates us from God... so folks running around here payin’ tithes to preachers who don't invest any of the monies back into the communities they serve; forgiving the pastor for having side pieces; folks getting divorced; priests raping young boys — ALL OF THAT folks can forgive, but gayness is where you draw the line?!

Nah. That hypocritical bulls**t, I'm not here for it.

Is there anything we haven’t discussed that you’d like to share, or that you would like people to understand?

I would like to see us come out of this more compassionate and more aware and respectful of the humanity we all commonly share.

What has hurt me the deepest in the aftermath of this tragedy is the lack of empathy and compassion. I'm seeing Black folks on my timeline comparing bBlack tragedies in American history as a means of trying to diminish this one and it infuriates me! I don't know who voted and decided that we should be compassionless for the sake of being "woke," but I don't subscribe to that school of thought.

I am tired of “gaycists” who are racially unaware and insensitive and I am equally tired of the homophobia that continues to perpetuate the Black community.

Black lives matter. And queer lives matter too. And as a member of both communities I would like to see us get to a place that doesn't require me to constantly have to defend one against the other.

Written by Russ Green

(Photo: Jure Makovec/AFP/Getty Images)

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