Friday, June 24, 2016

The Ties That Bind Us

What started out as a night of socializing at a well-known club, a supposed safe zone for gays, ended in tragedy perpetrated by gun violence, but more than that, it was a hate crime against the LGBT community, leaving many lives lost, and survivors forever changed.

Between sadness, fear, and anger this past week, I have been trying to transfer my thoughts into words of support for the families of this horrendous shooting that took place during the early morning hours in Orlando, Florida, on June 12th.

As a parent of a gay child, this hate crime felt like a dagger through my heart. Don’t get me wrong. There have been many fatal crimes against humanity that sent me to my knees, and while this one hit home on a personal note, it doesn’t make it any more or less severe. They all have in common a massacre of innocent lives. The difference for me is that the discrimination against the LGBT community had now escalated into a murderous rampage.

As citizens of the free world, this is not only a time to mourn for the victims and their families, but  a time of solidarity. It’s a time to stand alongside the LGBT community, to acknowledge the real discrimination they still face each day. It’s also a time to rethink the real terrorist threat posed by radicalization, a time for more accountability with regards to gun control. And it’s a time to re-evaluate our stance with regards to supporting old government laws, or, for that matter, the enactment of new ones, which can impede the path of equal rights for all citizens, including the LGBT community.

Since the shootings, I can’t help but wonder if some of the victim’s family members are finding out for the first time their loved one was part of the LGBT community. Or some knew but hadn’t come to terms with his/her sexual orientation, yet.

As someone who has walked this difficult road, I know coming out for our children, unfortunately, (even though it’s better today than it was ten years ago when my daughter came out) still carries a stigma, and it takes time to process. My heart breaks for the people who have now been robbed of this time.

Regretfully, though, we cannot change the events of this terrible night. However, the victim’s lives needn’t be lost in vain. Perhaps in time, if it hasn’t already, it will help estranged family members re-open the dialogue with their LGBT relatives. And perhaps the broader community will continue to step up and become advocates for positive change in the lives of the LGBT community and their families.

Perchance one day, when the grief isn’t so raw, we can look back in remembrance and see how this tragedy is the ties that bind us as one unified community.

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