Tuesday, 14 June 2016

The Pulse LGBT+ Massacre

This isn't really a news piece, I'm not here to report on what happened in Orlando on Sunday morning, we all know what happened at Pulse, and me reporting on it will not be adding much to the masses of news coverage already happening.  The thing is, I couldn't just let this event pass by and not acknowledge it, to ignore that it happened.

Instead, I guess this is just a ramble, an article where I'm just going to write and put down my thoughts on what happened, how I feel and what I think this means for the LGBT+ community.

The first and most simple thing to say at a time like this is that my thoughts and my heart go out to those who were so brutally taken away from the world, and for their friends, families and loved ones left behind.

Sometimes when events like this happens it's easy to think of things in the form of numbers, the number of dead, the number of wounded.  It's the easy way to try and distance yourself from the real horrors of what happens.  When it's numbers it's easy to talk about, to try and get your head around what has happened, even if that number is staggeringly high.

But events like these aren't just numbers.  It's not 50 killed and 50 wounded.  It's 50 people killed, 50 people wounded.  It's not just numbers, it's lives.  Not just lives lost, but the countless other lives destroyed by his horrible act that spin out of it.  The friends and families of those killed, of those wounded, of those who escaped unharmed, of those who frequent Pulse.  There are so many more people than those simple numbers who have been affected.

You can see that in the way that the whole world has reacted to this tragedy, to the hundreds of thousands that have sent messages of love and sympathy, to the vigils and gatherings of those speaking out against hate and violence, the moments of silence and the buildings around the world flying the rainbow flag or illuminated in the colours of our community.

Sadly, times like this not only highlight the support and love that people have for the LGBT+ community, for those lost and those lives left behind but forever changed, but they give opportunity to those who hate us to feel a moment of victory.

It's a sad fact that whenever great tragedy like this happens, whenever there is a great loss of life at the hands of other human beings there is invariably someone, somewhere who benefits from this.  In this case it is those people who hate the LGBT+ community, those who feel that our existence is in someway 'wrong' or 'unnatural' that are revelling in this horrific moment.

Whilst the media is quick to blame people of Islamic faith for the tragic event at Pulse it is people of many faiths, and no faiths, that are voicing their delight at the massacre that our community endured.  The hatred for the LGBT+ community is one that appears to be one that transcends religious boundaries, one that can strangely bring together extremist people of religions that despise each other together in a shared hatred of a group that has done nothing to them.

Since this tragedy I have seen outpourings of love and support, but also those of hate, from those people who find the events at Pulse something that should be enjoyed and encouraged rather than condemned.  Some of these messages, many in fact, do not come from Islamic extremists, but rather from people who would consider themselves Christians.

There are people who are calling for more LGBT+ lives to be taken, who are trying to spread hate and oppression in the wake of these events, but then this isn't something new.  This has been happening for too long a time in America.  The debates about transgender bathroom laws, the anti-LGBT+ laws being introduced in states, violent conversion therapies, vicious assaults and murders, all of these and more have been a part of American society for a long time now.

Sadly, I think it is this very culture that has been allowed to grow in a country that considers itself 'the greatest nation on earth' that created this tragedy more than any Islamic extremism.  A country that allows people to buy and own assault rifles, weapons of war, whilst sending messages that LGBT+ should be hated, that their rights and freedoms should be taken away, that they should be reduced to less than human.

The tragedy at Pulse is the result of the culture that America has made for itself, one where people with extreme religious views and hate are allowed to shape laws and legislation, where personal prejudice allows politicians to deny the lives of others, to be willing to sue their countries own leader rather an accept that people should be treated equally.

The events at Pulse were horrific, they should never have happened, but they were brought about by the culture of glorified violence and hatred for the LGBT+ community that America has made.  It is not by blaming Islam or by pointing fingers at terrorists that something like this can be prevented from happening again, but by looking closer to home.  America itself needs to change in order to make a better world where LGBT+ people don't need to be fearful of being massacred when they should be enjoying their lives.


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