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We Are Orlando!

by Lewis Speaks-Tanner,
President, DignityUSA

The 49 deaths and 53 injured in the early hours of June 12, 2016 have mobilized the LGBTQ and allied community!   The Pulse Club shooting has shattered our psyche.  Witnesses, protests, and vigils have been of historic in number all over the globe from London, Paris, Belfast, Barcelona, Calgary, and Cologne as well as across the United States from large and small cities to Orlando.

This senseless shooting in Orlando hit a nerve.  A LGBTQ gathering space was violated.  It was a calculated attack on us, to make our community uneasy and make us fearful. 

Since marriage equality became the law of the land, there have been numerous attempts to shortchange our freedom to marry.  Politicians have tried and sometimes have succeeded in passing legislation that discriminates against our trans brothers and sisters, forcing them to use restrooms that do not conform to their identity.   We have all heard the garbage politicians and some people are saying to justify this cruel legislation.  We continue to fight back. 

We are standing together and fighting for our loves and lives.  As Lin-Manuel Miranda eloquently said in his Tony acceptance speech,

“ ... We live through times when hate and fear seem stronger
We rise and fall and light from dying embers
Remembrances that hope and love lasts long
And love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love…”

We continue to work to gain and maintain our equality:  freedom to love and marry, freedom to use a restroom, freedom in housing and employment, freedom to participate in all seven sacraments of our Church, freedom to live our lives freely and openly!

Islamophobia is not an answer any more than homophobia or misogyny.  We have heard so many times, “How can you be LGBTQ and Catholic?” It is because we have the freedom to be out.  Many of our Islamic brothers and sisters do not have that freedom.  Tragically, many would be murdered being their authentic selves. 

As LGBTQ people and Catholics, we embrace diversity; we embrace others who are marginalized just as Jesus did in his time.  By standing together we can and will make a difference.  We will work with others for a day when our LGBTQ brothers and sisters do not live in fear of being murdered on our streets and in public gathering spaces because of who they are.