To the entire LGBTQI community,
I am sorry.
I am sorry that the worst mass-shooting in recent American history was targeted at you.
I am sorry that 49 of you are no longer here to enjoy life on this earth, and I am sorry that so many more of you were injured and will remember this nightmare for the rest of your lives.
I am sorry that you weren’t allowed to help those that were injured, because you still aren’t allowed to donate blood. Politics still haven’t caught up with medicine, and you continue to be discriminated against.
I am sorry that members of the Westboro Baptist Church held a protest at the funerals of some of the victims. I can’t even begin to imagine what that would have felt like for the families who are mourning their children, their brothers, their sisters, their cousins, their aunts or uncles, their friends.
I am sorry that people around the world continue to label this a terrorist attack, rather than what it really is; a hate crime against the LGBTQI community. Omar Mateen may have pledged allegiance to ISIS, but his father acknowledged that he was agitated and angered by the sight of gay men. He chose to enter a known gay-bar, and he chose to open fire. There is no question that this was a targeted hate crime, and that it was rooted in the fact that society has been dehumanising you and treating you as inferior for so long. Throughout history you have been shunned, targeted, and treated as though you are not members of what we call ‘humanity’.
I am sorry for the way society treats you, as though you are something that is wrong which needs to be fixed. I wish that everyone would just understand that you are born the way you are, and that there is nothing wrong with the way you are. You are beautiful, you are perfect, you deserve to be loved and appreciated; and your sexuality does not change that. LGBTQI youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide than other young people their age, and they feel this way because of the homophobic attitudes that society continues to encourage.
I am sorry if you are afraid to come out because you are scared of what your friends and family will think, or what they might do. Please, be brave, and always know that there are people who will love and support you exactly as you are.
I am sorry that churches continue to protest and aim hate speeches at you, and that even ‘progressive’ churches continue to spout out the message ‘hate the sin, not the sinner’ as though that is helpful. Please, know and always remember that there is nothing wrong with you.
I am sorry that many of you still can’t get married, because it is illegal where you live. I hope that one day soon these laws will be changed and you will be granted your basic human rights. Please, know that your love for one another is as legitimate as any heterosexual relationship.
I am sorry for all the crimes committed against you.
Violence grows out of hate, and hate begins with fear, and people fear what they do not know or understand.
I am sorry that so many people do not know and do not understand, and that there are so many people out there who will not even try.
I am glad that people have prayed for you, that there have been candlelit vigils and cities lighting up with your colours. But I know that our prayers and kind thoughts are not enough; society needs to change its way of thinking and action needs to be taken.
If people fear what they do not know or understand, then it is time that we become more educated.
If you don’t know what the L stands for, or the G or the B or the TQI, then I challenge you to learn the definitions.
If you say things like, ‘that’s so gay’ when you mean ‘that’s so crap,’ I challenge you to stop. Think about what you are saying. When you laugh and call your mate a ‘faggot’ or a ‘homo’ – you are hurting people.
As a society we need to change our laws. In 28 American states, you can be fired from your job because of your sexuality. Here in Australia, gay people still cannot get married. These kinds of laws contribute to the idea that LGBTQI people are less than human, because they are not afforded the same basic human rights that everyone else gets.
We need to change this culture of hate, and create a new culture of mutual respect and understanding. We need to stop the ridicule and dismissal of LGBTQI people – we can no longer treat this as socially acceptable. All human lives matter, and we are all worth the same.
It is time to stop the spread of hate, and so we all need to be talking about this. By sparking a worldwide conversation we can start to make the cultural changes that we need to make this world a safer place for everyone, regardless of their sexuality. It is time to abandon our hatred for each other, and to start teaching respect, kindness, and empathy; it is time to embrace our diversity.
No matter your culture, your ethnicity, your religion or your personal beliefs, we all know that love and respect are the most important things that we as humans can offer each other.
I hope that one day soon we will live in a world that doesn’t condemn people because of their sexuality. I hope that one day soon we will live in a world where people don’t open fire on each other because they don’t agree on something.
I hope that one day soon we will stop having to say kind words and prayers in the face of tragedy; and that one day soon we will have done something to actually fix this.
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