Dear MoveOn member,
On Sunday morning, my hometown of Orlando fell victim to a heinous act of hatred and violence. A man filled with hate and armed with an assault weapon walked into a popular LGBT club, Pulse, and killed at least 49 innocent people, wounding as many more.1
I watched as the nation awoke and began to process the news asking "Why?" I watched as my colleagues at MoveOn sprung into action and asked, "How do we help?" But I was faced with a very different question: "Are my friends alive?"
I will never be able to explain what it feels like to hear from someone you love who you feared dead. I will also never be able to explain what it feels like when you don't.
Losing my friends and watching as a community that I love struggles with such terrible loss has been one of the hardest experiences of my life. Seeing the faces of young queer people—predominantly people of color enjoying the club's "Latin Night"—who went out to dance, sing, and celebrate in a space meant to be free of the homophobia and violence that many often faced outside of those doors, is nearly impossible to do without crying. But it also serves as a reminder of the real human toll that violence can have on our country.
There's so much work we need to do. We need to stand up against homophobia. We need to avoid falling into the trap of responding with Islamophobia. We need to make sure love wins over hate. And by all means, we need to keep mass-killing weapons out of the hands of violent individuals.
I will be ok. The LGBT community will be ok. Orlando will be ok. America will be ok. But only if we fight back.
The attacks that shook the nation in Sandy Hook, San Bernardino, Aurora, and Orlando all have something in common. The assailants used an assault weapon.2
And unless we do something soon they will have something else in common: Congress will have done nothing to seek justice and prevent these terrible acts from happening again.
Right now, mass-killing weapons are available for purchase online, at trade shows, and at neighborhood gun brokers across our nation. The media has begun calling assault weapons the "weapon of choice" for mass shooters.3 This has to stop.
As I process this terrible moment in history and in my life I'm reminded of this quote by Walter Anderson:
Bad things do happen; how I respond to them defines my character and the quality of my life. I can choose to sit in perpetual sadness, immobilized by the gravity of my loss, or I can choose to rise from the pain and treasure the most precious gift I have—life itself.
We don't have to sit immobilized in the face of hate. I choose to rise from the pain and take action. I hope that you will too.
1. "New Details Emerge About Deadliest Mass Shooting In U.S. History," The Huffington Post, June 12, 2016
2. "Assault weapon is common denominator in mass shootings," CBS News, December 4, 2015
3. "Assault rifles are becoming mass shooters’ weapon of choice," The Washington Post, June 12, 2016
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