More love Nothing feels appropriate at a time like this. It’s not possible to neatly and quickly process the senseless murder of 49 unsuspecting humans in one brutal massacre at the hands of a what seems to have been a dangerously confused man, and then say or do the right thing immediately. The one exception would be to offer support and comfort for the survivors and the families of those killed. That help is immediately appropriate and it’s something they will continue needing for the rest of their lives. So, do donate money to that cause and do send messages of love and support to those affected by the tragedy, including those in the greater LGBTQ community.
All other talking points, however, seem crass and insensitive as I get lost in the Internet, crushed, angry, trying to navigate the circumstances surrounding Omar Mateen’s decision to invade the Pulse nightclub in Orlando last Sunday (June 12) and open fire with his semiautomatic assault rifle. I crave a common ground where tragedy brings us together to make meaningful change, but so much of the news and online chatter highlights a series of divisions in America, with the elements of the heinous act—guns, terrorism, hate, fear, religion, war—driving us further apart. The ports in the storm have been in the words and actions of the LGBTQ community and its allies putting examples of unity and messages of hope into the world.
At the Tony Awards, which took place the same day as the shooting, Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda read a sonnet he wrote that included a few lines acknowledging the massacre. An excerpt:
We lived through times when hate and fear seemed stronger;/We rise and fall and light from dying embers, remembrances that hope and love last longer/And love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love cannot be killed or swept aside.
This is beautifully put, especially coming from the writer/composer of a musical that so successfully transformed the pain of our country’s past into an empowering song of hope for an increasingly diverse America. But love and hope are for the survivors only. And as survivors, we have the opportunity to do better, to stop and recognize our common humanity, and to agree to address the root problems creating so many hopeless and lost souls.
Besides the expansion of background checks when purchasing firearms (depending on which poll you reference, between 85 percent and 92 percent of Americans agree they should at least include gun-show and private-owner sales), the only practically actionable item I can envision at this time is love.
Say out loud, and in public that you love all fellow humans, and place no restrictions on anyone’s liberty or right to live whatever lives they were born to or choose to live. I love and support gay people. I love and support followers of Islam. I love and support anyone who does not tear down the humanity of their fellow humans.
And, in my opinion, religions have a lot of power to affect exactly this type of change. If your interpretation of the Bible, Torah or Quran is that homosexuality is wrong and should be punished, you are not preaching acceptance and love. Even if you don’t attack gay people, or bomb abortion clinics or fly planes into American skyscrapers, the fact remains that religion is used to justify those acts. As a member of these faiths, you can be incredibly influential in speaking out against the hate as well as speaking directly to people’s hearts with love.