We invite you to join NCLR today as we honor the 49 lives lost – and the countless others forever changed – at the tragedy at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, FL on June 12, 2016. On the anniversary of that horrific night when so many of our community were murdered in a senseless act of gun violence, we not only remember those taken from us, we also join those who pledge to Honor Them With Action.
As a young queer Latino and Orlando native who frequently visited Pulse, the nightmare of that night seven years ago will surely never fade from my memory. In fact, as this anniversary approached, I felt my heart aching just as much this year as that night in June nearly a decade ago.
Over the past couple of years, that pain, that sense of fear for my LGBTQ community and others who join us in our safe places has only intensified as I witness the ongoing and relentless attacks against our LGBTQ community. This year alone we have seen more than 500 anti-LGBTQ bills introduced in states across the country – sadly including Florida – that seek to try to erase LGBTQ individuals from society. From banning medically necessary care for transgender youth to stripping bookshelves of media that show positive representations of our community and making it illegal to just say the words “gay” or “trans” in public schools, the wave of anti-LGBTQ animus from a (very vocal) minority of hate-filled individuals has only intensified.
When the shock of what took place at Pulse in 2016 finally waned, it seemed as if our country had reached a reckoning point that anti-LGBTQ violence – violence against any community – would no longer be tolerated. But in the past few years, we have collectively borne witness to more and more senseless acts of violence, both seemingly random and targeted at the most underrepresented communities.
Whether it’s a tragic shooting at Club Q, an LGBTQ safe space in Colorado Springs, or violent protests at libraries hosting innocuous drag story hours, armed extremists disrupting school board meetings, burning of LGBTQ Pride flags, or credible threats targeting the safety of LGBTQ groups during parades and celebrations, it is nearly impossible not to be provoked into that sense of fear we all faced when we first heard the news about Pulse so many years ago.
But in this time of increased and openly anti-LGBTQ bigotry, we must not back down in the face of fear and intimidation. Now is our time to be bold, brave, and full of Pride. Now is the time to remind these ruffians and hooligans that we cannot – and will not – be silenced. It is now that we raise our Pride flags higher than ever before and continue to be unapologetically visible. We must show those who strive to claw back the rights we have fought so hard to gain that enough is enough, and we won’t cower in the face of hate.
So this year, as we pause to honor the victims of Pulse and Club Q, we do not do so in a state of retreat. We do so by Honoring Them With Action and by denouncing hate and bigotry wherever it occurs. Whether it’s showing up to school board meetings to denounce fascist book bans, contacting our legislators to demand they retract bills targeting our transgender children, or supporting our litigation challenging anti-LGBGTQ laws, now is the time not for words, or thoughts, or prayers. Now is the time for action.
We ask you to make that commitment with us today – to combat intolerance in all of its forms. If we all continue to work together and honor them with the action that those lives deserve, we can and will win.
You can learn more about how to #HonorThemWithAction today and every day by visiting www.honorthemwithaction.org.