Around 2 a.m. last night, a lone gunman entered the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida with an assault rifle and a handgun and killed 50 people and injured 53 others. Fucking miserable. Here’s five things you should know about it
1. It’s being called the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.
It’s also being called the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil since September 11. According to CNN, “Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said he had declared a state of emergency for the city and has requested the governor do the same for the state.” Furthermore, the shooting will resurrect debates over firearm regulations.
2. It was directed at queer people of color.
Last night was Latin night at the Pulse nightclub, with “Kenya Michaels, a drag queen from Puerto Rico… scheduled to appear…Saturday evening along with another entertainer called Jasmine International”, according to USA Today. Whether the gunman planned it or not, his attack was one directly against queer people of color, and that’s important to remember moving forward.
It’s also important to remember that, even though a lot of news reports are calling Pulse “a gay nightclub”, lesbians, bisexuals, transgender, intersex and asexual people are undoubtably patrons of Pulse too and will also feel the reverberations as they ripple through the Orlando and other queer communities. LGBTQIA individuals were all harmed and each part of that alphabet deserves individual attention and care in the aftermath and years following last night’s tragedy. Be sure to ask people how they identify and to point out that last night’s victims weren’t just gay men.
3. The shooting will increase Islamophobia in the LGBTQIA community.
Because the U.S.-born shooter’s family is from Afghanistan, commenters are already blaming Muslims for last night’s shooting, awakening a fresh frenzy of Islamophobia within our community — DON’T BUY INTO IT! Anti-LGBTQIA sentiment isn’t a uniquely Muslim thing, it exists in many religions. Islamic extremists kill Muslims more than any other group and when we blame Muslims wholesale for anti-LGBTQIA violence, we perpetuate violence against ALL Muslims (including queer ones).
Focusing on Muslims also ignores two key facts: First, most anti-LGBTQIA violence in the U.S. actually comes from racists, misogynists and Christians. And second, the real root of this tragedy is not religion but queerphobia and anti-LGBT hate speech.
Furthermore, there are Muslim and Christian congregations that are speaking out AGAINST this violence. So instead of hating on Muslims and Islamic people, let’s focus on how we can stop hatred and violent attitudes against LGBTQIA people to begin with.
4. LGBTQIA people are ineligible to to donate blood which is maddening.
Readers of this site know that we abhor the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s anti-LGBTQIA blood ban refusing blood donations from any men who’ve had sex with men in the last year (including transwomen). Despite earlier reports that Orlando blood centers had lifted the ban to allow more people to give, those reports have proved false. So unless you’re celibate or cis female, queer people can’t give blood to save other queers. That is so incredibly fucked up.
5. There are at least 4 ways you can help the victims.
Time magazine has listed four ways you can help victims: donating blood (if you’re celibate or a cis female), donating money, attending a vigil or providing counseling. You can also help by checking in with Orlando friends and family to make sure they’re safe. If they are, please let people know. Police have not yet released names of all the victims and so some people will be in the dark until the inevitable heartbreak comes.
Our thoughts, love, tears, hope and support are with the friends and family of everyone involved in this shooting.