According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, hate is defined as “a very strong feeling of dislike,” and unfortunately, this intense dislike permeates much of the world today. Hate is often directed at those people and groups that we don’t understand or that feel pose a threat to us. There is a particularly large amount of hate directed at the LGBTQ community. This hatred is often rooted in homophobia, which manifests itself in behavior such as discrimination and violence. And historically, there is a lot of violence inflicted on the gay and transgender communities. According to the 2010 Hate Crimes Statistics provided by the FBI National Press Office, 19% of hate crimes in the U.S. were motivated by sexual orientation. In 2014, nearly one fifth of the almost 5,500 “single-bias” hate crimes were because of the target’s sexual orientation (or perceived orientation). LGBTQ people are also twice as likely to be targeted than African Americans, and they are also victimized more than Jews. The transgender community is at an especially high risk. According to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, the majority of LGBT people who were killed between 2012 and 2015 were black or Hispanic transgender people. And of course, one of the most shocking hate crimes directed at the LGBTQ community took place in June 2016, when 49 people were killed at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. The incident was the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. Why are there still so many attacks today? Ironically, it may be the increase in tolerance for LGBTQ people that is resulting in more violence. According to Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center, the more tolerant society becomes, the more radical those opposed to the changes can become. The cultural shift is alarming to them, and they may strike out in certain ways, including through violence. While there is still much work to be done, the tide is shifting both culturally and politically. Stay safe out there, everyone.
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