Written by: Lataya Rothmiller
This past weekend was a heartbreaking one. Not only for the LGBTQ community, but for humanity itself. 50 lives were lost and 53 were injured in a place that the victims considered to be refuge. It is hard to comfort the topic, the attack has left the nation vulnerable and with raw emotion.
I am left to wonder: What are the right words to say to America at this time? Who can we trust to say them? What exactly do we need as a nation right now?
President Obama addressed the nation Sunday, stating:
“We know enough to say that this was an act of terror and an act of hate.”
He also added: “As Americans, we are united in grief, in outrage, and in resolve to defend our people.”
You can view his statement here.
In moments like these, we want nothing but to remember that we are all human. You don’t have to be inclusive to a specific community to understand the pain that is being felt. If anything, as a nation, we are equally united in this grief.
The public turned their attention to the potential nation’s leaders, in which some sent out their sincere condolences and others, not so much.
Hillary Clinton’s statement was similar to that of Obama’s, calling the shooting an act of terror and hate. She also used the tragedy as a time to mention the need of unity and gun control, an ongoing topic evermore since the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting.
Ted Cruz sent out his condolences via twitter, which backfired with the public after some felt the statement was hypocritical due to past actions.
You recently shared a stage with a pastor who said all gays should be put to death. https://t.co/1I73VEHDN1
— Christopher Rice (@chrisricewriter) June 12, 2016
Mike Huckabee used Facebook to speak on the shooting, which received more backlash than support.
Donald Trump received the most backfire from his Orlando tweet, which lacked empathy and included a rather distasteful boast.
Appreciate the congrats for being right on radical Islamic terrorism, I don't want congrats, I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 12, 2016
As the nation grieves, cities are being lit up with rainbows in memory of the lives lost. Endless photos and words of encouragement were shared across the internet and news platforms. In Orlando, an instant 2 mile-long line was formed with volunteers to donate blood upon the county, after emergency services announced they were especially in need of Types O and O negative. Social media users sent out tweets and posts sending love to those affected. Yet, there are still tears, anger, and questions. Many questions.
As a free nation it is hard to swallow the fact that there are still acts of hate against the LGBTQ community, minorities and innocent lives in general, including daily gun violence. During these times, we look to our leaders for unity, healing, and to promote a safer environment for ourselves and loved ones. It is not a time to campaign, at least not on the first or second day. But a time to be humane. Let us grieve and grieve with us!
The LGBTQ Center at Montclair State University sent out a campus wide statement in response to the Orlando shooting affirming their stand with LGBTQ leaders and allies across the country in expressing their deep sadness at this horrific event, and their thoughts are with the families and victims of this tragedy.
WMSC’s very own former Music Director, Ivan Arevalo, shared his reaction as well:
“This is a moment for the LGBTQ community to stand together. For such a long time there has always been internalized homophobia, and the divide of cultures, but this shooting has affected everyone. Just as a community we must stand together, we have to start including everyone in this group. We have to protect each other, and those who can’t. We have to stand up for Trans-rights, we have to stand up for Black and Latino rights, and we have to stand up against the wild Islamophobia that is happening towards the Muslim community. We need to resolve these problems and protect each other.”
On the topic of politicians’ initial reactions, Arevalo feels that politicians should first drop their campaigns for a moment to find compassion in their hearts and give condolences to those grieving. He praised President Obama’s response to the attack and how he tackled the issue of gun control and terrorism with tact.
On behalf of all of us at WMSC, we would like to extend our deep condolences for the lives lost and to those grieving them.
If given the chance, spread love everywhere you go. Martin Luther King once said “Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”