LOS ANGELES, CA – By now, the tragic hate crime that transpired in the wee hours of the morning at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida recently has shocked the national consciousness. The usual and all-too-familiar epilogue for these shootings has already begun to unfold: the non-stop media coverage, the late night talk show circuit offering words of hope, vigils across the United States, a nationwide conversation about gun control, pontifications on whether this was an act of terror or a hate crime or both, politicians weighing in, thoughts and prayers.
Lots of thoughts and prayers.
As an organization, we have aimed to not weigh in too heavily on the tragedy. We are, after all, focused on the business of getting Hillary Rodham Clinton elected as President of the United States, and we have been conscious of and careful not to at all politicize or appear to politicize this tragedy.
But the truth is, this one hits close to home.
We are going to spare you the numbers. You’ve read them. The historical context. You know it.
Instead, we want to take a moment to honor Orlando. It is no secret that a lot of our B4H members are LGBT Americans. In fact, it is no secret that a lot of our leadership team is LGBT. Of course, we have members from all over the country from all walks of life. But we would be remiss if we did not acknowledge the huge influence that the LGBT community has had on us as a group, and as individuals. And consequently, we would be remiss if we did not take a moment to honor our brothers and sisters in Orlando who were taken from us in this senseless act.
Our hearts are broken. Gay Americans, one as young as twenty years old, and their friends and allies, celebrating Pride month, celebrating the movement that afforded them the freedom to be who they are, express themselves accordingly, and love openly. Or so they thought.
Earlier this week, Secretary Clinton delivered a thoughtful and poignant response to the tragedy. But perhaps the most thought-provoking moment was this revelation: “The Orlando terrorist may be dead, but the virus that poisoned his mind remains very much alive,” she said. “And we must attack it with clear eyes, steady hands, unwavering determination and pride in our country and our values.”
It is clear, at least to some, that the virus to which Secretary Clinton is referring is the virus of hatred. A foe that LGBT Americans have known for far too long, whether it be scrapping to survive on the playground, or at Stonewall, or in the fight for marriage equality, or in the Pulse Nightclub. We know what it is like to face hatred. And with the clear eyes and steady hands that Mrs. Clinton describes, we defy this hatred and attack it the way we always have. By refusing to be silent. By refusing to be erased. By standing together with a message of love. Loudly. Boldly.
We stand with you Orlando. We mourn those who we lost on Sunday and honor your lives and your passing. We regret that we live in a world that could not keep you safe, but we love you, and we hold you in our hearts as we march on for a more just and tolerant world. To the families and friends of those we lost, we offer our sincerest condolences. And our love.
With clear eyes. Steady hands. Unwavering determination.