This morning, I awoke to hear of the death of 50 and hospitalization of 53 people in Orlando Florida. The mass shooting happened at a gay night club at closing, during gay pride month. Whether or not the people that have been killed and injured are gay, or allies, it does not matter. Their deaths and injuries are senseless, and a tragedy.
The news reports are now debating whether this was terrorism or a hate crime. There are reports that the suspected shooter's father saying that this was a hate crime as his son had issues with gay people. Whether it is one or the other, or a combination is irrelevant. This was terrorism. This was a hate crime. This should never happen. How many of these mass shootings have to happen before we open our eyes and do something about it? How many people of all races, religions, and sexual orientations need to die before it stops?
As a priest, I call on all those of all faiths and all those that read this to send their prayers and thoughts to all those involved in this shooting. The victims and families, the law enforcement that have to work this, and even the family of the shooter as they will surely be victimized. If you are local, there has been a call for blood donations. Yes, this is a sick irony that gay men cannot give blood, but they are calling for everyone that can to donate. There will surely be victim funds set up, and I encourage all to give what they can. I also call on you to give support to your local community, and let this be the turning point, much like Stonewall was 47 years ago. Let this be the end of the violence and the start of the acceptance.
I also call on all to not let this stop you from living as who you are. As we have learned over and over again, once people know LGBT people are already in their lives and that we are not evil people but people that are just trying to live our lives just like everyone else, their biases against the LGBT community starts to break down. As it is pride month, which is often a time for us to show the world how different we can be, I call on us to also show the world that we are not that different too. I call on all of us that are still hiding who we are from the world to start to come out and let people know who you really are.