I never met the good people who were shot in the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, but I feel I know them somehow. Their injuries and passing hit me like the death of old trusted friends whose loss to me is palpable.
Most of those taken from us were young people whose lives were still ahead of them to fulfill their dreams and ambitions, to live and to love, to laugh, and to be themselves in a world of expanding opportunities.
But what happened to these good souls is, unfortunately, nothing new. We see hate motivated violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer people and other targeted social groups on the rise.
Pick up any of our publications and each week you will see stories of brutal and senseless attacks. Groups of young males wielding baseball bats and guns at anyone who looks “different,” and men waiting outside women’s spaces attacking women on their way home. Members of the trans community often suffer the consequences of other truth tellers of the past. Nearly every two days, a person is killed somewhere in the world for expressing gender nonconformity. The vast majority of murders are trans women of color.
And these are simply the most extreme examples of hate related violence in general and so-called “queer bashing” specifically. So I must restate a simple truth — the killer or killers in Orlando live in a society that promotes intolerance, for queer bashing comes in a great many forms:
Whenever people like the Texas Lt. Governor send tweets soon after the mass shooting in Orlando quoting Galatians 6:7 “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows,” that’s queer bashing.
Whenever county clerks refuse marriage licenses to same-sex couples, that’s queer bashing.
Whenever states like North Carolina draft and pass legislation criminalizing trans people from entering restrooms matching their gender identities, that’s queer bashing.
Whenever shop owners refuse service and landlords refuse renting to queer people citing “religious freedom” as their justification, that’s queer bashing.
Whenever mainstream religious denominations condemn homosexuality with one breath and actively obstruct frank and honest sexuality education programs in our schools with another, that’s queer bashing.