On Sunday morning, we awoke to news of the unfathomable. A single gunman entered an LGBT nightclub, PULSE Orlando, and opened fire. The numbers are everywhere, but we will repeat them: 50 people died; 53 more are wounded. It is important to repeat these numbers because behind each of them is a name, a face, a life, a family, a story.
At the Sea Change Program, we believe in stories. To know someone’s story is to grasp their humanity. We will never know enough of the victims’ stories: what gave them hope, what made them laugh, what inspired them. We do know that PULSE is an LGBT nightclub, that many of those inside were people of color, and that Saturday was “Latin Night”. Some media sources are ignoring these facts. Some media sources are resorting instead to Islamophobia. Don’t let them spin the story.
Sea Change believes in dignity, respect, life, and community. We believe that love conquers hate. We believe in the power of hundreds of blood donors to save lives over the power of one man to take them. We believe that Americans can hold politicians accountable to going beyond thoughts and prayers and enacting real policy change. We believe in the strength of marginalized communities and their ability to create true and lasting social change. And we believe in you.
We know that story sharing is a powerful tool that celebrates differences, crosses cultures, and unites communities. Now, more than ever, you can help ensure that the voices of those most affected are not only heard, but elevated. If you aren’t a part of one of the communities targeted in this brutal attack, please reach out to your family and friends who are. Listen to their stories and hold them in the intensity and complexity of what they have to say. If you’re not sure how to do this, remember these three words: stop, drop, listen. Stop talking, and listen with intention to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community; the Latinx community; the Muslim community; and communities of color. Drop judgement, and listen to the stories of those most affected rather than making assumptions. Listen to what these communities need and how you can support them. Working together, we can shift the power from those who are trying to instill fear and hate towards those building a world where love is love.
Today, and every day, we stand with the LGBTQ and Latinx communities, with communities of color, and with all people at their intersections. We stand with you in grief, in anger, and in love.
To learn about how you can support the victims in Orlando, please click here.
Image via Repeal Hyde Art Project.