It’s at moments like these where I often find myself at a loss for words. Which is a funny conundrum for any writer to face. Words are our art form, our life, the way we work through the darkest points of our lives.
Like all of you, I awoke yesterday and was greeted by the nightmare images of what happened in Orlando. President Obama said it perfectly, it was an act of terror, but it was, also, a hate crime. A hate crime that was directed at my son, my friends, my loved ones. In short, some of the most important people of my life.
When my son came out, the LGBT community welcomed us with opened arms. They helped us learn how to navigate this new world that we were faced with. For as sad as it may seem, at that moment in the eyes of many, my son had become a “lesser than.”
It was a bitter pill to swallow and it still hurts to this day. Even though we have made great strides in equality in recent years, the hate is still more prevalent than ever. The words that I hear spilling from certain politician’s mouths, city officials who refuse to issue wedding licenses, and just from ordinary people continue to confuse and anger me. I thought that we would have progressed more as a society. Learned more from the mistakes that have been made is history. Yet, this issue of prejudice and hatred continues to flourish.
So, I have some things that I will be doing. I will continue to fight harder than ever against hate. I will speak out against those who are building a breeding ground for more hatred to grow. Most of all, I will not be stopped.
This is what I won’t do. I will never speak aloud or write down that shooter’s name. He does not deserve that honor. Instead, I will embrace the names of the victims and their families. I will burn each name into my memory and never forget about them.
One more thing I will refuse to do is to blame one religion for this. ISIS is not Islam any more than the Westboro Baptist Church is Christianity. Islam is a religion of love, respect and kindness toward their fellow men. We must not let this change us and make us stigmatized an already unfairly ostracized group of individuals.
What I call for all of us to do is to make sure that we always say “I love you” to the most important people in our lives. Not be afraid to step out of the shadows and speak for what is right. For if we do, then they will win. That we can’t ever allow.