It’s been a year since gay marriage was legalized throughout our entire country. And although the LGBT community faces attacks–verbal and physical, demoralizing and painful–on the daily, our country has made outstanding progress–think back twenty years, when our main policy was “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Yet the great strides that have been made, have sadly been taken for granted. The freedom love and happiness now have, has been accepted quickly, as it should, but with the drawback of many people not paying attention to the multitude of injustices and hate that still absorbs our communities.
Sexual orientation still ranks as the third largest motivator for hate-crimes and violence. Coupled with that, even though trends may point in the opposite direction, the amount of hate-crimes targeted at the LGBT community has only increased in recent years. In 2014, Musab Masmari set fire to a Seattle gay bar on New Year’s Eve. Instances of gay women and men being attacked show up in the back pages of newspapers often–becoming even commonplace. This year, the FBI reported an estimate of 6,000 cases of hate crimes against the LGBT community, but those are the cases that were reported by victims and then officially classified. The Bureau of Justice speculates that the real figure might be anywhere as large as 40 times the one reported. We, as a country might very well be suffering from a false reality. We’ve fallen into a trap where we think that by guarding ourselves behind a law, our problems are fixed–de jure yes, de facto no.
And now, we’ve had the deadliest mass shooting–at a place where the LGBT community celebrates its pride–somewhere that is supposedly a safe haven for their identities. Their freedom, love, and liberty was remorselessly attacked, and only that brought enough attention for the whole country to congregate.
It is without doubt a beautiful thing that so many communities came together so quickly to mourn the misery, but why did it take a such an event to promote collectiveness?
Why did it take another shooting, another mass murder to bring attention (and agreement) on issues so potent to our safety?
Why did it take yet another school shooting to bring attention to gun control?
Another innocent life lost to bring attention to racial inequality?
Why must something so massive, that touches so many Americans directly, occur for a unifying force to take hold?
It can be related back to the long-uttered platitude of good not existing without evil…yet, terrifying events occur on smaller scales every day–even every hour of the day—so why is that not enough to promote national attention?
Standing neat the Stonewall Inn today, joining in the vigil, I felt an energy among every-single person standing near me, whether a couple inches or blocks away. We were there for one sole cause: peace.
I am not related to anyone killed in the attack. I am not friends with anyone affected, and neither am I gay. Some may reprimand me for writing about this subject, because I have never experienced the hate on a first-hand basis. I have, however, experienced other types of hate–particular to my own-self. It is hard to find but one person who has never experienced any type of persecution or injustice. Others, unfortunately, suffer more and on larger scales.
It shouldn’t take another heinous event to promote unity on issues of reoccurrence in our country. We put democracy, freedom, and happiness at the forefront of our values, so can we finally learn to come together instead of wait for another travesty to open our eyes and make us hold hands?