By C.J. Asher
Today, like countless others across the world, I woke up to the news of the senseless and horrific murder of fifty innocent victims, and the wounding of over fifty others, at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida. While the news of mass shootings has, sadly, become almost commonplace within our nation these days, this particular act of heartless cowardice stands out as the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history. In addition, this attack occurred at a gay nightclub during Pride Month, where individuals and groups from around the country come together to commemorate the Stonewall Riots as well as to celebrate the unity and accomplishments of the LGBT community, including last year’s landmark ruling legalizing same sex marriage in the United States.
I express my deepest condolences to the victims of this tragedy, as well as their family and friends. As a fierce advocate of sexual equality and rights, I cannot truly express my outrage and anger towards this attack, which is BOTH an act of terror AND a hate crime, plain and simple. It is an attack on our values as a civilized society and on human decency.
As I sit here typing this, I’m watching the coverage on CNN, which continues to discuss not only the details of the incident itself, but also the suspect and his alleged support of radical Islam and ISIS. I’m left with the sobering realization that that this just is one of many attacks that have occurred since the fight for gender equality began, and that, sadly, this probably will be far from the last.
Likewise, as I’m typing this, expressions of sympathy and support are flowing across social media from across the world. Hundreds are lining up to donate blood in Orlando to help the injured. I listen to reports of police and first responders risking their lives to save those in harm’s way last night. Strong condemnations against ISIS and their message of hate are coming in from numerous world leaders, governments and religious organizations, including American Muslim groups. Once again, decent human beings coming together in times of crisis to do what is right and to help and support others in need.
I urge everyone who is reading this to remember that, no matter how angry, confused and scared you are feeling, this is a time to focus on the victims of this tragedy and those closest to them, many of whom will live with the pain of this day, every day, for the rest of their lives. While we will never fully understand what drove the thinking behind this tragedy, we must never lose sight of the fact that, as has been proven time and time again even in the darkest of times and most heartbreaking of circumstances, in the end #LoveWins.