How We Should (And Should Not) Respond To Orlando

How We Should (And Should Not) Respond To Orlando

What we can do in the wake of the tragedy
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This article was inspired by the tragedy in Orlando this past week. I don’t have the words to describe the horror of this event or the depth of the losses suffered. There just aren’t words. But my thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected and with our country as a whole, as we react and move on, hopefully to a brighter future where terrorism and hate crimes and violence are far less prevalent, and love much more so.

The question now is how do we move on? What should we do? I’ve seen a number of responses over the past few days that range from heart-warming to absolutely sickening. So, for those who are unsure, here are some ways to proceed appropriately. Keep in mind that it doesn’t matter if you’re Side A or Side B, if you’re LGBTAQ+ yourself, or if you’re something else entirely. Our response should not be based on political opinions or religious affiliations, but rather on our common humanity, and the love and respect that we all owe each and every one of our fellow human beings.

Things we should do:

1) Remember

Don’t forget what happened in Orlando once it leaves your newsfeed or television screen. Remember that while you can move on in life, not everyone will have such an easy time of that. Lives were lost, families broken, dreams destroyed. Remember the victims, pray for their friends and families. Take a moment of silence or more to honor their memory and show respect for the lives they led and lost because they were brave enough to be themselves.

2) Be Thankful

Take another moment to appreciate everyone in your life. Tell your family you love them. You never know when things will change, so make sure you’re not wasting the time and blessings you’ve been given.

3) Remain United

Usually after a terrorist attack or mass shooting, America responds with incredible unity. This time, should be no different. So let’s stop arguing over who and what to blame. There’s a time to talk about gun control, immigration, terrorism, etc. And sure, perhaps each of these things played a part in this tragedy. But that should not be our focus. Our focus should be on how we can come together as a nation to support the victims’ families and learn from our mistakes, together, not by pointing fingers at groups we disagree with.

4) LGBTQ+ Love

Love up on any LGBTQ+ people in your life. Give them a hug and tell them you love them, and that you are there for them, and actually, mean it. Again, your opinions don’t matter here. We need genuine love, free from judgment, advice, or criticism, no matter how well intentioned. Understand that this was not an attack on “all Americans.” It was a targeted attack on the LGBTQ+ community. We’re wounded, we feel unsafe and unsettled, and anything you can do to help with that is a good thing. Validate what we are experiencing, show us that you care and that you want to help. Just love us.

5) Make A Change

Change something in your life that will make it less likely that such a targeted attack will happen again. Make a serious effort to get to know some LGBTQ+ people. Google the arguments behind Side A or Side B. Take a look at your life and try to root out homophobia wherever it appears. Accept us into your churches without trying to change us. Stop using the phrase “hate the sin, love the sinner” (you can think this is possible as much as you want, but I promise you, that those words to an LGBTQ+ person are tantamount to saying “I’m better than you, worthy of judging you, and I condemn you to hell”). Just make a change, however small, that enables you to better support, understand, and interact with, the LGBTQ+ community so that we can all move forward together.

6) Stand With Us

I’m sure you’re all familiar with #StandWithOrlando by now, and that is an amazing show of support. But we need you to stand with us all the time, not just in the moments after a crisis. Comfort and offers of prayer feel shallow when just a week ago the same people were rejecting us from their churches and calling us sinners. So if you want to stand with us, please do. We welcome you gladly. But know that to truly stand with us means that you’ll be there all the time, without judgment or attacks. Know that you may just be joining this fight, and only now experiencing the fear many LGBTAQ+ people live with, but we’ve been living it for a long time. There’s been a body count before now. Our struggle has been long, and will continue to be. If you want to join us, it will be a long and difficult, likely painful, road, but we are all in. We are fully committed, and we’d love to have your support.



Things we should not do:

1) Blame All Muslims

This shouldn’t even have to be said, but do not use this attack to promote Islamophobia. Yes, the guy was Muslim. So are millions of other people who do not behave this way. Just because one man acts in a certain way does not mean you can apply his behavior to everyone that follows his religion. That’s like saying that all Christians behave like the members of the Westboro Baptist Church or the KKK. Just don’t do it. America is the land of the free, and in case you’ve forgotten, that includes freedom of religion.

2) Speak For God

I have seen a sickening amount of people claiming that this attack was God’s judgment on the victims for being gay, or that it was punishment for our country because we now allow same-sex marriage. Not only are these horrible things to say, but you do not speak for God. I repeat, you do not speak for God. You are not God. You cannot claim that this was His work. This was the work of a man, no more.

3) Congratulate The Shooter

Do not treat this attack as something positive. This goes along with the last one a bit, but it needs to be said again. Your opinions and feelings about the LGBTQ+ community are irrelevant. If you think this was a good thing, you are an objectively terrible person, and I suggest you look into counseling or therapy to help you find some sort of empathy for your fellow human beings.

4) Advance Your Agenda

Do not use this attack as the basis for your arguments about guns or immigrants or the LGBTQ+ population. People were murdered. Lives were lost. Lots of people are still hurting. Do not use their pain to promote your political agenda. The victims did not die so that you could have a more convincing argument. They died because they were brave enough to live their lives openly with no shame about who they were. Respect that. Don’t take advantage of it.

5) Be Silent

Do not be silent about the attack. Say something. Again, your opinions and feelings are irrelevant. This cannot go unnoticed. It is a huge deal, and should be treated as such. Address it with love and kindness. Let the LGBTQ+ people in your life know that while you might not be feeling exactly what they are, you acknowledge their pain. But if you do choose to remain silent, understand that you are invalidating the pain of millions of people. You’re disrespecting those who died, and you’re as good as saying that their lives, their deaths, do not matter. And you’re just wrong.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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If You've Ever Been Called Overly-Emotional Or Too Sensitive, This Is For You

Despite what they have told you, it's a gift.
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Emotional: a word used often nowadays to insult someone for their sensitivity towards a multitude of things.

If you cry happy tears, you're emotional. If you express (even if it's in a healthy way) that something is bothering you, you're sensitive. If your hormones are in a funk and you just happen to be sad one day, you're emotional AND sensitive.

Let me tell you something that goes against everything people have probably ever told you. Being emotional and being sensitive are very, very good things. It's a gift. Your ability to empathize, sympathize, and sensitize yourself to your own situation and to others' situations is a true gift that many people don't possess, therefore many people do not understand.

Never let someone's negativity toward this gift of yours get you down. We are all guilty of bashing something that is unfamiliar to us: something that is different. But take pride in knowing God granted this special gift to you because He believes you will use it to make a difference someday, somehow.

This gift of yours was meant to be utilized. It would not be a part of you if you were not meant to use it. Because of this gift, you will change someone's life someday. You might be the only person that takes a little extra time to listen to someone's struggle when the rest of the world turns their backs.

In a world where a six-figure income is a significant determinant in the career someone pursues, you might be one of the few who decides to donate your time for no income at all. You might be the first friend someone thinks to call when they get good news, simply because they know you will be happy for them. You might be an incredible mother who takes too much time to nurture and raise beautiful children who will one day change the world.

To feel everything with every single part of your being is a truly wonderful thing. You love harder. You smile bigger. You feel more. What a beautiful thing! Could you imagine being the opposite of these things? Insensitive and emotionless?? Both are unhealthy, both aren't nearly as satisfying, and neither will get you anywhere worth going in life.

Imagine how much richer your life is because you love other's so hard. It might mean more heartache, but the reward is always worth the risk. Imagine how much richer your life is because you are overly appreciative of the beauty a simple sunset brings. Imagine how much richer your life is because you can be moved to tears by the lessons of someone else's story.

Embrace every part of who you are and be just that 100%. There will be people who criticize you for the size of your heart. Feel sorry for them. There are people who are dishonest. There are people who are manipulative. There are people who are downright malicious. And the one thing people say to put you down is "you feel too much." Hmm...

Sounds like more of a compliment to me. Just sayin'.

Cover Image Credit: We Heart It

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The Biggest Sister Scandal In The Beauty Community

James Charles is corrupted by his fame and ultimately set up his failure.

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The beauty community tea is piping hot. Tati Westbrook uploaded a forty-three minute long video basically outing James Charles as a sexual predator and explained how she was there for him through all of his struggles, just to find out she was only a piece in his game of success. James Charles then posted a not-so convincing eight minute apology video and the internet went crazy.

In Tati's video we gain insight on James Charles' personality when the camera is off. Come to find out, a lot of influencers already knew James Charles to be a predator as he is constantly messaging and hitting on straight guys. When someone is presumed a predator, most of their victims come forth and share their experience, James Charles is no exception. There have been multiple people post videos about their experience with him, most of which have similar outcomes of James being turned down, getting heartbroken, and basically telling them that they definitely are not straight. Many of the people who had posted videos about their experience with James involve alcohol, whether he is trying to get them drunk or being suggestive while the other person is drunk. He goes after straight guys that he has no chance with and then plays the victim. Many influencers that had been there for him since the beginning of his career knew that his predatory tendencies were an issue and had actually spoken to him about it, telling him that if he doesn't stop it would be the downfall of his career. But as he was gaining more success, it seems as though he didn't think it would make a difference.

When I first heard about James Charles being canceled, I really wanted to be on his side. I thought that maybe this whole situation is blown way out of proportion, but when I watched the videos it was really clear that this was the shock that James Charles needs to fix himself. At first, it seems like a random video post that shouldn't have been public, but Tati explains that she tried to talk to James, he just doesn't listen. His only excuse is that he is a celebrity, so why would any of his actions have consequences?

Before James was famous, he was ambitious and had huge potential. It seems as though he was really kind, humble, and willing to do whatever it takes to reach his goal. However, when fame got to his head, he lost sight of who he is. It seems as though he is unwilling to compromise and wants to control most of the people he interacts with. Based on many sources of evidence, it's clear to see that James only cares about himself and his career and it doesn't matter who he hurt including strangers, close friends, and relatives.

It is really sad to see someone who is still in their teens go from really successful to hated by millions of his supporters. His ego and entitlement was the downfall of his career. I have hope that he will take a break and be able to redeem himself. Life went from all good to chaos in a matter of one day. Many people and brands do not want to be associated with him because of his predatory tendencies and entitlement, which would make it difficult to get a job outside of YouTube. Looking at James as a person and not like a celebrity, this must be one of the most difficult times in his life. However, it is hard to feel bad for him as he set up his own demise. He made fatal mistakes, but if he can get his act together and make the correct apologies I think he can bounce back, but handle the responsibility as a celebrity correctly after his biggest sister scandal.

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