Orlando's Shots Heard Around The World

Orlando's Shots Heard Around The World

Remembering the Victims of the Orlando Shooting
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Five years ago I came out as being gay.

Coming out was one of the scariest things I have ever done. Being openly gay in a world that consistently spews hatred is terrifying. After coming out, I was instantly embraced by the LGBTQ community. I was shown pride, love, and immense acceptance. Tonight, I mourn for the LGBTQ community, who I've come to call my family. Tonight my heart is shattered, my world is shaken. I am still trying to swallow this truth. Tonight I mourn, but I refuse to look away.

At approximately 2:00 am on Sunday, June 12, 2016, twenty-nine year old American-born Omar Mateen walked into the Pulse Night Club and opened fire with a loaded assault rifle and pistol. The Pulse was known as a "Lifeline for Florida's LGBTQ community", providing a safe place to be open, free, and have a good time. This place of refuge from the difficulties of every day life was torn apart by gun violence. Fifty innocent lives have been taken, and at least fifty more are currently in critical condition. The number of lives that this tragedy will take is innumerable.

This is not about the shooter. This is about the strength of the LGBTQ community to consistently stand up in the face of tragedy and choose to spread love. This love is stronger than any bullet and any gun.

Since same-sex marriage was declared a national freedom in 2015, many believe that the LGBTQ community is finally equal. We can marry our partners, but we continue to live in fear that they will be taken away by senseless acts of violence. While laws may have changed, hatred and discrimination are still extremely prevalent. When you pair deeply-rooted sexual orientation discrimination with high-caliber assault weapons we see what we have seen today in Orlando: devastation. We are not fully free, we are not fully equal. We still live in fear of hate crimes and violence. We still live in fear.

Despite this, what I have learned from being a part of the LGBTQ community is that hatred is not stronger than love. Love always wins, love always hopes. We must not ever let our fears and their cruelty deter our pride. We must never allow them to penetrate our joy. We must show hope, pride, courage, and love in the face of great adversity- in the face of great pain.

The words of Anne Frank are used often in times of great loss, but I still believe them to be true. "In spite of everything, I still believe people are really good at heart." There is too much pride and love in this world to be overcome by hate.

We must celebrate the beautiful, courageous lives of those who we lost, of those who are still fighting, and of those whose spirits are currently broken and finding repair. It is incredibly difficult to know that the worst mass shooting in American history was targeted towards a community based on love and acceptance. However, if ANY group of people is able to continue in the face of incredible strife- it is the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community.

The shots of the gunman were heard around the world- and the world is responding with an outpouring of love and knowledge that OUR FIGHT IS NOT OVER. We will continue to fight until discrimination and hatred over simply being free and expressing love is abolished.

Love cannot be killed. Love always wins. Never will the fallen be forgotten.

The following are the names and photographs of known, identified victims. This list will be updated as more information continues to come out.

In Memory


Stanley Manolo Almodovar III. 23. Pharmacy Technician from Springfield, MA.


Edward Sotomayor Jr. 34. National Brand Manager of Al and Chuck Travel Company.

Juan Ramon Guerrero. 22 years old.

Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera. 36. Originally from Puerto Rico.

Peter O. Gonzalez-Cruz. Originally from Benoni, South Africa. Worked for UPS.

Luis Omar Ocasio-Capo. 20. Loved to dance.


Luis Vielma. 22 years old.

Kimberly "KJ" Morris. 37. Originally from Connecticut, living in Orlando.

If you wish to help support the victims of this attack- here's what you can do:

1. Donate blood - NO ONE WILL BE TURNED AWAY!


2. Donate Funds- Click here to donate

3. Volunteer with Organizations- The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Center of Central Florida, The New York City Anti-Violence Project, Trevor Project

4. Advocate Against Gun Violence -

5. Reach out to your friends, family, and loved ones in the LGBTQ community- Stay safe. Take the time to care for your mental health and physical well being in this time of great, great sorrow.

"And all they know of hate, is that it couldn't beat the love out of me" - Andrea Gibson




Cover Image Credit: Tumblr

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To The Friends I Won't Talk To After High School

I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.
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Hey,

So, for the last four years I’ve seen you almost everyday. I’ve learned about your annoying little brother, your dogs and your crazy weekend stories. I’ve seen you rock the awful freshman year fashion, date, attend homecoming, study for AP tests, and get accepted into college.

Thank you for asking me about my day, filling me in on your boy drama and giving me the World History homework. Thank you for complimenting my outfits, laughing at me presenting in class and listening to me complain about my parents. Thank you for sending me your Quizlets and being excited for my accomplishments- every single one of them. I appreciate it all because I know that soon I won’t really see you again. And that makes me sad. I’ll no longer see your face every Monday morning, wave hello to you in the hallways or eat lunch with you ever again. We won't live in the same city and sooner or later you might even forget my name.

We didn’t hang out after school but none the less you impacted me in a huge way. You supported my passions, stood up for me and made me laugh. You gave me advice on life the way you saw it and you didn’t have to but you did. I think maybe in just the smallest way, you influenced me. You made me believe that there’s lots of good people in this world that are nice just because they can be. You were real with me and that's all I can really ask for. We were never in the same friend group or got together on the weekends but you were still a good friend to me. You saw me grow up before your eyes and watched me walk into class late with Starbucks every day. I think people like you don’t get enough credit because I might not talk to you after high school but you are still so important to me. So thanks.

With that said, I truly hope that our paths cross one day in the future. You can tell me about how your brothers doing or how you regret the college you picked. Or maybe one day I’ll see you in the grocery store with a ring on your finger and I’ll be so happy you finally got what you deserved so many guys ago.

And if we ever do cross paths, I sincerely hope you became everything you wanted to be. I hope you traveled to Italy, got your dream job and found the love of your life. I hope you have beautiful children and a fluffy dog named Charlie. I hope you found success in love before wealth and I hope you depended on yourself for happiness before anything else. I hope you visited your mom in college and I hope you hugged your little sister every chance you got. She’s in high school now and you always tell her how that was the time of your life. I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.

And hey, maybe I’ll see you at the reunion and maybe just maybe you’ll remember my face. If so, I’d like to catch up, coffee?

Sincerely,

Me

Cover Image Credit: High school Musical

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American Or Christian?

Can you really be both?

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This is a thought that has lingered in my mind for a very long time.

Personally, I hate news and politics. It's depressing and it seems like both parties (and people in general) just don't get it. Political conversation gets on my ever-loving nerves and literally gets me down in the dumps for the day.

I just simply don't watch it anymore. There is too much negativity.

That doesn't mean that I am uniformed. I am not advocating for ignorance or anything like that. I prefer to read and figure out my information from sites "in the middle."

As I was eating dinner with my wife the other day we started talking about the new Abortion laws in Alabama and Georgia. As a Christ-follower and a staunch defender of Biblical inerrant, I detest abortion.

Before you read any farther, you must understand something: This article is not about my defense of my beliefs regarding hot topics like abortion or homosexuality. I do not have the time to write about said topics now. I am just asking you to accept what I believe for the sake of the article.

But, anyway, these abortion bills. I can make a pretty good case that they are Constitutional because they are protecting the Life (one of the Rights given to American Citizens) from others. Yes, I know the arguments against said point but continue with me please.

This led our conversation to talk about Homosexual marriage, something that I am against as well. And not just because of Leviticus but because of the New Testament as well.

But, shaking my head, I said something that my wife seemed to agree with:

"As a Christian, I know it's wrong and I cannot agree with it. As an American, I see no reason why it should be illegal. Unless your choices infringe someone's Rights, you should be free to do what you wish (technically speaking)."

This is my dilemma. Well, actually it's not a dilemma. I know that I am a Christian before I am an American. I love this country greatly, and I know how blessed I am to be born here. For all the hate this country gets (and some of it is deserved) and all the problems we have (and we have a lot), we are shoulders above other countries in many ways. I am so thankful for all the men and women who have served to protect me and keep me safe. I'm thankful for a lot of things. And I am proud to be an American.

But my identity in Christ comes first. This is why I do not get into politics much. I don't really care at the end of the day. Because while America has been blessed, we still have work to do here. And this is not my forever home. This is not where I will spend eternity.

I try and respect everyone's opinions, and I earnestly try to love everyone, even when they trash and disrespect my beliefs and convictions. But I must put my call to Christ about anything that has to do with this nation. I will pray for ALL our leaders because I was told to do so (I prayed for President Obama when he was in office). And I will be here to support this nation. But I cannot put it above Christ's commands.

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