In the morning after the Orlando shooting, I opened various social media platforms to timelines bursting of facts and updates of the developing story of what took place. As the story grew and I found out that the massacre was committed by a radicalized Islamic man who was known to hate gay individuals I thought in my mind “Oh, no.”
After watching news updates over and over again about the shooting, I began to look at the comments people were making on the videos and articles. Many were mourning the loss of 49 individuals, but others were very different. I read comments saying how what Omar Mateen did should be celebrated because gay people do not belong on this planet or that this is the reason why no Muslim individuals should not be able to live in this country, and for a second I was actually embarrassed to be an American.
I’m embarrassed because some people in this country do not know the meaning of actually being an American living in this country. Yes, it is your constitutional right to speak your opinion, but that does not mean you have the right to harass and bully someone that believes, feels, or leads a different life style than you do.
The hateful words you say about a gay or Muslim individual after this massacre will not change anything. Sure, people who believe in the same ignorant views you do will cheer you on and agree with you, but the rest of the world who believes in equality and acceptance will look at you and be ashamed of the fact that they live in the same country as individuals like you.
Individuals who hate on religions or lifestyles are keeping our country in a place of the past. We have grown as a country tremendously since major issues of prejudice and the people who are keeping this mind set are dragging us down. We have become a country that is going to be known to be divided during a time of mourning, and that's not okay.
So to the person who is sticking up for their right of freedom of speech to harass gay and Muslim individuals, I think you’re forgetting of the other rights this country has; freedom of religion and the pursuit of happiness. Stop picking and choosing the rights you believe in.
And to the people who have mourned this past week over the Orlando shooting but have continued to keep an open mind, thank you.
Thank you for restoring my faith in the United States of America and for making me realize that there is hope that these hateful individuals who are dividing our country will one day realize that what their saying is hurtful and wrong.