Our hearts are heavy and we are filled with sadness and outrage in the wake of the shooting that occurred on June 11th at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida, leaving 50 people dead and 53 injured.
It is the worst mass shooting inside the United States in US history. As a nation, we must address the epidemic of gun violence that is rampant in our county before more innocent lives are lost. What can we do every day to foster a greater spirit of community, love, and safety for ourselves and those around us? The fact that this tragedy happened during celebrations for the month of pride for the LGBTQ compounds this tragedy as a targeted hate crime, sending shock waves throughout the nation at a peak of celebration of life, and joy in identity.
And while 53 victims lay in hospital beds waiting for help, Florida maintains laws preventing LGBTQ people from donating blood. This cruel discrimination against the LGBTQ community acts as its own system of violence, further marginalizing an already targeted community.
Preventing hate crimes, gun violence, and discrimination must be at the forefront of our priorities as a country, and we must strive more than ever to build bridges of understanding between ourselves and others. Our lives, and the lives of our loved ones, literally depend on it.