I Will Keep Fighting – Reflections a week on from Orlando

It’s been a week since the LGBT hate crime in Orlando and to be perfectly honest I’m still not sure what to say.

I am a member of the LGBTQ+ community and I was devastated when I woke up last Sunday to hear what had unfolded during the Latinx night at Pulse nightclub. I attended the Vigil for the Orlando victims in Leeds on Monday night. I spoke to friends and family members about what had happened, how they felt, what they thought…

And yet when I told someone I was going to write a post about Orlando, they asked “Why? You’ve got enough on your plate, do you need to? ”

No I suppose I don’t “need” to. After all what good is writing a post about it going to do? Perhaps they are right about that, this post isn’t going to bring back those people, it’s not going to change the world.

It’s been a week, plenty of other terrible events have happened around the world since last weekend. But the impact of this horrific hate crime hasn’t stopped because 7 days have passed. Time passing does not mean this tragedy is not still haunting the thoughts of people around the world. It does not mean that LGBTQ+ people don’t feel scared to go to LGBT venues anymore or be the person they really are.

I can’t help but think so this is what it takes? 49 people have to be murdered for people to think:

“Oh maybe we’re not quite at equal rights yet”

“Maybe allowing same sex marriage hasn’t made everything wonderful for the gay community.”

No it hasn’t and no we aren’t treated equally. This LGBT hate crime was a horrific display of homophobia, biphobia and transphobia but please do not make the mistake of thinking this is a one off hate crime. Please do not think that LGBTQ+ individuals around the world are not subjected to mockery, cruelty and even violence on a daily basis because trust me we are.

From the stares walking down the street holding your partner’s hand

The questioning looks in public when someone says “is that a boy or a girl?”

The person who tells you to go to the “right” bathroom

The family gatherings where you should be happy that you’re allowed to bring your “friend”

The “you’re so gay” comment made when someone does something stupid

The stereotype based bullying of the more masculine girl at school or the more effeminate boy

To be honest I could write on and on about the way the LGBTQ+ community are treated and how frankly tiring it can be. I could talk about the assault and murder figures for Trans People of Colour, especially Trans Women. I could talk about the self-harm and suicide rates amongst LGBTQ+ youth. But even as I write this, there is a small part of me saying “well who is really going to read this, who is really going to care” because after all it seems the vast majority of people only care when 49 individuals are murdered. But I have to believe that this will get better, I have to believe that these every day hate incidents and hate crimes will start being challenged and start getting rarer because if not what is the point of what I do.

I am very well aware that I have not written anything ground breaking here and that some people may read this and think “I’ve read this in every other LGBTQ+ blog.” But if reading these posts makes someone think twice about staring the next time they see a gay couple holding hands in public or whispering to their friend when they question a stranger’s gender, then trust me I am more than happy to be as repetitive as the next LGBTQ+ blog.

And to anyone out there reading this feeling alone and fed up, please know that you are not alone and these every day hate incidents are not something you should just “get used to.” Being targeted because of your sexuality or gender identity is wrong. The hate is wrong, you are not wrong. You are important and your identity is valid. So if you feel safe and comfortable to do so, please report it when you suffer a hate incident or hate crime. There are people out there who care and will do their best to support you.

So what has this horrific hate crime taught me? I guess it’s taught me what I knew but didn’t like to admit to myself, that essentially we have so much further to go and so much more to fight for. I for one am going to keep fighting and I would love it if you did too.

Oliver O’D – Assistant Advocate and Helpline Operator, Stop Hate UK

In response to the LGBT hate crime in Orlando Stop Hate UK have reopened the LGB & T hate crime helpline across England, Scotland and Wales. Report LGBT hate crime 24 hours a day on 0808 801 0661

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