I was born and raised in Florida. I grew up on beaches and at Disney, leaving sand wherever I went and never wearing “real” shoes until I moved to Texas after graduation. I was at the opening weekend of Harry Potter world (both times), and I had annual passes to either Disney or Universal for the majority of my life. I went to the University of Central Florida for college, and for 4.5 years, Orlando was my heart and soul.
A few weeks ago, the deadliest mass shooting by a single gunman and the deadliest incident of violence against LGBT occurred in my home. A massacre took place in my home. The morning I woke up after the incident, I was confused. I kept seeing “Orlando” on social media, and I didn’t get it. We usually don’t get attention for things other than tourist traps. As I dug through the news I realized what happened. I realize that my school, my family, my home had been attacked.
You never think it’ll happen where you live. Where you know people. Facebook was asking my friends to mark themselves as safe. It asked me to mark myself as safe. With a pounding heart I typed the names of my LGBT friends, praying that they were okay. Family members who are LGBT in Orlando who were normally there, and friends who celebrate pride all had different statuses. “I was sick and didn’t go out…” “I was out of town, otherwise I would have been there…” “I was just there yesterday, I can’t believe this…”
My feed, my entire feed, was filled with people I’ve hung out with, drank with, bonded with, and befriended. My feed was filled with sadness, fear, and pain. My feed was filled with Orlando because my feed is Orlando. I can’t even begin to imagine what it feels like to be a part of the LGBT community during this. As an ally, as someone with gay family members, I only know the panic I felt when I saw the news, when I searched for their names, when I cried over the lives lost.
I’m not the only one. People from all over the world shared the anguish over this massacre. Recently, Ryan Murphy, creator of basically every show we love, decided to honor the victims. In an extremely emotional tribute, the stories of the people we lost are told. Their faces are seen. Their names are said. They are not forgotten.
Hug your loved ones a little harder. Do what you can to change the world. And always, always remember, love is love is love. #OrlandoStrong..
To support the survivors and stop the hate, click here.
Image via Youtube