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TRAGIC KINGDOM: Massacre at Orlando LGBT nightclub exposes wider problem of hate, indifference

Phelan M. Ebenhack / Associated Press
Orlando, Fla. police officers direct family members away from the mass shooting at the Pulse LGBT nightclub.
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OKLAHOMA CITY -- The single largest shooting massacre in the history of our nation has just taken place in Orlando, Florida. Let that fact sink in for a moment. I write these words with tears in my eyes, pain in my heart, and a mind that is filling quickly with anger.

Fifty is the number of dead reported thus far. There is, though, far more to this sickening tragedy than numbers. Every single one of those killed was a person. A gay man or woman, a transgender person, a friend or ally of someone who is LGBT.

Fifty people whose families will never see them again. Fifty individuals who will never realize their lives’ ambitions.

Fifty Americans who held onto the promise of equality and justice for all people, only to meet the cruel truth that this remains a dream unrealized.

Fifty people who were sons and daughters, sisters and brothers, friends, coworkers, lovers, spouses, parents.

Fifty people who left their homes last night to celebrate a sense of community pride, to drink a toast to collective accomplishments, perhaps to glimpse a loving future.

Fifty people who did not live to see the sun rise over Florida today. Fifty people who will live only in obscure memory.

As people the world over are offering prayers and supportive comments for those who were slain and injured (over 50) in this massacre, and for all of those whose lives have been impacted by this horrendous act, we all await more information, more news, any glimpse of hope. Tragically, information and news will be far easier to find today than hope.

Within minutes of the very first reports, social media was awash in those who would use this horror to promote the inhuman approach one presidential candidate has set forth to addressing the “Muslim problem.”

Others spewed their own brand of inhumanity be declaring this was yet another example of “God’s judgement.” What kind of nation are we that allows us to trample over 50 dead bodies to incite even more violence? What are we teaching our children and grandchildren?

Sadly, that can be summed up in this tweet by one high school kid: “Fifty less faggots!!! Yea!!!”

Even the early reports included reference to this being an act of terrorism, whether domestic or foreign. That certainly is the case. With millions of LGBT people and their friends celebrating

Pride around the world this month, will any of us possibly feel safe while we march in a parade, dance in the streets, or even hold hands with our partners? We will not because we cannot. We have all been stricken by terror today, a terror that will, for many, stay with us for the rest of our lives.

As reports come forth about a lone gunman, I can’t help but think that this monster was simply the one who pulled the trigger. He did not act alone. Indeed, he received plenty of ammunition from many individuals, institutions, and organizations. So while one man may be guilty of murdering fifty innocent people, there are countless others with blood on their hands.

Every Christian pastor who addressed their congregation this morning but failed to offer prayers for those in the club and warning against the evils of hate has blood on their hands.

Every Muslim Cleric who has railed against LGBT person has blood on their hands.

Every mother who has laughed at a gay joke and every father who has allowed his kids to berate LGBT people has blood on their hands.

Every teacher or school administrator who allowed a gay kid to be bullied has blood on their hands.

Every politician, every clergyperson, every public figure who has not stood in support of LGBT equality has blood on their hands. Some of these include Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum, Donald Trump, Pat Robertson, Oral Roberts, Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney … and the list goes on.

Want examples closer to home in Oklahoma? Sally Kern, Mary Fallin, Rev. Steve Kern, Pastor Paul Blair, Pastor Tom Vineyard and his Windsor Hills Baptist Church flock, every single Oklahoma Representative and Senator who supported the national record of anti-LGBT legislation this year. These people, and all of their supporters, have blood on their hands.

But those of us within the LGBT community are not without blame. Some of us have been so tightly focused on our own self-aggrandizing work or pet issues that we have failed miserably to address the intense racism within our community. Some of us would “never march in a parade” or raise our voices in defiance of hate but reap the benefits of broader equality.

Some of us have spent so long in our ivory towers that we have no understanding or care for those lesbians, gay men, and transgender individuals who fear going home every night. We all have blame to share and blood on our hands.

Almost certainly some of the families who are in Orlando, visiting Snow White’s castle at Disney World' Magic Kingdom today, will feel untouched by the horrific nature of the senseless slaughter that took place a short walk from their hotels. Many families who went to church this morning and are enjoying a leisurely Sunday afternoon with friends will feel so distanced from this massacre that they will give it little thought. It was a shooting in a gay club, after all. It really doesn’t impact them.

But it does. And it impacts every single American today and it will into the future. As a society, a culture, we are all witnessing-- and being impacted by-- hate.

We must all, and that means every person, every family, every community, every congregation, every company, every entity, must stand together to stop a sick culture where hate is festering into the kind of violence we saw this morning.

This goes beyond the election, it goes beyond those killed and their families and friends, it goes beyond the LGBT community.

Liberty stands today on a precarious precipice. If we do not act together, united by a collective commitment to eradicate hateful speech and hate-filled actions, we have no future as a nation or as a society.

This is my problem to deal with. And it is yours.

Scott J. Hamilton is a nationally-recognized LGBT advocate based in Oklahoma City. He was the former executive director of the LGBT advocacy organization Cimarron Alliance.

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