The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
It’s really rare that terrible things in the news are truly personal to me. I know that Gen Z especially is just so used to hearing about tragedy after tragedy. It seems like each horrific act of violence in the news is worse than the last. Sometimes, it can be hard for it all to truly stick out, no matter how much advocacy we do for social change.
The recent Club Q shooting was different. As a lesbian, the rise in anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric is alarming. Ultimately, it fuelled a hate crime committed less than a week ago that left 5 dead and 25 injured. It twists my stomach in knots knowing that people within my community, including myself, have to cope with the looming threat of mass violence in 2022.When I heard the news about what happened, I was floored. I read the breaking news articles about it, and I needed to take a minute to collect my thoughts and have a private cry. I’m no stranger to passive homophobia in the form of ignorant comments and remarks, but these horrific acts of violence against the community make me realize just how severe this bigotry epidemic is. I wonder sometimes whether we can ever get past the violence that we’ve historically received (back in the days of secret hole-in-the-wall illegal gay bars).
I know that it can be difficult, especially if you’re closeted or newly out, to hear about these things. It may be easy to give in to your initial fears. You may want to run back in the closet and bolt it shut. Don’t. We are less protected when we hide in the shadows. In times of tragedy, it’s especially important for the whole community to come together and move forward.
How should we do this? Firstly, we absolutely must NOT let the recent shooting dissuade us from going to gay clubs or events. Fear is one of the most effective tools that people like the cowardly shooter have. We must not let people like that discourage us from coming together and living as our authentic selves. If we do, then they’ve won. There is nothing more courageous than being unabashedly yourself in the face of hatred and violence. I know that, despite my grief and underlying fears, I will not let homophobia or the threat of hate crimes break me. My father certainly didn’t raise me to cower in fear, but instead to face things head-on and with steadfast resolve. We MUST band together.
Next, and this is extremely important, we must stand up to dangerous rhetoric when we see it. Of course, this should only be done if it does not put your personal safety/wellbeing at risk. There are several forms of prejudice against the LGBTQ+ community (such as harmful jokes, ignorant statements, etc) that are far too common. Such sentiments pave the way for hate crimes and other mass shooting events like at Club Q. Basically, educate people when you can. We really need our allies now more than ever.
I’m just going to end this article by saying this to anybody reading who is a member of the LGBTQ+ community: We will get through this as a community. We are survivors, and we will be damned if anyone tries to take that from us.