From the outside, the unspeakable horror of the hate-motivated terrorist attack at an Orlando club early Sunday morning cannot be known. For the ecstasy of liberation, in a moment of clarity for LGBT rights, to be ripped apart by such terror—this shreds to ribbons the most tender of hearts.
The safety of all our brethren is corrupted now by the unshakeable fear of gathering in public. Perhaps for that reason, municipal officials in Orlando asked the public last night not to gather for vigils, due to limited public resources. However, the downtown Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts offered its lawn as a place to leave memorial items in the days to come—roads near the nightclub remain closed at this time.
Now, there is only recovery, prevention, and solidarity. Vigils gather across the world. An outpouring of grief turned into demonstration as mourners gathered at New York’s infamous Stonewall Inn, an historically important location for LGBT rights.
Later, a march turned close to violent, as mounted police in Times Square charged journalists and demonstrators, and others manhandled crowd-members. Undeterred, there will be another vigil at the Stonewall Inn, and you can find one of dozens of vigils planned around the globe right here.
To those who physically want to give something to the cause, there are three BloodOne donation centers in the Orlando metro area. There has been such outpouring of support that some news reports are suggesting the blood reserves are currently over-capacity—making an appointment over the next few days is necessary.
Other reports suggest that donating juice and snacks to the blood donation centers (to replenish those who’ve just given blood) are much needed. Elsewhere, you can use this form to contact the city of Orlando, indicating your interest in volunteering or donating to the recovery.
You can also donate to a crowdfunding campaign for victims and their families, which is already exceeding $2 million.
For the rest of us, we have to put ourselves in the context of this tragedy. Who am I to approach this with any degree of understanding? I am at distance, like most of us, watching the news unfold on a screen. There is grief in this world and there is horror; it exists in Orlando and it exists elsewhere, and from it we cannot escape. But I believe we can overcome.
As the Dalai Lama said: “We can let the circumstances of our lives harden us so that we become increasingly resentful and afraid, or we can let them soften us and make us kinder. We always have the choice.”
If you are in anguish because of Sunday’s events, or thrown back to a different trauma, get in touch immediately with someone who can help you. The US Department of Veterans Affairs has information for the general public on how to find help in your area if you’re suffering from PTSD.
Otherwise, take a look through this list of hotline numbers that can offer support. There are many grief counselors and support groups in the Orlando area, listed here. And here you’ll find resources for navigating grief counseling groups, wherever you may be.
People died in a horrific way on Sunday. This is not how life was meant to be. Only our unification in will change this. So, to start, here’s a list of public officials who’ve made it central to their careers to cast a net of hate across the LGBTQ community. And here is where you can find how your representatives stack up on the issues of gun control.
Find your local politicians’ official websites, which will give you an email or physical address by which you can contact them about their policies. Let these people know they don’t represent the hearts and minds of all of us.
What’s happened in Orlando is beyond tragedy. But we can defeat this poison of the mind. There’s a reason all of the above leads to community and unification, to communication and understanding—love is always the why. Empathy can be universal, despite what the attempted division of these attacks imply.
I am so tired. I know you are too. And yet, this is my call: Reach out and love one another. We can only win this together.