Monday 13-06-2016 - 16:24
A guest blog by NUS Scotland's LGBT+ Officer-Elect, Jack Douglas
On Sunday, we began to see reports of the largest mass shooting in American history and one of the largest massacres against LGBT+ people in recent history in the West. At the time of writing 50 people have died, with more injured after a gunman opened fire on an LGBT+ venue.
Despite the recent advances our movement has made, the fact that people can be killed based on who they love or what they define as is unthinkable. This tragedy is sending ripples of fear around the world and I want to say that our thoughts go out to everyone affected.
LGBT+ spaces and events are not just bars and nightclubs but places of empowerment and solidarity. They are places in which we can feel safe to be with the one we love and freely with the people we relate to, without fear of ridicule or abuse.
In the next few weeks we will see Pride events where we come together to protest, to celebrate how far we have come but also to highlight how much further we need to go. We cannot let acts of hate crime destroy our spaces. We must be visible in showing our Pride by celebrating who we are and by challenging all types of bigotry where we see it. The Orlando shooting is a harsh reminder that our safe places are still targets of hate and prejudice.
While some of us still aren’t permitted to donate blood it is being spilt daily around the world. Hate crime is on the rise, despite recent success in equality legislation. Attacks on our community can happen anywhere at any time. Orlando serves as a reflection of the scale of the violence the LGBT+ community still faces every day.
It is therefore sad to see some try to erase the violence faced by the LGBT+ community from this tragedy in order to use it as a platform to stigmatise other marginalised groups. We must be conscious and critical of this and not be blinded by their hate filled rhetoric. We have progressed throughout history by using messages of love not hate and we simply cannot let this discrimination go unchallenged.
I’ve never experienced the feeling of so much anger coupled with so much sadness. Sadness for those who have lost their lives and those still in hospital, and anger at the gunman who will spread fear and a lack of trust towards spaces of empowerment. I am also angry at those who have tried to wash out queer people from this tragedy and use it to attack other groups.
We cannot let this be the case, and so, over the next few weeks, whether you are a LGBT+ person or an ally, go to pride, protest and celebrate by showing your visibility, by promoting love not hate and show your unity to LGBT+ people facing attacks around the world. No LGBT+ person should feel unsafe in public or in a place of empowerment and solidarity. So I’ll be at Pride protesting by being as visible as possible and expressing who I am as a queer person. I hope I’ll see you there.