The Orlando massacre was a horrifying event for not just the LGBTQ community and not just Americans, but for the world. It was an act of hate that serves as a reminder that there are still those out there who don’t accept things that they don’t understand. There are still those out there that hold so much hate in their hearts that they are willing to destroy countless lives.
And that’s a thought that keeps me from sleeping at night. How is it possible for someone to hate one group of people so much that cold-blooded murder seems like the only solution? How is it possible to dehumanize someone because of their sexuality? Being gay isn’t a choice. Ask anyone who identifies as gay, lesbian, trans, bisexual, or even straight. Do straight people choose who they love? No. No one chooses. So why would you hate them for it?
It’s the same as persecuting someone because of their skin color. It’s not a choice. And even if it was, it shouldn’t matter. It doesn’t affect you. You might hate a burglar for stealing from you. That hate is a little more understandable (to a point), because his stealing has led to your direct misfortune. But a man sleeping with another man? That has no bearing on you; it shouldn’t matter.
Where does all of that hate come from? As investigators have dug deeper into the psyche of the killer, they’re saying that he had been seen inside the club several times before and may have had homosexual tendencies. So, was all of his hate a culmination of his own self-loathing? Even so, how does that merit killing so many others?
I can only hope that some good will come from this. Maybe, just maybe, some people will realize that they have let their hate go too far. Maybe they’ll realize that, if they don’t take a step back and let go of their hate, things will get out of hand. That doesn’t mean people need to change their own values; they can still hold onto their personal values. If you disagree with gay marriage, that’s your opinion. But that doesn’t mean you should hate everyone who believes in it. It’s time to let go of all that hate and start accepting the way people live their lives, even if you can’t understand it.
That’s why it’s so important to talk about issues like sexuality. Without a discussion, there’s no chance for acceptance or understanding. A confused teen might be brimming with anger, unable to understand why she is only attracted to other girls. Instead of letting that anger fester and turn into something worse, a conversation with a friend or family member might help her understand that there’s nothing wrong with her. Eventually, a single conversation can turn her self-hatred into self-love and acceptance.
And so, in honor of all those we lost in Orlando, let’s remember to stop the hate and get the conversation started on acceptance. We will always remember the people who were lost in the shooting, and can only hope that the world will one day embrace everyone, regardless of race, religion, or sexuality.