I wrote a post called “What Can I Do” exactly one year ago tomorrow in response to a tragic mass shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC. I am heartbroken that almost exactly a year later, it is necessary to repost this, changing just a few words, in response to yet another tragic mass shooting, this time at Club Pulse in Orlando, FL. I look at these two events happening less than a year apart, and I am horrified, HORRIFIED as an American, as a person of color, as a citizen of the world that this is happening. Sending love to the Orlando victims, those who love them, the LGBTQ and Latinx communities, and also remembering the lives lost at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC and mourning with my black brothers and sisters as the anniversary of that tragic event approaches. Come on, America. We’ve got to do better. Modified repost as follows:
When I woke up to the horrific news of the tragedy at Club Pulse in Orlando, I immediately thought of many of my dear friends in the LGBTQ and Latinx communities, and wondered how they were faring. As I texted and messaged my friends individually to check in, I found that the overwhelming emotions are, as expected, sadness and anger. And I thought to myself, “What can I do? How can I make their burden lighter?”
How does someone outside the LGBTQ and Latinx communities support friends within the community without 1) co-opting their experience, 2) intruding upon their private and sacred spaces — literally, verbally, and emotionally, and 3) taking over the conversation or diverting attention from where it belongs?
After much thought and conversation, I would like to offer a few suggestions:
1. Get personal. Reach out to those within your circle and let them know that you are thinking about them. If you’re the praying sort, offer prayers. Lord knows this country needs our prayers for healing and love right now.
2. Validate. There is an enormous amount of legitimate and righteous anger within the LGBTQ and Latinx communities. LGBTQ people and people of color are experiencing more violence today than I have ever personally seen in my lifetime. It is terrifying and horrific and rightfully enrages and ignites the ire of the LGBTQ and Latinx communities. You don’t have to understand or agree with the responses or actions to validate the emotion. Yes, the LGBTQ and Latinx communities have a right to be angry. Validate their right to that emotion.
3. Lift and amplify their voices. The LGBTQ and Latinx communities are speaking. Are we listening? Share their stories. Share their articles and their posts and their comments. In the wise words of my friend Fatimah Salleh, “Step in front, and then step aside.” Raise your voice to elevate theirs, and then move aside and let them speak for themselves.
I am mourning with the LGBTQ and Latinx communities today. I pray they will find comfort and peace in this very troubled time. You are heard. You are loved. I want to share this burden with you. I am sorry.