Last month, as part of Pride Month, we have marked the 5-year anniversary of the grim terrorist attack on the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida. This horrific attack took the lives of 49 people and wounded 58 more. The victims, primarily LGBTQ and Latinx, had gathered in a supposedly safe place to celebrate their shared culture and identity. This, the largest target attack ever on the LGBTQ community, and second most deadly mass shooting in American history, has changed the LGBTQ community and galvanized a movement to prevent gun violence.
I can hardly believe it has been five years. I vividly remember hearing the news that hot June night, the communal anguish, and the candlelight vigils. We lost 49 brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, veterans, youngsters, and celebrating graduates that night. All innocent. We swore never again.
How many times we have said that: Never Again. Every day the news bulletins bring more reports of mass shootings. There have been 272 mass shootings so far this year according to the Gun Violence Archive. There are over 10,000 gun-related hate crimes in the US each year. That’s more than 28 attacks per day. The gun homicide rate in the US is 25 times higher than that of other high-income countries. 58 percent of American adults or someone they care for have experienced gun violence in their lifetime.
Gun violence disproportionately effects LGBTQ people, especially queer and trans people of color. Pulse was not an isolated event. Recent years have brought a marked increase in anti-LGBTQ hate crimes, especially against transgender people. The Southern Poverty Law Center reports that the number of anti-LGBTQ hate groups increased by 43% in 2019. At least three-fourths of homicides against transgender people have involved a gun.1
We are living amid an epidemic of gun violence that demands immediate action. LGBTQ voices have joined the chorus of people calling for Congress to make our country safer by putting in place common sense gun laws and closing the enormous loophole that allows people convicted of violence or threatening hate crimes to purchase guns.
How many more of our brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, do we have to bury before we as a society take action? Let’s make 2021 a year of advocacy and action rather than complacency. We must each do our part.
No more candlelight vigils. Never again.
 “Remembering and Honoring Pulse: Anti-LGBTQ Bias and Guns are Taking Lives of Countless LGBTQ People,” a report by the Human Rights Campaign and the Giffords Law Center, 2020.
 Grinshteyn E, Hemenway D. Violent death rates in the US compared to those of the other high-income countries, 2015. Preventive Medicine. 2019; 123: 20-26.
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