Remembering lives lost on this tragic day — and every day

Embracing love at the Pride Parade
I’m hugging it out and embracing love at the last Pride Parade!

It is the day that those of us who celebrate Pride Month are remembering the struggle for affirmation, acceptance, and love in the LGBTQ+ community is real too.

Five years ago today, I was one of many Americans and people all over the world over who were horrified to learn of the mass shooting in Orlando, Florida that targeted the LGBTQ+ community. Forty-nine people were killed, ranging in ages between 18 and 50. When I try to imagine the lives being lived – working, going to school, enjoying time with their families, their partners, their spouses their children – it is equally hard for me to imagine the hate someone would need to perpetrate such a mass slaughter.  

How could such evil exist in our world! 

I’ve spent my professional life in public service working with all kinds of children and adults. The path that celebrates difference will set us free to enjoy each other and this world.

We know our LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters have a long struggle in the fight for human and civil rights.  We know that there are other marginalized populations who continue to struggle for their own affirmation and their own rights to live fully free and lead opportunity rich lives, regardless of race, identity, culture, or religion.  And though the road to equity may seem fraught with pitfalls, I still hope for unity and common purpose so that we can all simply live.

How could such evil exist in our world! “

— Forty-nine people were killed, ranging in ages between 18 and 50, IN ORLANDO, FLORIDA and 60 people in Atlanta whose lives were ended by violence this year

Today is a day that I call on our community to support the people we have lost including those in Atlanta. It’s so many…too many: 49 in the Orlando shooting and more than 60 people in Atlanta whose lives were ended by violence this year.

Turn your fear into effective action to change outcomes.

For Atlanta’s public safety issue, it’s time to build and support a fully-staffed, well-trained, competitively-paid, and community-focused police and fire departments to end the violent crime spike across our community and provide the protections we need to feel safe and secure in our neighborhoods.

Rotary Pride map
Champion organizations that offer resources and guidance such as Rotary (I’m a member), No Place for Hate, and the Anti-Defamation League!

For our brothers and sisters in the LGBTQ+ community, our commitment to simple acts offering a listening ear, providing a safe space in your classroom, your office, and your home starts to let others know they welcomed and respected by you. Take it upon yourself to learn: read inclusive book choices to get informed on issues that matter. You can champion great organizations such as  No Place for Hate® | Anti-Defamation League (adl.org) that offer resources that can readily be implemented, support events such as your local Pride Parade, give to worthy causes that provide much needed dollars to message and provide resources to those in the LGBTQ+ community who may be struggling emotionally or mentally.  See here for a place to start  LGBT Organizations in United States | Equaldex.

“Turn your fear into effective action to change outcomes.”

We know that it is nearly impossible to be protected against violence because of mental illness and pure hate, but no one wants to die or lose a loved one to a random act of gun violence especially by people who should have never been licensed to have or have access to a gun. There are signs, evidence, and clues if we took the time to vet people more carefully.

My heart goes out to the families and friends of those lost on June 12, 2016 as well as those in our local community who have also suffered loss. 

I am thinking of them today and promise to do my part to ensure hearts and minds are opened to the humanity within each of us.

Getting into “good trouble” with the late Congressman John Lewis, a champion for LGBTQ+ community and civil and human rights.

Celebrate Pride Month!

Pride rock
A gift from a fellow Pride Parade participant! #PrideRocks

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