With Pride month two weeks underway, on Sunday, June 12th we were awoken to tragedy. On the news, reports were coming in that 49 members of the gay community, specifically queer latinx and trans, were shot dead and another 50+ were injured inside Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, Florida.
The hurt and pain of the Orlando shooting was felt worldwide but closer to home in Toronto, hundreds were feeling horror and grief over the massacre. Standing up and standing proud, Toronto’s LGBTQIA+ community banded together to hold a candlelight vigil in Barbara Hall Park late Sunday evening for all of the lives lost in Orlando and to honour those who have fallen victim to hate crimes, past and present.
While these shootings are an immense tragedy, it is a painful reminder of how and why events like Pride are so important. The LGBTQIA+ community still faces so much hate and discrimination and together, these events are teaching us to stand united in painful and difficult times. Each and every single day, whether we hear about it or not, LGBT violence takes place. It is why we look to each other and our straight allies to stand tall with us and support us.
Our community needs support, not just during Pride Month, but all throughout the year. With new shootings, that means there are new public displays of homophobia and transphobia. These shootings prove that in our world, no matter how far we think we’ve come, there are still demonstrations of hatred, bigotry and intolerance happening. There are so many ugly issues that go ignored and this is why Pride is so important. It’s not just parades and marketing – there are bigger issues at hand to discuss. We need to focus in on how can we make more queer people safe and how can we work through tragedy to demonstrate that the fight is not over.
While this year’s Pride will have more security measures in place, but not more uniformed officers, I encourage you to go beyond the regular Pride events and take part in some other events including the Human Rights Lecture: Cairo’s 2013 Bathhouse Raid or Pink Flamenco! – a summer dance series or the AIDS Candlelight Vigil. There are many reasons to attend Pride Month but this year, educate yourself and stand in solidarity with your LGBTQIA+ brothers and sisters.
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