The celebratory spirit of pride month has been severely affected by the Orlando Shooting, devastating the LGBTQ community and inciting fear for the upcoming pride parade on July 3.
Forty-nine people were shot and killed in Orlando at 2 a.m early Sunday morning at the Pulse, with 43 others still in the hospital with injuries. Pulse, a gay club in the city, was celebrating a Latin themed night when the shooter opened fire on partygoers. This tragedy is the worst mass shooting against the LGBTQ community in history.
The shooter, Omar Mateen, emphasized his allegiance to the Daesh extremist group and ISIS in a 911 call that took place in the club’s bathroom, where he held 30 hostages until the police shot him at approximately 5 a.m. Mateen had previously been investigated by the FBI for a relation to a suicide bomber in Syria, but there wasn’t enough evidence to file charges.
On Sunday, another man, armed with three assault rifles and explosive chemicals, was arrested in Southern California. He was reportedly headed to the West Hollywood gay pride parade. Today, University of Toronto has also been placed on lock-down due to a young man carrying a gun being reported in the area. It is unclear if this is related to recent events in Orlando.
Targeted attacks on the LGBTQ community are so devastating — there is simply no amount of words to describe the level of sadness and anger that people are experiencing right now. There are no words for the level of pain this has caused a community that has already experienced marginalization for centuries. There are no words for the families and friends of these beloved and innocent individuals.
It is clear that the shooting is a blatant example of the need for more extreme gun laws in the United States. People are not safe and marginalized communities are being needlessly attacked. An attack on Muslim culture (as Donald Trump proceeded to do as quickly as possible) is not appropriate either. Inciting further hatred against a religious group that desires no affiliation with ISIS and its extremist tactics does not respectfully honour the victims of this tragedy.
Toronto Pride month executive director Mathieu Chantelois announced Monday morning that the Pride Parade will be dedicated to the victims of the Orlando shooting. Extra security measures are also set to be implemented at the parade, as well as other pride events throughout the month. The fear that will accompany the remaining events of Pride and at the parade itself is disheartening. People are afraid, and this could affect participation in the important annual celebration of LGBTQ pride.
Though people are fearful, the Orlando shooting gives Toronto the opportunity to ban together as a strong and supportive community for the LGBTQ. It is essential to show homophobic extremists that we will not be broken by misguided hatred. Support the LGBTQ, attend Pride, and let’s show our love for the brothers and sisters that have fallen in Orlando.