|By: Ariella Frishberg | Sexual Assault Program Prevention Specialist|
My first instinct as I processed
the shooting at a gay bar in Orlando on Sunday morning that resulted in the
death of 49 people and injured another 53 (primarily LGBTQ folk of Latinx
descent) was to stay silent. To put my head down, do my work, and grieve behind
closed doors. To let someone else speak up, not because I am speechless, but
because I am so tired of being the one speaking.
As I sit at my desk, listening
to the “Pulse” playlist Spotify has already created and trying not to cry,
however, I know that’s not an option. As a queer woman, this tragedy strikes
too close to home for me to remain silent. I, along with many within my
community, spent the last several days reeling from this event. I have had to
question my safety at the Pride events this coming weekend – events that
originated as a result of acts very similar to this, where police raided gay
and lesbian bars and violently attempted to stop us from being who we are.
Pride is supposed to be a celebration of who we are, how we love, and how far
we’ve come, and yet this year, Pride will be irrevocably darkened by grief for
lives lost and for how far we have yet to go. I can’t stay silent, because I need
you to understand that every queer or trans person in America has spent
the last week thinking, "that could
have been me.”
As a white, cis person, I have
even more of a responsibility to use the privilege I have to talk about this
event. It is necessary that I recognize the ways in which I have access to safe
spaces that many queer and trans people of color (QTPOC) do not. YWCA Clark
County has been one of those safe spaces for me over the last three years,
which is why I chose to write this article. I encourage those of you reading
this (the majority of whom I know are white, cis, and straight) to use this as
an opportunity to put the allyship we often talk about to good use. I’ve
suggested some strategies for practicing allyship below. Please know I do not
speak for all queer people by any means – but much of this was inspired by the
thoughtful posts my community has written over the last several days.
+ Don’t lean on your LGBTQ
identified friends to help you process this event. No matter who you are, it is
horrifying and incomprehensible. But if you’ve never had to question whether
you are safe holding your partner’s hand as you walk down the street, you
cannot understand the fear that goes along with that horror and outrage.
+ Don’t let people get away with
Islamophobia or xenophobia in their responses to the violence. Islam is not to
blame for the hatred and violence that is rampant in our own country and was
enacted by one of our own citizens.
+ Reach out to the queer and
trans people in your life. Not to talk about what happened (unless they want
to), but to let them know you see them. That you care about them. That they
have your support.
+ Reach out to the Muslim people
in your life. Not to talk about what happened (unless they want to), but to let
them know you see them. That you care about them. That they have your support.
+ Recognize that discriminatory laws (like the bathroom
laws, and others currently being passed around the country) are part of a
spectrum of oppressive systems that make violence like this possible.
+ Speak up. Even if you don’t
think you know anyone who is LGBTQ identified, I’m quite certain you do. And
they will remember who posted something on Facebook, who spoke up in public,
who interrupted an oppressive conversation, and who stayed silent. Especially
for those who remain closeted, your public allyship will mean more than you can
Other people have posted much
more coherent articles than I can put together right now. I highly recommend
this short read, or this great list of concrete
things you can do to help.
I’ll leave you with an excerpt
of a poem I found comforting last night.
From "In Case you Ever Need
It, It Is Here," by Daphne Gottlieb
"...Let your name be
The name of someone who
can do the unthinkable:
Stands up and keeps moving.
You are standing. You are taking
a shower and eating breakfast.
You are going to classes
or going to work. You are doing
impossibly hard things. Keep
and keep going and there
is summer. Laugh even if it is
with rage. Open your mouth
and your fists. Tell the truth.
Tell a friend. Listen to someone
else's heart. It is beating a
miracle. You are
When scars are new,
They shine. Be all the glitter
This month, let's all be all the glitter we need.