On Sunday morning, the unthinkable happened… again. A gunman armed with legally acquired assault weapons opened fire on a crowded dance floor in a gay bar in Orlando, Florida. He shot more than 100 people, killing 49, leaving more than 50 with serious physical injuries and the larger community with profound wounds in need of healing as well.
Sadly, violence, murder, intimidation and oppression pervade every country where we work – including the United States. Each instance stands alone in its particulars, but all share tremendous loss, aching hearts and enraging injustice.
Today, our hearts break for all the communities of Orlando – the LGBT community, the Latino community, the people of faith, the families and friends. All the strands of a community woven together to celebrate life with pride.
Today our hearts break for loved ones left to sit with an empty chair, unfulfilled plans of young people, the choking pain that sweeps up at any moment and finds no comfort.
Today our hearts break for the burden we must carry because of our inactions and inability to stop the driving forces behind such brutal killings. Hatred. Fear. Fundamental self-righteousness (and here I speak of many kinds, not just the shooter). Inequality. Policies that dispense more guns more readily than diplomas.
Today our hearts break remembering the trauma we have endured in the United States – from Orlando to Charleston, Oklahoma City to Boston, Columbine to Newtown, from dance clubs to elementary schools to abortion clinics to military bases to theaters to churches to streets.
Today our hearts break remembering those terrorized by hired guns in Brazil, by paramilitary forces in Honduras, by military bombs in Gaza. We have lost so many beautiful souls to hatred and greed, to inequality and apathy, too often fueled by leaders who create conditions for violence.
For those of us who are part of the rainbow of queer diversity, the attack during Pride Week seemed aimed to incite terror, to rush us back into a closet and away from our movement forward.
Because today our heart breaks but our spirit does not falter. Love is the only thing that can cast out hatred, and we choose to love one another, to love life and liberty, to love beyond our borders and to love beyond the small box that no longer can hold us.
Today we welcome the letters of solidarity pouring in from those around the globe committed to human dignity, freedom and equality, who refuse to be intimidated by violence and threats in their homelands and send notes of courage to their US brothers and sisters.
Today we remain committed to protecting the full dignity and human rights of all people, refusing to bite the bait of those inciting fear and violence, particularly against Muslims and immigrants.
Today we send love to the families who will never be the same, to the community left to absorb the losses well after the media trucks have gone away. From those of us in Boston, who have felt the searing burn of loss, we can say our community stands strong with memories and with hope. Orlando Strong and Beautiful will as well.