On Sunday, June 12, 2016, I woke up to the news of the Orlando Massacre. I did not want to believe that it actually happened. I did not want to admit that so many LGBTQ lives of color perished in such a horrible way. For days, I did not exactly know how to feel. I was experiencing a whirlwind of emotions including sorrow, sadness, anger, and grief, among others. Being exposed to the media did not help in reconciling my mind and heart. I was overwhelmed with support from loved ones as I kept reminding myself that it could have been me; that I can't always display signs of affection to my love partner in public; that no place is a safe place; and that as a queer person of color, I do have to police my demeanor and behavior in certain environments. Despite my own privileges, I used to be angry and jealous of my cisgender heterosexual counterparts for I could not love like they do. No, I do not want pity! I want support, education, and empowerment. This is a call for all allies to not solely acknowledge your support but own up to what real allyship means. Below are a few suggestions of ways to help.
- "Passivity and silence are just as lethal as pulling the actual trigger" - Congressman Jim Himes - Support can be shown and provided in different shapes and forms such as in policy changes, creating safe/brave spaces, and engaging in open dialogue, among others. Think about how you display your support.
- "Allyship should be a verb" - Cece McDonald - Being an ally doesn't only show up through social media and/or passive conversations. Being an ally should be considered as a behavior. It is not the role of the oppressed to educate others about their struggle and challenges. Use your privilege to enact your allyship toward impacted communities.
- Moment vs. Movement - Being an ally isn't a one time thing. #OrlandoShooting is currently trending and pretty omnipresent all around us. However, true ally ship shows when ubiquitous support is provided and not solely in times of need.
- Intentional outreachy - Contact your close ones you know identify within these marginalized communities.
- Express your feelings - Now is the time to tell people from these marginalized identities that you love them and are here for them.
- Individual processing - Be cognizant of how people grieve, heal, and find empowerment. Some go through faster than others. Everybody reacts differently to certain circumstances. It is important to respect people's individuality; some process better in community, in one-on-one conversations, in praying, in writing, and/or in exercising.
- Know your own limits - Not identifying as part of the impacted communities doesn't mean that you were not affected by the events. Prior to providing any kind of support to others, attend to your own reflections and learning about the events.
- Centering conversations and spaces on QTPOC (Queer Trans People of Color) - Many of the lost lives were the ones of Queer/Trans People of Color, more specifically Latinx and bi/multi-racial ones. Much has already been taken away from these communities. It is important to mention (not omit/discard) these identities when talking about pressed LGBTQ communities.
- Don't over-occupy space - This is not your time. Enact these active listening and empathy skills because now is the time to listen to QTPOC narratives and voices
- Stay focused on the real issues - Don't get distracted by the media and others full of hatred. Stay focused on what really happened: "a horrible act of murder fueled by a mix of LGBTQIA+ hate and unregulated gun use, both of which run rampant in American culture." - Everyday Feminism.
- It's not just Pulse - While the attention is and should be on Pulse, remember that queer nightclubs/bars and other identified sanctuaries for the LGBTQ communities are also at risk. Imagine not having a safe haven to go to and be yourself. This is how many of the QTPOC communities feel like.
- Politicizing #OrlandoShooting - We cannot avoid the politicizing of this event. The oppression of QTPOC has been politicized for over several decades. However, you can be intentional about how you engage in politics. Do not engage in hate-based political rhetoric that often tries to create a context and “excuse” for hatred, discrimination, violence and cold blooded murder. Instead, advocate for policy changes that will make QTPOC and other marginalized populations feel safe.
- Donate Blood - Although cisgender gay men aren't the sole constituents of the queer/trans communities, they are forbidden to donating blood. Support the victims by considering donating blood.
- Support fundraising initiatives - There are several gofundme account that are supporting the victims of the shooting and the impacted nightclub, Pulse. If able, please support the these initiatives.
This is a reminder that oppression of LGBTQ communities started decades ago with the Stonewall riots to the multiple suicides of queer and trans lives (especially those of color). To all my folks identifying with the sexual and gender minority, know that I love you and that our journey to a liberation will not be without challenge. However, as a collective, we can support, heal, be in solidarity, and empower each other.
Mark Chung Kwan Fan (He/Him)
ACPA Coalition for LGBT Awareness
Vice Chair for Administration