As we read the accounts and witness the aftermath of the heinous acts of bigotry and hatred that occurred at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, we must be very clear in knowing that this country will be impacted for many years to come. This attack was specifically targeted at the LGBT community. Lives were callously taken or forever changed as they were gathering in what was believed to be a safe space, where people can convene in solidarity and share pride in their community
Adding to the heartbreak, and undeniable fear, we feel about these events, was the arrest outside of West Hollywood of a person whose car was filled with weapons to specifically hurt and kill LGBT people. This is another horrible reminder of how some in the world see our community, even in this day and age.
As the Executive Director and CEO of The Trevor Project, the only national accredited crisis intervention and suicide prevention organization serving LGBTQ youth, I know first-hand about the struggles of LGBTQ young people. Every minute, every day young people reach out to us because they feel alone, misunderstood and vulnerable. How can we reassure them that everything is ok, when all around them, they continue to hear messages of hate and intolerance? Our youth see and feel that we are currently in a struggle to fight for rights and opportunities that seem so basic—the right to use the bathroom of your gender. The right to receive adequate mental health services. And now the freedom to be with your community for a night of relaxation and socializing, without fear.
These blatant acts of violence against the LGBT community send horrible messages of hate to young people. In a time that seems like much progress has been made in the LGBTQ community, The Trevor Project is very aware of the challenges young people still face in being their true selves. They are already being barraged by rhetoric from homophobic and transphobic politicians and laws being presented in states throughout our nation and now they have a visual representation of what hatred can do. It is our job as an organization and our job as a people to protect our youth. To protect our future. Young people need resources to properly process the challenges they are facing on a minute-by-minute basis. They need all of our help. We need to stand up, unite, and continue the fight.
While watching the response today, I am heartened and hope our young people are as well. There is a unified outrage from so many segments of the world’s population, not only the LGBT community. This mass killing, the worst mass shooting in United States history, is being reported on everywhere, including every major news outlet. Outrage is coming from so many, starting at the top with the President calling it what it is — an act of violence against the LGBT community, and he will not stand for it.
We at The Trevor Project know one person can make a difference and today we are seeing so many people saying NO MORE. Reach out to The Trevor Project, you are not alone. We are here 24/7 at 866-488-7386 and thetrevorproject.org.
Executive Director and CEO, The Trevor Project