Tagline: Until the Work Is Done
Bravery, love and coming together
June 14, 2016 at 8:16 pm

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The horrific tragedy in Orlando hit us close to home. Among the first people shot in the Pulse night club in Orlando was Laura, the cousin of Equality California board member and straight ally Mark Vargas. Laura was celebrating the personal success of one of her best friends who was with her. She is in critical condition in the hospital in Orlando. Mark is with her but has not had the heart yet to tell Laura that her friend was among the 49 members of our community who did not survive. It is difficult to make sense of this horrific act of violence and its very personal human toll. Our hearts are heavy as we are getting to know those taken from us and those injured and as we grieve for their friends, families and the entire LGBT community.
As we learn more about the worst mass shooting in American history, it is clear that the event in Orlando was an act of hate. That the LGBT community was targeted is a chilling reminder of how much work we have left to do to achieve full equality, acceptance and respect. Our community has suffered one of the worst tragedies in its history. This occurred against a backdrop of the introduction of more than 200 anti-LGBT bills sweeping legislatures across the country, attempting to roll back our hard-won civil rights victories. Through all of this, I take strength seeing and hearing about the many ways our community has come together, about the reports of bravery and heroism in Orlando, and about the acts of love and kindness sweeping our nation and the world.
The LGBT civil rights movement has been built on individual and collective acts of bravery. The gay man who comes out to his parents not knowing what their reaction will be. The transgender woman who shows up to work every day throughout her transition. The student who faces ridicule and ostracism in school because she is honest about whom she loves. The straight coworker who objects to homophobic jokes about his friend in the office.
Acts of hate and violence are attempts to instill fear, pull us apart and set us back. But our movement has always been about coming together as a community and coming out bravely as individuals to fight for our civil rights and the basic dignity that all people deserve. We know in our hearts that our response should never be to give in, but to continue to live open and authentic lives and to continue to come together with our allies to advocate for full acceptance, respect and equality.
As we look ahead, we will rededicate ourselves to defeat the hatred that led to these violent acts and to work to end the epidemic of gun violence that endangers LGBT lives every day. We will renew our commitment to ensure that every member of our community can live openly, authentically and safely. And we will always remember the victims of Orlando and dedicate the work ahead to them.
To support the victims and their families, please go to gofundme.com/pulsevictimsfund.
In solidarity,

Rick Zbur
Executive Director

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