By Christina Galdi
Most summer vacations leave behind a sense of fondness and happiness. However, for the people who attended Pulse Nightclub- a popular gay club in Orlando, Florida, this summer was filled with bloodshed, loss and grieving.
On June 12, in the early hours of the morning, gunfire ripped through the nightclub. A gunman opened fire, killing 49 people and injuring 53. It was the deadliest attack on LGBTQ individuals in U.S. history, the deadliest mass shooting by a single person and the deadliest terrorist attack since September 11.
The individual responsible for the shooting was said to have claimed his alliance with the Islamic State, further validating the notion that this was a terrorist attack. Not only that, but it was also a hate crime to the highest degree.
The shooter specifically targeted a popular gay nightclub, and unleashed terror on these people simply for being themselves.
While our country has legalized same-sex marriage, we sadly lack many anti-discrimination laws, further proving that this country doesn’t prioritize the safety of its LGBTQ citizens, as well as other minority groups. But it’s clear that LGBTQ individuals are a marginalized group who are at risk for ridicule, judgment and harassment every day.
The one shining light that came from this heinous crime is that it created a nationwide conversation about LGBTQ rights and stricter gun laws. Memorials and tributes were held throughout the country for those who were murdered. Advocates, celebrities and politicians were demanding for stricter gun laws and to close the loopholes in existing laws. For once, our country was more united than divided on these issues.
Most importantly, the LGBTQ community stuck together and other people began advocating for LGBTQ rights and acceptance on social media as well.
KU held a candlelight vigil to remember those who were killed. For the LGBTQ students of the university, this memorial was an amazing way to show support. It is important to emphasize that the university is accepting and inclusive of all students, regardless of sexuality or gender identity.
Jose Valentine, KU student, said, “It was amazing to see faculty and students come together to mourn the loss of 49 people. It helped bring the community back together after this tragedy.”
While our country is currently gridlocked on how to handle gun reform and in denial about its acceptance and tolerance of LGBTQ individuals, tragedies like this bring people from all walks of life together.
More people are speaking up about tolerance for LGBTQ individuals and calling for gun reform, leaving those with a narrow mind and firm grip on the Second Amendment in the minority. Maybe this is a sign that our country is progressing and moving toward a safer and more inclusive future.