I’ve been sitting here for the last week trying to figure out how to respond to the tragic shooting that occurred in Orlando last Sunday.
As a journalist, specifically a white male journalist, I have a lot of privilege in that my words will often be heard louder than the words of others. I also feel that I have a responsibility to use this privilege to speak up for others whose voices are often hushed by society. I try my best to both avoid controversial topics in my writing, and to only speak from my own experience and perspective, but this is one topic that I feel I cannot simply be silent about.
No matter what opinions people have about the shooting, I desperately hope that very few people can deny that it was a tragedy — the largest shooting massacre in recent American history. Forty-nine individuals lost their lives in an attack on their identity. No matter the race or creed of the attacker, this was an attack based simply in the belief that members of the LGBTQ community were not deserving of life itself. Aggressive homophobia, if we really want to simplify it.
In the days following this attack, my social media feeds have been blowing up. I’ve seen so much support towards the LGBTQ community from both members and allies, and it has lifted some of the weight off of my heart. I’m always so proud to see people come together in the wake of great sadness, and if often helps to ratify at least a small amount of the faith in humanity that I’ve lost. However, I’ve also sadly noticed a certain lack of empathy from many following this tragedy as well.
Despite being a social media editor, it’s been hard for me to spend a lot of time on Facebook this week. I’ve seen so many people on both sides of the gun control argument, along with plenty of other political debates, using this attack as nothing more than fuel to their belief. Don’t get me wrong, everyone has a right to their opinion and it’s sadly often in the wake of heartbreaking events that real change comes about, but there’s a distinct lack of empathy that is often shown when people demonstrate that the pain of others is only useful to defend their point of view. I find it so disheartening when people are ready to share Facebook posts explaining just how important guns should or should not be to them rather than how important an individual life is to someone else.
All I’m hoping for is a little more respect and empathy. I recognize that many of us are jaded to tragedy, but I can assure you that those whose lives have been individually touched by this horrific event are not. Nearly every member of the LGBTQ community that I know feels that their way of life, which has been marginalized for so long, is not only under attack, but that the attack is being used simply as fodder for another debate. It’s the year 2016, and I feel that it’s not too much to ask to show a little humanity.
And to the members of the community itself, I simply want to offer you what I feel everyone should be offering: for you to know that each and every one of you is very loved, supported and valid in how you feel.
Collegian Social Managing Editor Chapman W. Croskell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @Nescwick.