Orlando has changed us.
The loss within our community has devastated so many of our peers, community leaders, and the families of the fallen. In a time of progressive victories for the LGBTQ people, this tragedy is a wake-up call to the realities each and everyone of us has the potential to face. Danger has always been a reality for us all - so when random acts of violence occurs in large numbers, it has the ability to put us into a state of fear, anger, and blame.
Let us not feed hate, but instead feed the capacity to love our fellow human beings. For that reason, I ask my LGBTQ brothers, sisters, and otherwise gender-identified members of our community to adopt equal solidarity: let us welcome acceptance, tolerance, and alliance to followers of Islam who are allies to the LGBTQ community.
Similar to the misconceptions we have fought against our entire lives, the same is being done to our Muslim counterparts - whether straight, gay, bi, queer, or beyond.
In a times of our darkest days, let us do what radical extremists of any religion would dislike: give complete love and unity to a community who will receive undue harassment in response to a non-practicing Muslim and his actions. This blame should be regarded towards the individual who committed these atrocities and not to the entire Muslim community.
We are stronger than this fear. That’s the only way forward: engulfing ourselves in community and not letting anyone fall into inescapable rage or aversion. We need time to heal, grieve, and process what happened in Orlando. We need truth, time, and peaceful resolution. These concepts end and start with us, so let’s create the environment we wish to create upon in society.
Inequality comes in new forms every generation and becomes birthed within us systemically - whether through homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia, or the next marginalization of tomorrow. Do not turn the most vulnerable of us into scapegoats, nor let us turn ourselves against each other.
Thus, I ask you: Resist hate.
Thus, I ask you: Resist apathy.
Thus, I ultimately ask you: Resist prejudice.
These are all empty voids meant to close us; trap us. To end what we have accomplished and achieved by turning our backs on our Muslim allies would be a grave injustice. Instead, embrace compassion. Embrace acceptance. Embrace love.
Jae Kanella is a South Florida native, cat parent, and writer. Jae's pronoun preference is they/them/theirs. Jae is 19-years-old and radically queer.