The biggest massacre in U.S. history wasn’t about gays.

I woke up today thinking about the 50.

The 50 who, just two days ago, had lives cut short on a night unexpected. The 50 who never came home, never responded to that last text, never got to say that one last thing. The 50 who have families and friends and loved ones who are waking up today with a hole carved into their lives–one that will always be there.

50 souls.

And as I watch the country grieve I see rainbows on profile photos and gay slogans and anti-religion propaganda because the biggest massacre in our country’s history was at a gay night club, The Pulse. I understand the sentiment. I understand the rainbows. But the thing we need to understand a little bit better is that it has nothing to do with gay or straight, religious or non-religious, male or female, white or non-white.

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It has everything to do with hate.

We distract ourselves–and the media distracts us as well–with the reasons behind why triggers are pulled or knives or wielded or bombs go off. “It must be because they were black”, we say. “It must be because he was transgender”. “It was a gay nightclub, that’s why”. “Maybe it’s because he was Muslim”.

And while many of those reasons are valid and might even be a surface reason to why atrocities happen, we owe it to ourselves to look up and see things for what they really are.

Hate is real. It lives and it breathes and it seeks to harm and to destroy and to cast blame. Hate is what finds a reason to kill. Hate is what can be bred into our children from a young age and what festers and grows over weeks or months or years. Hate is pride. Hate is a learned trait.

But yet, so is love.

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Those 50 don’t deserve a gay pride flag. They weren’t just “gays gunned down” at a club. They were children of God. They were precious souls with jobs, loved ones, parents, futures and children and memories to make. They were human lives who had to stare down a barrel of a gun aimed at them simply because the one who pulled the trigger was taught hate instead of love somewhere along the line. They were the repercussion of someone’s inability to see the worth of all souls is great.

And America, THAT is our real problem.

We can preach about gun control. We can enact more gay and transgender rights. We can protest in the streets and sign bills or petitions. We can yell and fight and get angry at each other. We can categorize ourselves by “liberal” or “conservative” and draw our lines in the sand.


Or we can recognize the poison just beneath the roots, the poison that is creeping into minds and hearts and seizing control of our young people. We can work together, free of affiliations, to make it stop. But how do we stop it?

That’s the big question.

I don’t think we’ll ever be able to take a mass issue and solve it over night. There will still be massacres. There will still be children who die and hate crimes and suicides caused from bullying. But we can start where we’re at. We can foster and nurture love into our children and into those we have influence over.

We can recognize people for who they are–children of a perfect God–instead of who or what they associate with while on earth. We can make friends with the lonely and redirect the lost. We can write or sing or use our other passions to touch the hearts of those who need it. We can BE love.

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Even decades after Martin Luther King Jr., we still have black teens gunned down in senseless acts of violence and people burning crosses in front lawns. But yet we also have children of different races playing in the streets, a black president, bi-racial couples, and black CEOs and entrepreneurs. We have made leaps and bounds and it started with a simple voice. It started with love.

It seems like the most cliche topic ever spoken about and perhaps that’s the reason our society steers away from it now. Instead of going out in search after the one who’s gone astray we build fences to keep it from coming back in. We build walls to keep ourselves safe and stand in fear at the feet of congress asking them to do whatever it takes to protect us from the “bad people”. We perpetuate the real problem by not actively striving to be the real solution. We cower in fear.

Ghandi once powerfully said, “As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world–that is the myth of the atomic age–as in being able to remake ourselves.”

These things will happen–we will lose 50 people at a nightclub or a young singer will be shot outside her concert venue; we will see schools gunned down or families massacred in their homes. These things will happen but we CANNOT become calloused. We cannot explain away reasons or get up in arms with the means to which the act was carried out. We need to recognize it for what it is, and try a little harder to be a little better in a world that is without fail crumbling every day around us.

“Take heart,” the Savior said, “For I have overcome the world.”

We must not forget that. We must overcome.

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I love the lost 50. Gay or straight, black or white, male or female, old or young. They are brothers and sisters who were victims of a plague that attacks the heart–and nothing else.

There is nothing more to fight about. Nothing more to wave flags about or protest. Nothing matters except for the fact that we are warriors in a battle that consists of fighting evil every day by being one more piece of light that can overcome it. Yes, you may be on a very small scale. So am I. You’re literally one out of billions.

But it’s just the pull of one moon that creates a thousand waves.

Never let someone tell you that a couple people with love and grace and compassion in their hearts can’t completely change this world.

Because through the course of history, that’s all who ever have.

154 thoughts on “The biggest massacre in U.S. history wasn’t about gays.

  1. This made me cry! So beautifully written and so true. The best response I’ve seen to this tragedy. Thank you.

  2. Except they were killed because they were gay or the shooter thought they were. You can’t just say it was about hate to relieve yourself from acknowledging the discrimination and hardship that lgbt people face everyday. He attacked a gay club, the one place in this world where lgbtq people should be free from stigma and judgment. Yes, hate and violence affect everyone, but some groups more so than others. Pretending we are equally at risk of hateful violence ignores the painful reality that people of color, lgbtq people, and ethno-religious minorites face every day. To put it simply, a straight person never has to worry that a kiss to their spouse or romantic partner in public could lead to a violent attack.

    1. I think her point is that there is hate of all kinds, all over the world. This was not the largest massacre in US history. Wounded Knee was larger, Big Hole was larger, Mountain Meadows was larger. If you make this just about gays, or just about guns, then you are failing to get to root-cause, and you won’t change anything.

      1. If you don’t acknowledge that this was an attack on the lgbt community then you are marginalizing the violence perpetrated against lgbt people everyday. People are bullied, assaulted, raped and even murdered just for being gay or trans. To just say this was just senseless hate is incredibly insulting to the memory of those who lost their lives. This wasn’t just a random mass killing, it was a targeted murder of gay people, so yes it is about gays. Sorry if that doesn’t support your agenda, but yes lgbt people are still a persecuted minority, especially in the developing world, but even here in America too.

      2. S.L. it isn’t about marginalizing, it is about seeing the bigger picture. That you continue to make it just about gays, indicates that you are feeding into that hate. By doing so, you allow it to grow. “Just a random mass killing”. That statement alone really says it. The problem is so much bigger than you realize, or are willing to admit. Root cause, SL. root cause. Hacking at the branches just spreads it.

      3. I’m going to cheat and steal from someone who is a much better writer than me

        “But by ignoring the LGBT context you’re robbing the victims – and the whole LGBT community – of an identity that they are forced to reassert and fight for time and time again, struggling against discrimination, much of which is still, appallingly, backed by law.

        You’re also brushing homophobia under the carpet, pretending that we live in some sort of utopian, post-bigotry world…..
        His own father has stated that he believes that homophobia, not religion, was Mateen’s real motivation.

        Media outlets who are ignoring the homophobic aspect of the crime are instead focusing exclusively on the religion of the American-born Mateen, and his pledge of allegiance to ISIS in a 911 call during the attack.
        This warps the shooter’s motivation, turns it from a homophobic attack to a religiously-motivated one, which is less than half of the story. It only serves to boost the agenda of Republican politicians (we’re looking at you, Trump) who use this attack to justify their anti-Muslim agenda while still voting against gay marriage.

        Mateen was a Muslim, but he was also American, born and raised, exposed to the rhetoric of US politicians and media, much of which remains alarmingly homophobic.

        If we call this an ISIS attack on humanity, then we’re letting homophobia off the hook. We’re saying that the attack happened in a vacuum, that it had nothing to do with a society where LGBT people can still legally be discriminated against, and where education on LGBT matters is still shamefully scant. ”

        Read more:

      4. The root cause is hate, but it is hate against people who are LGBTQ. But the hate did not start with the shooter – it starts with believing that everyone is equal and on the same footing – we’re not. Because of my privileges as a heterosexual person, I don’t have to worry that I’ll be passed up for job promotions because others may not agree with my sexuality. I am never afraid to show affection to my spouse in public. When I was a teenager I didn’t have to worry that my parents or church might turn away from me because of who I fell in love with. When I was planning for my wedding, the thought never crossed my mind that someone might refuse to make my wedding cake because the cake maker did not agree with whom I would be spending my wedding night. I don’t have to think about my sexuality at all.

        It starts with our political institutions that do not grant people who are LGBTQ the same rights and protections as other human beings. It starts with our religious institutions that are influential in our policy-making processes that do not grant people who are LGBTQ the same rights and protections as other human beings, and are influential in shaping our individual beliefs about what is right and what is wrong.

        It starts with us.

      5. I understand what you are saying. There are groups in which are targeted and subjected to horrible crimes. But I agree with the article because if we could just accept each other and the paths we that are ours (with some exclusions, people who harm others intentionally ) and love and accept each other, none of this would have happened. By the way, you forgot to include 50% of the population that has been subjected to this hate openly or behind doors for centuries. I don’t think this was written with the intention of offending. I think the writer feels what the root of all evil is. Hate. A hate that drives itselfs to cause enormous harm and sorrow. A hate that causes someone to hurt others. A hate that judges others based on their race, sexuality, religion or sex.

      6. And you still aren’t seeing it. You think that trying to see the bigger picture somehow takes away from the LGBT aspect. It doesn’t. You talk about marginalization, but to listen to you it seem you marginalize the plight of so many others who also experience, or experienced hate, Has any governor passed a LGBT extermination act? Have LGBT been herded en masse to camps, branded and gassed? Or in our time, have they been imprisoned in groups, stripped naked, had menstrual blood wiped on their faces? Or have entire groups been herded to stadiums, and grandson forced to rape their grandmothers in front of everyone at gunpoint? There is plenty of hate to go around, and it all needs to be dealt with, and unless/until you can get past your own specific flavor of hate, you actually are only helping it grow. But by all means, you hold tight to the little spark of indignation you have. And one day you and I can watch the world burn together.

    2. Thank God someone pointed this out.
      This kind of erasure is violence, not seeing the why (hint that they were gay) is not seeing why they aren’t loved and a target of hate, which is actually not a shocker coming from a Mormon.

      A friend of mine wrote this on his page. I want to share it here. Dear Family and Friends-

      Thank you for your thoughts, love, and concern on my behalf and on the behalf of the LGBTQIA+ community- my community. I mean that sincerely- you may never know the power your love can have in saving a life.

      Likely because so many of you are devout, faithful Christians, one of the most common expressions I have heard repeated over the past 24 hours is “you are in my prayers.” Indeed, given the important role God and religion play in the lives of much of the country, it is both gratifying and unsurprising that ‪#‎PrayForOrlando‬ has so quickly and so fully captured the world of social media. While I recognize the love and concern that backs this movement, I would ask that you indulge me in asking a few sincere questions that arise in my mind when I hear this:

      Are these prayers for me and for Orlando being offered up to the same God I was taught would take away my sinful and unnatural feelings if I prayed hard enough and loved God fully enough?

      Are these prayers being offered up to the same God who was called upon repeatedly to protect the United States from the moral decay and perversion of the gay agenda and gay marriage? The same God now being called upon to spare Mexico and countless other nations throughout the world from the same wicked fate?

      As these prayers ascend to heaven, do they mingle with prayers for God to do ‘whatever it takes’ to spare my soul and ‘save me from myself?’

      Do they fall on the ears of the same God whose inspired leaders teach me and my children that church discipline MAY be necessary for ‘attempted murder, forcible rape, and sexual abuse…’, but is MANDATORY for individuals in a same-gender marriage?

      Are they prayers to the same God who, ‘out of love’, requires children living more than half of the time with a ‘practicing’ gay parent to wait until they are 18, have moved out of their gay parents’ house, and disavow their gay parents’ relationship to receive a name, blessing, baptism, confirmation, the priesthood, a mission call, etc?

      Will your prayers meet the echoes of the prayers I offered in the past to ‘take me from this earth’ to spare myself and those I love additional pain due to my ‘perversion’?

      Do they meet the prayers offered by grieving loved ones whose child, sibling, or parent sought, in some twisted and backward way, to reduce the pain inflicted upon others by their existence?

      Are they heard by a God that condones violence towards LGBTQIA+ individuals? Reparative therapy? Electroshock therapy? Rejection in the interest of protecting other family members from evil influences?

      What precisely do those prayers consist of?

      What is your belief regarding the fate of the victims’ souls who’s lives were taken in yesterday’s massacre? Do you pray that their loved ones will find peace and comfort in coming to those same conclusions? That God is mindful of them in that way?

      Again, I offer my sincere thanks and gratitude for your love and concern; however, I ask that you recognize and appreciate why I am a bit wary of your prayers and of how your God may choose to answer them.

      A far greater source of peace, comfort, and hope to me are your thoughts and your actions- but (forgive and have patience with me if you still have it in you) allow me to qualify that. Fleeting thoughts- too weak to drive action, growth, or change- will feel like a reflection of that love you hold for me, weak, fleeting, and a thing of convenience- perhaps better not to draw attention to it in the first place. Yes, please, keep me and the LGBTQIA+ community in your thoughts. Think about our experiences (ask, research, and learn about them first). We are an incredibly diverse community- don’t limit yourself to just my experience and perspective. Talk to a transgender individual. Talk to a married gay couple who still hopes to raise their children in the Church. Ask the antagonistic apostate for their experience and perspective. Hear their stories. Don’t tell them why their feelings or interpretations of events are incorrect. Let your thoughts drive action. Stand up for your LGBTQIA+ peers. Stand up for their legal rights, for their dignity, for their right to decide for themselves the path they will pursue. Fight for them when your children are watching. Fight for them when your congregation is watching. Fight for them when no one is watching. Fight for the closeted child who is watching and judging their value and worth and measuring your love for them. Raise your voice in clear opposition when pastors or politicians speak of ‘Gays deserving death’, ‘God hating fags’, discrimination being a ‘religious freedom’. More importantly, and far more challenging, look within yourself and your OWN faith community/political party etc. and ask what things may be changed and improved. Your beliefs, your leaders, your faith are important and sacred to you- I know this. I don’t ask that you give them up, but I do ask that you examine them from an outside perspective and recognize that validity and authenticity of that perspective as much as your own. Be willing to entertain the idea that people- no matter how good they are, are still fallible- that traditions, cultures, and societal norms may at times play an undue and erroneous role in revelation and interpretation. No, it’s not easy (and I don’t claim to be very good at it myself yet), but until we get better at it, hope for the future is hard to muster at the moment.

      1. This could easily have been written by my son, whose heart is full of love and concern for others, who is trying to find acceptance from all. Love is more powerful than hate. Let us all help those around us feel our love for them regardless of their differences with us. Look for what we have in common and grow from there.

    3. S.L. You voiced my thoughts exactly. I appreciate the sentiment behind the author’s words and, yes, all of us can and should try harder to spread and teach love. However, this man targeted a specific group out of fear and hate. As you said, to say otherwise is to marginalize the uphill battle the LGBT+ face on a daily basis.

    4. Amen. This erases the extra layers of fear and discrimination that certain marginalized groups live with every day. There is so much privilege in this post.

    5. This. All-day this. I can’t stand people trying to divorce it from LGBTQ rights.

      I’m also a little sick of seeing my homophobic Mormon friends posting this everywhere as if this shows their love for the LGBTQ community. Where was your love before this that could have prevented all of this?

    6. But the killer was gay himself. He was a regular visitor of that very club. He was full of hate and when you’re in that mindset, logic does not exist.

    7. YES! i am so glad someone pointed this out. It WAS a hate crime with a target. It MATTERS that they were homosexual. It MATTERS that they face greater forces of discrimination than I, a straight white male, do on a normal day! Passive “love” does not enact great change by any means. It requires an aggressive ( but not violent) backing; people willing to stand up for the love they have for their fellow humans. This article just shows the heavy naivety of the author and a negligent attitude.

    8. It’s a horrible tragedy, it can’t be taken back. But I think maybe you missed the point. There are many targets of prejudice…….what about innocent Christians that have been beheaded. What about the ones being crucified? It’s about HATE. It’s all about hate. Hoe do we override hate ? We do it by loving. By parents teaching the smallest of children that we are all children of a loving, merciful God, and we are all so special in our unique way in His eyes. We have to model love and gentlness. Love on a grand scale, one heart at a time, is the only way out of this. Let it begin with you. No “yeah, buts….” just begin with love. It really is that easy.

    9. I keep thinking about this, And I think the difference we are experiencing is perspective. You see this piece as marginalizing LGBTQ, and the difficulties they face, you see it as trying to remove or ignore that aspect. I see it as trying to go broader to the greater issue. I see it as trying to engage those who might choose to sit on the sidelines because “Gay” makes them uncomfortable, or worse because they view this event at least partly as the “will of a righteous god against sinners” – she is trying to remind them what the saviors view would really be – how god really feels about his children.

      Perhaps we are both wrong. Perhaps she crafted this article the way she did for the express purpose of getting arguments like this going, because hey, more hits equals more profit.

      Anyhow, the result of our different perspectives is that we are probably mostly talking past each other, rather than too each other. I apologize for my part in that. and for any hard feeling my words might have caused.

      But let me also suggest there is something to be said for trying to see things in the better light – even if that is not how the author truly intended it to be seen.

      Here are a couple posts on my (non-profit) blog, which might help explain what I mean, if you should feel inclined to take the time.

      1. Thanks Edwin. You are correct about why I wrote this piece. It wasn’t to diminish pain or to erase the struggles of a certain group of people. It was to speak about the core reason why intolerance and these horrible acts happen. And that is hate.

  3. I’m guessing my comment here will be deleted, but I will go ahead and write it anyway. I don’t doubt that you mean well, but I found this article incredibly offensive. I suspect you would not have written the same article if 50 Mormons had been targeted and gunned down at a church gathering.

    1. Wow! You are really gonna make this about Mormons? Why do you hate Mormons so much that you would try to turn the conversation to that?

      1. I am an active Mormon raising 4 children in the gospel. I do not hate Mormons. I do very much dislike bloggers who think they should, the day after a tragedy, capitalize on it and explain to everyone else what it really was about. This article is not about the victims of this tragedy it is about a blogger trying to teach us all something,

      2. Because you are Mormon doesn’t change the fact that you made this about Mormons. The author is attempting to expand the conversation the overarching evil, she is trying to reach for the utopian solution – a fundamental shift in the way we think about humanity, and you have chosen instead to see it as petty and tribal and insular (okay, perhaps I am as guilty as you of putting words in the author’s mouth, but maybe, just maybe she isn’t as selfish as you portray her. Maybe, just maybe you could give her the benefit of the doubt, or at least try to keep the conversation positive.).

    2. First off it was 49 innocent souls. The 50th death was the gunmans. So to be fair I think we should refer to the number of lost souls at that hands this mass murderer as 49.
      To answer your comment; If it were 50 Mormons or any other religion the article would still apply. Hate is the root cause of why this happened. You can’t deny that. It was Hate for the LBGT community. Next time it will be Hate for another community. Until we address Hate-the cycle will repeat it’s self.

  4. Just for clarification (and you might want to update your post if you can)–
    there were 49 victims— the 50th one was the perpetrator, the one who killed them all.

  5. I have been really struggling since I head of the shooting. I have felt fear, and anxiety, and have played the what if game. I have grieved for the families of the 50 lost in that club. I read your post and finally was able to cry. I’ve been tearing up right and left but was always overcome with an inability to explain the feelings I was having. Thank you for putting them into words, and so beautifully too. I needed it. Our country needs it. “Abide with me, ’tis eventide” plays in my head for comfort tonight.

  6. I have such mixed feelings about your blog post.

    I think the heart of your message, that hate is to blame, is accurate. We must not become calloused. I think you are spot on in declaring that the labels that we use can be distancing, that they can disconnect us from others, and will only serve to perpetuate this type of violence. When we “other” people, when we make them different from us, we cannot love them as Christ would have us do. And that love will change the world.

    And, absolutely, the victims were more than just their sexual orientation, they were people. Seeing them as our loved ones, not as “them” is super important.

    But I cannot agree with you that this has nothing to do with gay or straight. Doing so erases a critical aspect of the victims’ lives. Yes, only one aspect, but it’s still a pretty big one.

    One of my friends, who is lesbian, said, in reflecting on this massacre, that she regularly scans crowds to estimate how safe she might be. As a woman I have a certain fear of parking lots after dark, but never do I worry, in my white, heterosexual, suburban mom life, that I will be unsafe in a crowd. Nobody has made my bathroom preference a matter of political debate and nobody says anything to me about my choice of marriage partners. However, these concerns have a profound effect on my friends and family who are LGBT in their day-to-day lives, as I understand from listening to them.

    When I am with my single friends, I look for ways to connect with them that have nothing to do with talking about the joys and frustrations of my marriage. The same with my childless friends–while I don’t shy away from talking about parenting issues that are real in my life, I also look for other things that can draw us together. Even with my friends who parent a special needs child about which I know so little first-hand, we find ways to honor common ground.

    Similarly, with my LGBT friends and family, we talk about work, or partnership stressors, or house projects. As you say, they are more than just their gender identity or orientation.

    But I don’t ignore the infertility issues of my childless friend. I don’t pretend that my single friend has no frustrations in the dating world. I pay attention when that mom friend of mine talks about the ways l that raising a child on the autism spectrum pretty much consumes her day-to-day existence.

    And similarly, when my lesbian cousin talks to me about the pain of alienating her in-laws when she and her partner got married, I can’t pretend that this isn’t very much a part of her story–a part that requires me just to sit and listen, to offer up a shoulder to cry on if she needs it, to give her a message that she won’t alienate me with her marriage.

    If we ignore that this shooting profoundly, directly or indirectly, affects our oft-targeted LGBT population, we are ignoring a powerful way to extend Christ’s love to those who need it. That is, to give those who suffer a very real chance to be seen for the whole of who they are–someone who has to get up and go to work tomorrow, someone who has to get groceries for their aging mom, and someone who now has yet one more reason to fear holding his lover’s hand while they walk down the street.

    As I see it, that step, that seeing each other for what we are, is the first we must take in order to tear down the hate of which you so passionately plea for us to do.

  7. Not seeing and acknowledging the victims for who they were is erasure. You erased who they were and why they were killed. The very reason they were at the club – bc our culture has made it unsafe for them to unapologetically love and celebrate their identities as LGTBQ+ people of color.

    Hate crimes are about hate – but you can’t make it generic – Homophobia, Islamophobia, etc. these have to be rooted out individually.

    This sure is a nice way to make yourself feel better about what happened though.

  8. This was well-written, and very… gallant? Emotional. Well-meaning. Heart felt. And utterly hurtful to those of us who belong to the community you are erasing with your powerful words. Years ago, my dad told a story about a hispanic co-worker who announced that she was going to be a grandmother. The boss asked, “They’re not going to name her Rosa or Maria or anything like that, are they?” To which my dad’s co-worker replied, “What’s wrong with names like Rosa and Maria?” When I read, “They don’t need a rainbow flag,” my gut response was, “What’s wrong with a rainbow flag?” And my next thought was, “…and how could you presume to know anything about what ‘they’ (I) need?” Tonight I attendee a candlelight vigil and I needed the flags, the rainbows, the clinging to a community–my community– that understands what you, well-meaning as your sentiments may be, cannot…. That we are not “they” and “them” to each other and no one who calls us by those pronouns can actually presume to speak for us. Someone attacked “us.” Yes, hate was one of the reasons, and yes, love would be a cure. But erasing the feelimgs and experiences of an entire group of people (the LGBTQIA people who were targeted, injured, and killed), presuming to speak for them (us), suggesting that this was not about them (us)… is violence. I can’t begin to know why you might feel the need to take the “gay” out of this, but if you really believe in making a difference with Love, then maybe start there. What is wrong with the rainbow flag? Why shouldn’t someone need that? A symbol of community. The community that lost 50 souls. Why is it not okay to say that this was/is about being gay? What is it that is so untenable that you can’t touch it, have to change and redefine it? Start there, and you will change the world.

    1. THIS. Thank you immensely for this, SM. Your reply is not only eloquently phrased, but also strikingly true.

      Erasure of LGBTQ+ identities has a long and violent history–it does not need to be happening right after a devastating massacre.

  9. Please don’t erase the identities of these people. They were killed for the single reason that they were members of the lgbtq community. The shooter saw 2 men kissing outside of the venue weeks earlier and it made him so angry that he thought he needed to massacre them BECAUSE THEY WERE GAY. I get your point, but being lgbtq was most likely a very important part of these victims’ identities. They wouldn’t want you to erase that. Their parents wouldn’t want you to erase that. I’m asking you to please not erase that. Yes the shooter was motivated by hate your right, but it was hatered towards the lgbtq community and that’s very important. We can’t move forward without acknowleging this key factor. I’m not trying to attack you, only to ask you to not erase the identity of the victims. An identity which they were horribly murdered for.

  10. You put into words exactly what I was feeling and struggling to find a way to express. Yes, this was a complete tragedy that happened to take place in a gay club. But, this issue is broader than that, we need to not loose sight of the fact this was an attack on human life, and the American way of life, that resulted from HATE for who we are, and what we stand for, and freedoms we enjoy. We need to be careful to not boil this issue down to the view of “oh, it only effected the gay community.” This tragedy happened to all of us, as a people and as a nation. As a Christian, I hope the blessing that will come out of this is unity, true unity, and bring as to a place ” where the world will live as ONE” (John Lennon).

  11. I understand that you are attempting to humanize a group of people to an audience that largely speaks disparagingly of LGBTQ persons and their “lifestyle,” but really, this is what erasure looks like. These 50 people were killed because of where they were and because of who they were. They deserve their personhood to be honoured and they, themselves, embraced and celebrated their sexual identities. We only further marginalize amd perpetuate violence against them as we erase a key part of their identity

  12. I understand that you are coming from a good place with this, and I appreciate it. I really do. But if you think about this approach–saying that the shooting wasn’t about gay people, and they don’t deserve a Pride flag on their coffin–from the perspective of the dead, and those now living in fear, it is a grave insult and a disfavor. These people are dead because of who they loved, and we all need to see that for the hideous fact that it is. We need to stop the words that are making people like the shooter think that this is an acceptable response to their fear and distaste. This *was* about gays (and lesbians, bisexuals, pansexuals, transgender, and queer individuals of every sort, remembering that “gay” only refers to men). I understand you are trying to feel and encourage sympathy in a way allowed by religious beliefs that state there was something very wrong with the humans now dead. But please understand that to those who remain living and in danger, your words are another wound.

  13. I’m at a loss as to why we can’t both see them as gay *and* as children of God. Erasing their collective experience and identity doesn’t seem necessary and even seems hurtful. This was an attack on the gay community, and hopefully we can recognize that an attack on the gay community is *also* an attack on children of God.

  14. Way to make this all about yourselves. Congratulations on being so self centered. Seriously.

    And I say this as a straight, white, christian.

  15. The backlash this article is receiving is justified.
    It is evident the author is attempting to be sincere and loving. But it is stifled by narrow perspective and ignoring an already marginalized group of people for the authors own agenda to sound loving, accepting, and for what happened into their own religious narrative.
    Look at the facts … This was a heinous act that targeted children of God BECAUSE they were LGBTQ, BECAUSE the perpetrator interpreted his religious doctrine to mean there was something wrong/evil with these people.

    Our brothers and sisters who lost their lives DESERVE a flag that represents them at half mass – whether it’s a rainbow flag, an American flag, or a state flag. Who are you, Author, to decide what they need or want or deserve !?

  16. I don’t think it’s right for a person in the mainstream American majority to co-opt this tragedy by saying it’s an attack on all of us. This was a specific targeted attack on the lgbt community and should be recognized for that. Mourn the loss, grieve with the heartbroken, be outraged about the violence but saying this violence isn’t about homosexuality truly minimizes the deeply embedded hate that the lgbt community faces and is an attempt assuage our guilt for the institutionalized bigotry that white-straight America has perpetuated for centuries. We should be talking about violence against the lgbt community. We should be talking about domestic terrorism. We should be talking about hate crimes. We should be talking about religious extremism. By saying is not about gays doesn’t encourage discussion; it says we shouldn’t talk about it because it wasn’t even about that. It is detrimental and I encourage you to reflect on the impact a blog post like this has on honest, and necessary, discourse.

  17. Sadly people of all races, ethnicities, religions, genders and sexual orientations are are gunned down and bullied for a myriad of reasons. This time it was gays. Another time it was innocent school children. Another time it was Baptists. The reason EVERY time is hate, fear or to secure power.

    Will you of the LGBT community and their supporters join those of us who aren’t of you specific mindset to drop the labels next time? If it’s in a Mormon chapel next time, or a Catholic cathedral or Evangelical Christian church or even a Muslim mosque ( which is it is almost every day in the Middle East), will you get on the bandwagon of support and condolences, lowering your rainbow flags to honor the lives of those killed? Even if you disagree with their beliefs?

    Please try to see what this blogger is really trying to say. Let’s drop the hate and divisiveness.

    1. Actually, my LGBTQ friends are outraged every time it happens. We were upset that children and teachers were murdered in Sandy Hook; we cried and called for change when an African-American congregation suffered their tragedy, and we continue to be upset every time it happens.

      One of the traits that I developed because I am gay is the ability to show empathy and compassion to others. I have been hurt many times because of my differences, and my wise parents helped me focus that hurt in a way that I have been able to reach out to others when they suffer. Many of my LGBTQ friends are also the same we.

      Please, don’t discount our hurt, and I won’t discount yours.

  18. I appreciate the intentions of this post, and I agree with some of your sentiments. However, it is important to understand that the LGBT community have been targeted in so many ways and for such a long time. The point of the overall response is that a gay club was targeted in the biggest mass shooting in US history. It is important to continue to acknowledge that these 50 people were members of the gay community because this was irrefutably a hate crime against LGBT specifically, which is why showing support for them with a pride flag is the right thing to do for this specific incident. Generalizing these victims is not the correct response, because we as gay people have never yet been generalized in any similar sense. These victims, their families and the LGBT community need support shown to them, because this was exactly about Gay people.

  19. Well said!
    Just as a reminder. Dec 29, 1890, at least 146 men women and children were murdered because of their race. They were the Sioux, in South Dakota, at Wounded Knee. Pearl Harbor, September 11th. All Massacres.
    May we never forget!

  20. Great article. However this was far from the biggest massacre in U.S. History. Might want to revise this a little.

  21. If you have to ignore and deny these victims’ gay identities in order to care about them, you’re not as loving as you think you are.

  22. When I think of what happened Saturday night and what I can do to help, to be empathetic and mourn with those who mourn, I understand why this kind of discourse infuriates so many. I understand what you are trying to say, I do, and I agree with some of it.

    But imagine if a shooting/bombing/ some kind of attack happened at Temple Square or Conference Center, 50-100 deaths & injuries. If I saw a post or article asserting,”This is not a hate crime against Mormons.” my visceral response would be swift and vicious, and I would not stand alone in defense that YES IT WAS! It was targeted and I will not allow you to minimize the trauma this causes me and all of us as a member of this church!

    I am so sad for the LGBT community that has to deal with THAT in addition to the event.

  23. Any time anyone says “this is the REAL” problem, what they are trying to do is distract from the bad behaviour that can be controlled, and put everyone in a place of helplessness. Because we will never eradicate hate. So, by saying that’s the real problem, what you’re saying is that it’s hopeless, stop trying to stop homophobia. Whether you realize it or not, that is what you are saying and doing. But I don’t need people to stop hating me. I need them to not go into a night club and kill me. I need them to not call out slurs to my son. They can sit in their hate all they want and it only hurts them, not me. Their behaviour that hurts me is what I want to control and what needs to be addressed. When you take the heat off of their behaviour, when you take the heat off of homophobia, you are ENABLING the haters. Because getting rid of hate is a whole process. And we can’t expect someone to immediately eliminate all their biases. So, when they show their hate, we make excuses because “at least they are trying”. No. There are certain things that people cannot do, should not do, and we need to call them out and make them clear and hold people accountable for them. People can control their behaviour even if they cannot control their feelings.

  24. I think that what some of these commenters don’t realize is that this post was probably not aimed at the ardent, wholehearted supporters of the gay community. It was most likely aimed at those who do not identify with or support the gay lifestyle. It’s OK for people to disagree with how others live their lives, that’s human nature. But when a tragedy like this strikes, it can help all of us understand that more than any other label we may attribute to ourselves or others, our highest identity is that of human being, of a child of God. Some people will never support gays (or Muslims or Christians or drug dealers or immigrants or people with purple hair) but what we MUST learn is how to see PAST those labels and identify with others purely as human beings who deserve to be treated with respect and kindness. Whatever happened to having a respectful discussion where neither party ever sees eye to eye? Can’t we just agree to disagree on lots of things but stand together against hate of every form??
    I don’t think the author was trying to erase the victims’ identities as members of a community that too often suffers at the hands of people who hate them, I believe she was simply pointing out that we can all band together to fight against this hate NO MATTER WHO it is aimed at. And that’s a message I can wholeheartedly support.

  25. I wonder how Mormons would feel if history books erased the “Mormon” out of tragedies like the Haun’s Mill Massacre or the Willie Handcart Company tragedy or Joseph Smith’s death. Doing so is disingenuous, dishonest and disrespectful because it doesn’t tell a very personal side of the stories. Minus the motivation there’s no context. I know your “just LOVE” intention is coming from a good place, but you trying to erase the homosexuality of the 50 victims is its own violent act of homophobia.

  26. Good piece you wrote here and inspiring. Just a note: It was the biggest massacre in US history, it was the biggest shooting incident in US history. The biggest massacres were about decimating the Native Americans. Just saying.

  27. This is a nice piece, but I respectfully disagree. I think it matters that the victims of this attack were members of LGBT community, just like it matters that the victims of the Holocaust were Jews, that the victims of the Rwandan genocide were Tutsis, or that the victims of the Charleston Church Shooting were Black. It matters because these events are not just the product of an individual person’s hate; they are the product of systemic, structural violence against a group of people. When parents disown their children for being gay, when colleagues send out threatening memes about transgender individuals using bathrooms appropriate to their gender identity, or when people cringe at the sight of two men holding hands, they are participating in a culture of intolerance that makes horrific acts like this thinkable. Sure, these little aggressions didn’t actually ’cause’ the deaths of 50 people in Orlando–in the same way that anti-Jewish Nazi propaganda didn’t ’cause’ the Holocaust–but they played a role in making these horrific events possible. When we treat the victims of the Orlando shooting as ‘people’ rather than members of the LGBT community, we treat this act of violence as an isolated incident somehow separated from the culture that produced it. Members of the LGBT community face physical and psychological violence all the time; treating these acts as if they are not part of a pattern means treating them as if they aren’t part of a problem.

  28. This. All day long. I’m not posting any pride flag or rainbows, because “this” is the issue, and it affects more than just a small piece of the population. Plenty of other groups have been targeted by these same Jihadis, such as Coptic Christians in the Middle East, but they aren’t a politically popular or protected class, so no one mourns or drapes flags for them, except their families. Still “this” is the issue, and it cares not who you are, only that you are not of their chosen few. Guns are not the problem. Being gay is not the problem. Being Christian or Jewish or Shia is not the problem, nor is being a woman or a man, Belgian, English, American, French or German. Hate is the problem. It really is as simple as that.

    Thank you!

  29. Hi Kayla,

    I generally really like your blog and your overall upbeat tone! However I have to disagree with you on one thing. You say that you see “anti-religion propaganda” being spread. I disagree–I see people noting that certain fundamentalist groups of Islam hate gay people so much that they are willing to slaughter them. To me noting this isn’t anti-religious: it’s anti-hate and anti-bigotry. It is rejecting those religious radicals who hate so deeply that they kill.

    I also don’t think that there is anything wrong with interrogating the REASON behind these attacks so that we can eliminate the hate behind them. Of course it is vital to recognize the humanity of those killed and to see them as 3-dimensional, not just one-trait individuals. But I don’t think we can end the horrific actions if we don’t attack their roots: homophobia, racism, etc–hatred based on people’s identities.


  30. Reblogged this on The Crazy Little Red Head and commented:
    I’m reblogging this post intact, as well as the previous post by Lemonythings on the topic of gay marriage because I’m just so blasted tired of the culture wars, of the media telling me, of parts of the population screaming at me that they will force me to “love them and accept them” in a manner that brings to mind the closing scenes of Orwell’s “1984.”

    As much a one side of the culture divide likes to assert that “there is only one race: the human race, ” I feel this same side does nothing but seek to parse us into a million different identity groups, each with its own political agenda to which the rest of us must subscribe if we wish to survive. “Fly my flag!” “Add my filter!” “Go Find ME, not them!”

    Well, you know what? Diversify this! The only problem is no intellectual diversity is allowed. No discussions seeking common ground, points upon which we can agree, realizing there will always be points upon which we disagree (and that’s o.k.!). Nope, the only thing allowed is unwavering allegiance to the totalitarian ideals of those on the “right” side of history… in their own heads.

    If we are ALL a part of the human race, ALL united by our common humanity, ALL supposed to embrace the vast diversity of our fellow beings, can we also allow that we should ALL be able to mourn and weep and feel the weight of sadness for the loss of life among these souls, these children of God, without being yelled at because we don’t think any political or social group should such get a massive amount of media time, when others get nothing, but have suffered more acutely? Is it really “erasing” or denying suffering to say millions more have be subjected to like hate, too? Must our mourning really be wrapped or filtered or flown under specific colors in order to be appropriate? Cripes! I hope not.

  31. One thing that I find interesting in all the comments left here is that people are speaking for the shooter. No one truly knows why the shooter did what he did. Were gays targeted? Yes. Was this a hate crime against gays? Most likely. Does the fact that it was a gay club matter? I believe it does. What I find interesting is that everyone is interpreting what happened, the shooting, into what the shooters motives were. We don’t know what the shooters motives were.

    I’m not pointing this out to condone his actions by any means. What he did was horrific and should never happen anywhere to anyone. But I think we should be careful when it comes to interpreting the motives and intentions behind what happened because the only one who truly knows is no longer with us. We can speculate and make assumptions all we want as to what caused this horrible tragedy and I think that there should be a dialogue. But the dialogue shouldn’t be about one side or the other, do the victims need a rainbow flag or don’t they. I think it’s about addressing the whole picture.

    There are likely a myriad of reasons this happened. Perhaps the shooter was mentally ill, perhaps he was delusional and thought he was in danger. Again, I’m not condoning his actions, I’m mearly trying to point out that we don’t have all the answers and probably never will. Therefor we shouldn’t say it was because of this or because of that or this is the real reason behind this attack.

    There were probably many factors that led to this. What is important is to mourn the tragedy. Mourn for the loss of life. The WHOLE life. Yes the victims were gay and that was part of who they were and what made each individual who they were AND I think it is important to also recognize that there is a commonality in that we are all human AND that we are all individual as well. I understand both sides of the comments to this post. Both sides make sense to me. And both sides can co-exsist. I think that one of the biggest issues is that we try to make everything black and white all the time when there is so much grey. Black and white can and very often do co-exist. It is a dialectic, two opposing sides co-existing both containing truth. It’s about finding the middle path.

  32. What I hear when I read this is “it makes me uncomfortable to focus on the gay community and sympathize with them so instead of sitting with this discomfort and cognitive dissonance I’m going to make it about something I can relate to. Instead of searching for the answers to the really hard questions about homophobia I’m going to further disenfranchise the gay community and hijack the conversation. It’s about Americans not gays. That makes me feel more at peace because then I don’t have to face the the painful truth about how I’ve treated lgbt people and I can once again feel in control”

    Don’t belittle the situation and say it’s not about gays and act like “it just happened to be at a gay night club” if someone entered a temple and killed 50 Mormons and they had a history of hatred toward the Mormon church….you wouldn’t be saying “it’s not about Mormons it’s about Americans.” No. You’d be writing about how resilient the Mormon community is…how you’ve faced so many trials in the past but God has always strengthened you. That’s the kind of thing you’d be writing.

    This was about Americans and children of God….gay Americans and gay children of God. I know it’s uncomfortable but please don’t cut me and those 50 who died and 53 injured out of the story. Don’t white wash the narrative so you don’t have to look at the bloody colorful truth. Yes it was about hate…hatred of gays.

    Do you realize that the terrorist hated gays because of his religious beliefs and felt uncomfortable seeing gays kiss….he felt the need to stand up for what he believes. He was unstable and violent so his hatred came out as bullets…do you realize that you are writing this blog post because you are uncomfortable seeing gays claim their humanity and mourn the loss of their own and your intolerance comes out not as bullets but as words? Changing the conversation to something you’re more conformable with because everything has to be about you and your world view.

    The Holocaust was about Jews. The massacre at Haun’s mill was about Mormons and the shooting in Orlando was about gays. It just was.

  33. I love reading this blog, but today, after reading your comments on the massacre; I feel you truly hit the heart of it and I ended feeling empowered to be a little better. Thank you for your thoughts!

  34. Please get your facts straight! While tragic, this shooting is not even close to the largest massacre in US history. (It’s the largest mass killing since 9/11, but that was not even 15 years ago.)

    How about Wounded Knee? Our country has a long, bloody history of massacring Native Americans.

    And if you want to compare killings by the religiously fanatical, the Mountain Meadows Massacre saw an estimated 120 innocent men, women, and children gunned down by radicalized Mormons. So I really can’t take any of your writing seriously if you are so quick to spout opinions without even doing the most basic of fact-checking.

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