It’s hard to believe that two months ago, the beautiful city in which I have lived my entire life was home to what is being called one of America’s most deadly mass shootings. Home of the happiest place on earth (Disney World), Universal Studios and Islands of Adventures, Orlando houses some of the world’s most famous amusement parks alongside many other tourist attractions. Outside of the buzz of foreigners and locals alike, this city has held a place for anyone who wanted to make it their home or vacation spot since 1875. And just like that, the unthinkable occurs on June 12, 2016 at Pulse Night Club. 49 innocent people lost their lives in the horrific name of terrorism. This was not only an attack against the citizens of Orlando, it was an attack against our country, everything we believe in and importantly an attack against the LGBTQ community, as this incursion took place at an openly gay bar night club. The war on LGBTQ love has been a long and rough one resulting with the Supreme Court of the United States ruling it legal to marry whom you love, no matter gender. While the decision is more than one year old, America is still facing and probably will always face this decisions repercussions. As if mass murdering a group of people wasn’t bad enough, 29 year old Omar Mateen took it upon himself to murder a group of people whose life was hard enough being gay or lesbian in today’s society at what was to many a safe place where they were free to be themselves.
As for the aftermath, how does a community heal after such a fragile and raw incident happens right in their very own backyard? It may seem hard to fathom how one would react after hearing news like this. But despite the heart breaking pain we were all suffering from, the city of Orlando came together in the most beautiful way one could imagine. One Orlando, a fund set up by mayor Buddy Dyer to directly relieve victims and their families raised 7 million dollars immediately after the attack. Fire has been added to this when it comes to who specifically can access this money. For example, should the nearby businesses that had to shut down be compensated? And should victims’ significant others be able to access money if they weren’t legally married? While this is a growing topic of interest, Orlando has done a tremendous job in fundraising events. For instance, I had the honor of preforming at an event in which all facets of Orlando’s various fine arts came together and organized an evening of music, poetry and art presented by adults and children from diverse backgrounds showing their solidarity.
Because I was taught to always see the light in even the darkest of situations, here is what I learned. We must not dwell on the horrific attack that happened. We must now learn from this how to peacefully and justly move on and prevent this from happening again. We must as a country learn how to be better at protecting human rights, equally as well as electing people in office that will protect the rights of ALL humans, regardless of race, religion, gender and sexual orientation. What we should dwell on is how quickly the community came together to help one another heal. I am and always will be proud to be born and raised in Orlando, Florida. So in the words of the Grammy winning Hip-Hop Artist and LGBTQ supporter, Kendrick Lamar, “We’[re] going to be alright.”
Disclaimer: All views/opinions stated in this article are of the respective writer and not of The Youth Observer.