At first, I couldn’t really talk about what happened in Orlando. I was just crying and angry.
But we need to talk about it. Why this happened. And be brutally honest.
Maybe then, we can stop this from happening again.
First, a few good reads:
Look at the victims’ faces and read about them.
Also, the Tampa Bay Times put together this harrowing look at how the shooting unfolded inside Pulse night club.
And this is a heartbreaking listen: An NPR profile of the youngest victim of the shooting, Akyra Murray. She had graduated high school and wanted to go celebrate somewhere you didn’t have to be 21.
And another important read: The man who told the FBI about Omar Mateen wants to dispel myths that Muslims don’t love America and won’t help stop terrorism.
Our friends at the Tulsa Voice, Oklahoma Gazette, NonDoc and the Gayly asked us to join in support of a letter condemning LGBTQ violence. We stand with them in support of human rights and remind our readers that this type of violence can happen anywhere, as Kassie McClung’s recent story about Jose Vega reminds us, and the letter points out:
“Last month, Jose Vega said he was verbally and physically assaulted at a midtown Tulsa store. A man yelled racist and homophobic slurs at Vega even as he exited the store and walked to his car because he was wearing a gay pride T-shirt. He was spit on and punched.
“The entire time he came toward me he had his hand in his front area under his shirt and in his pants. So automatically I thought, ‘He has a gun,’” Vega told the media.
In 2013, Jim Roth, one of the state’s first openly gay politicians, was physically assaulted by three men outside of an Oklahoma City bar after being publicly degraded with anti-gay insults.
In 2012, an Oklahoma City man watched his car explode after it was vandalized during a nighttime attack. His shirt melted to his body and he was treated for first- and second-degree burns, reported News9.com. The word “fag” was spray-painted on the trunk of his car.
No human should inflict homophobic or transphobic hate — not slurs, not discrimination, not intimidation, not threats, not anti-LGBT legislation, not assault, not battery and not murder.”
In the wake of the Orlando shootings, there have been some beautiful tributes and moments of compassion that remind us of all the kind, wonderful people in the world.
An Illinois man drove more than 1,200 miles to deliver handmade crosses for each victim at a memorial site near the scene.
A woman captured random passengers on a Southwest Airlines flight throwing up hearts on their flight to honor the victims and the LGBTQ community:
— Carrie Wolk (@carrieannwolk) June 14, 2016
Chick-fil-a even opened on a Sunday to feed people.
I’m just old enough to have seen lots of hearts and minds transformed on the issue of LGBTQ equality in my lifetime. We have gone from “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” to the U.S. Senate approving the first openly gay secretary of the Army.
Mary Bishop was my editor as a young cops reporter at the Tulsa World. I can remember when she and Sharon Baldwin first filed their lawsuit seeking to legally marry in Oklahoma, and it seemed like the odds were against them in a state that had passed a constitutional amendment to prohibit gay marriage.
More than a decade later, I was standing on the Tulsa County courthouse steps as they were the first gay couple to legally marry in Oklahoma.
A photo posted by Cary (@caryaspinwall) on
Just this morning, on a street the city of Tulsa renamed because of the racist history of its former namesake, Tate Brady, I spotted this flag flying proudly.
In the end, love conquers hate.